Recipe for ‘tarte aux fraises’ (authentic French strawberry tart)

Recipe for Tarte aux Fraises

Homemade French Strawberry Tart:
Delicious and impressive as it is, Tarte aux Fraises is just a simple, thin shortcrust pastry base, a thick custard filling (crème pâtissière), and chopped strawberries topped by a sugary glaze.
Recipe Instructions:
30cm metal tart tin
Oven Temperature:  180 C
Start by making the pastry:

Shortcrust Pastry:
The general rule is 1/2 fat to flour.   E.g:  50g butter needs 100g flour.
For a richer pastry, include a little more butter and a teaspoon of icing sugar.
50g/100g will be a bit tight for a 30cm tin.  75g butter + 150g flour is safer but there should be some leftover:
Method:
Rub fat into the flour using just the tips of your fingers.
Bind together with just enough cold water to make a dough.
You are supposed to leave the pastry somewhere cool for about 30 minutes, but …  Sometimes it is easier to roll out if you don’t!
Roll out the pastry on a cool floured surface making it as thin as possible (no need to use all the pastry)
Put the pastry carefully into the tin.  Cut off the edges with a knife and press a fork around the edges.

Cover the pastry base with greaseproof paper and put ‘baking beans’ or similar on top to hold the pastry in shape:

image of baking beans

This image shows the small imprints left by the beans if the greaseproof paper is left out, as well as bubbles in the pastry caused by not enough beans being put in the pastry case:

image of bubbles in pastry

Neither is a disaster, nor visible once the tart is finished, but it can be avoided, and it is certainly best not to burn the edges!

Bake for about 15mns at 180 C, removing the beans and paper 5mns before the end.
Check that the base is cooked, and leave to cool.

Crème Pâtissière (thick custard):
1/2 litre milk
4 egg yolks
100g sugar
1 tspn vanilla
30g plain flour
pinch salt
Method:
Warm the milk in a saucepan.
Blend together the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl.
Then gradually pour in the warmed milk, stirring all the time.
Pour everything back into the saucepan and gradually bring to the boil until the mixture starts to thicken.
Add vanilla + a pinch of salt and continue stirring for about a minute.
Turn off the heat, wait a few seconds, and then pour the custard into the pastry case.

750g strawberries:
Cut the strawberries in half, or quarters if very large, and place neatly to cover all the crème pâtissière, starting from the outside of the tin and moving in circles into the middle.

Glaze:
Heat 2 tablespoons of fruit jelly/jam (Blackberry jelly is great) with 1 teaspoon of water, and brush over all the strawberries with a pastry brush.

Voilà!

image for French strawberry tart


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TARTE AUX PRUNES   (Plum Tart):
Delicious variation on the recipe for Tarte aux Fraises:
Follow the recipe for tarte aux fraises but replace the strawberries with 2lbs of fresh plums prepared as follows:
Cut the plums in half, take out the stones, and place them flesh down onto a heavy-based non-stick pan.
Sprinkle them well with plenty of caster or granulated sugar.
Bake until the skins of the plums look/taste quite caramelised.
Slide them carefully onto the custard trying not to disturb the plums’ shape and keeping the skins on the top.
Cool and eat!
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TARTE AUX POMMES (Apple Tart):
Another absolutely delicious variation on Tarte aux Fraises!
This time lightly butter two baking trays.
Slice about 6/7 apples (thinly but not too thinly) and lay them on the trays.
Bake them until soft.
Peel them off the trays and put them on the crème pâtissière.
Brush the glaze on top as above.

Bought from a good pâtisserie, these pastries are quite expensive, but they are beautifully made with care and precision.  You can buy much cheaper versions in large supermarkets, but they never look or taste quite as special.

French for Children

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