Pate brisee is the coarser French version of our shortcrust pastry (as the phrase implies pate=pastry, brisee = broken/brittle). It crumbles easily so you have to gather every tasty morsel with your fork. This biscuit like pastry is paired here with spring strawberries and delicious cream of ladyfinger biscuits to produce a superior, moist strawberry tart.
“If life was a strawberry, it would be juicy, delicious and with a touch of dashing style” – said Daphne, who is fond of the taste of this fleshy fruit and found in this strawberry tart her beloved seasonal dessert of the week.
If life were like strawberries, our experiences would be the essence of the fruity sweetness of the Bodyshop shower gels – certification that the flavours are not tested on animals would be completely unnecessary. If life was a strawberry it would knowingly seduce the Chantilly cream, the icing sugar and the chocolate. It would violate every politically and tastefully correct idea that would act by keeping it away from them, and would consent to what ensures only half the pleasure of their relationship together- the other half would be a calculated loss on the way to conquest writing a love story, unending and banal, devoted to the good and the bad of life’s adventure.
The common friends on Facebook would be the buttery pastry and the vanilla creams-of the rich, pale custard type made with overconfident eggs and the predictable sugar, and maybe some liqueur, since a little shot of decadence breaks down the inflexible chain of thought on controversial subjects and faces.
This is a strawberry tart that has the scent of strawberries everywhere: in the pastry, the cream, and the topping. The buttery base takes its taste from its immediate contact with the fruit and an almost liquid sweetness conveyed to the mouth with every bite. Same goes for the cream that covers the strawberries as it contains finely chopped pieces. The lady finger biscuits are used finely crumbled and softened inside the cream, a rather unusual way that differentiates it from the gleaming and comparatively neutral confectioner’s cream which is commonly used to fill the classic strawberry tart. This way the dessert takes on another texture and the final appearance is uniformly strawberry- the usual contrast between cream and pastry dough is absent.
It is customary for pastry bases (both savoury and sweet) to be cooked twice. The first on their own in blind baking-, for 15-20 mins (depending on the thickness) covered by a layer of baking paper and baking or dried beans or rice. The second baking is with the filling. This method ensures the base of the tart is crunchy and prevents it going soggy when the filling is added.
In this recipe this particular step is not necessary as the filling is fresh fruit, but, if generally you like a crunchier base, then include it. Another tip to make it extra crunchy: lightly brush the base with egg white.
This strawberry tart is not overly sweet and will appeal towards those who lean towards savoury tastes. If, however, you do have a sweeter tooth, you can increase the amount of sugar included in the pastry up to ¾ cup -no more.
You may use the same recipe to make other desserts with fruits of similar sweetness and composition.
Preparation: Approx 1hr & 10 mins. The tart base can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge. The dough can also be frozen and kept until needed. Make the cream and add the fresh strawberries on the same day. If you are used to making pastry, this will seem an easy and relatively quick recipe.
Ingredients (for 8-10 servings)
250 g cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
5 tbsp sugar
For the filling
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
200ml fresh cream
8 ladyfinger biscuits
2 tsp liqueur of your choice or rum
800 g strawberries
Icing sugar for dusting
To prepare the pastry: In a large bowl, add the cubed, cold butter to the flour and rub in with the fingers until well blended (2-3mins) and has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla essence. Mix until the dough comes together (2-3mins).
Roll into a large ball, wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins, or more if time allows. It can remain at this stage for up to 1 day.
To prepare the filling: In another bowl, put the sugar and egg yolks. Using either a balloon whisk or electric mixer, whip up until paler in appearance, add the cream and whip a little more until evenly blended. Add the liqueur, crumble and add the ladyfingers and leave to soak for 5 mins. Use a hand mixer to ensure all the ingredients are evenly coated and the cream is quite thick and homogenous.
Cut the strawberries into 2 or 3 thick slices each, keeping 2 or 3 whole ones for the top of the tart. Keep these aside. Cut 4-5 strawberries into small pieces and mix these into the ladyfinger cream.
Butter a 23-25 cm tart mold (6-7 cm deep or more) with removable bottom, or use only a ring placed on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180-190 C.
To construct the tart: Remove the pastry from the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to form a circle approx 28-30 cm diameter or 4-6 cm larger than the diameter of the mold. Take care to fold the pastry over the rolling pin (see photo) and lift and place over the mold.
Gently push down the pastry over the base and sides and level off with edges using a sharp knife. Use the leftovers to cover any areas where needed. Gently push the soft pastry into all corners and use a fork to give a decorative edge so when cooked the tart will have a more polished appearance.
- When rolling out the pastry, try to ensure an even thickness.
- When rolling and lining the mold, try to work relatively quickly so the pastry doesn’t warm up too much
- If the pastry breaks whilst placing in the mold, rejoin by lightly pressing the edges together.
Place on top of the pastry a tight layer of strawberries without leaving any spaces in between. Pour the ladyfinger cream mix on top of this and level the surface. Bake in a preheated oven 180-190 C for 30-35mins (depending on the oven) until the pastry is golden brown and the cream sets (use a toothpick to see if it comes out clean).
Note: Do not overcook the pastry as it will dry out or become too dark.
Serving: Dust the cooled strawberry tart with icing sugar. If like, top with chopped or whole strawberries (of the ones kept aside). Cut into slices, serve and await reactions.