Last week I went to dinner with my partner’s parents. While there was absolutely no obligation to take anything, they are lovely people so I wanted to contribute something nice. My solution – this simple yet elegant strawberry tart, which took advantage of strawberries on special at ALDI for only $2 a punnet.
I am no longer allowed to call my man ‘new’ even though we have only been dating for four months. He won’t stand for it, and given how things have developed I kind of understand. His family is lovely and so when I invited myself to their place for dinner, I knew I didn’t have to bring anything at all yet I wanted to bring something nice. Thus this strawberry tart.
There is something about fruit tarts at bakeries. They look so elegant and yet so difficult. They seem to be so perfect, fruit all in perfect layers in patisserie perfection.
Look closely and my tart is not perfect. My punnet of strawberries had a lot of odd-shaped fruit in it, and I’m a bit rough with product placement. But oh my, the smell of fresh strawberries on top of homemade custard. Heavenly! And given today is the first day of advent, can I just say that this looks very Christmasy in a downunder summer Christmas way.
There is a bit of an (in retrospect) funny story to this tart. My partner’s parents live around 45 minutes drive away in a rural location on an unsealed road. It had been raining heavily and there were potholes everywhere. I made my eldest son (aka Big A) hold the tart on his lap in a plastic washing tub. As I was driving, Little A thought it would be funny to tickle Big A, who then kept hitting his brother in return. This fighting went on for the whole trip. As Big A was still (somehow) holding onto the tart. I had visions of custard and strawberries all over the car, but in a minor miracle, it made it in one piece. As did the kids.
300g plain flour
150g butter, diced
3-4 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatine
250g punnet of strawberries
2 tablespoons plum jam
- First make the short crust pastry. Cut the cold butter into the flour. Add the sugar. Using your fingers, rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix until it forms a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Roll out until then and then line a 24cm tart case (there is likely more pastry mixture than you need, so keep the rest and refrigerate or freeze for a future use). Prick with a fork and place in the freezer for up to 30 minutes.
- Line with baking paper and fill with dried beans. Bake in a medium oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.
- To make the custard, heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until almost boiling.
- Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and sugar until they are thick and creamy. Stir in the flour. Then add the milk, bit by bit, stirring all the time until incorporated.
- Return to a clean saucepan and cook until thickens. While still hot, take out a few tablespoons of the custard mixture and dissolve the gelatine. Stir to remove any lumps, then pour the gelatine back into the custard mixture and stir. Allow to cool slightly.
- When the pastry shell is cold and the custard slightly warm but no longer hot, pour the custard into the shell and allow to cool.
- Slice the strawberries. Artistically decorate them on top of the custard. Heat the jam in a microwave until hot (not boiling). Pass through a small sieve, and then brush on top of the strawberries.