Going to a friend's birthday today I made a traditional French Strawberry Tarte with the basic recipe of Julia Child. I have never made Pate Sablee (Sweet short crust), as I have not really "been into baking" until recently - so this was quite a bit of a challenge. I first used someone else's recipe.. total failure but my dogs loved it !!! Then I tackled Julia's with all her wonderful explanation and voila ! no problem! Now in France a fruit tartelette is always made this basic way with a pate sablee, creme patissier and then fresh fruit on top glazed with a liquidized jam to give it this wonderful gloss that makes it look so appetizing.
I only had a small amount of cranberry jam and had to add some loganberry jam as well to retain the red colouring and know I should have strained it before painting onto the strawberries.. but alas it was too late. So here's my first homemade strawberry tarte:
A 10-inch fully baked pastry shell (see "Sugar Crust" recipe below)
1 quart large, ripe, handsome strawberries
1 cup red currant jelly
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. kirsch or cognac
1 1/2 to 2 cups chilled creme patissiere (custard filling...recipe below)
Hull the strawberries. If necessary to wash them, do so very quickly, and drain them on a rack.
Boil the currant jelly, sugar, and liqueur in a small saucepan until last drops from spoon are sticky. Paint the interior of the shell with a thin coating of the glaze and allow to set for 5 minutes. This will give the shell a light waterproofing. Reserve the rest of the glaze for the strawberries. Warm it briefly if it has hardened.
Spread a 1/2-inch layer of creme patissiere in the bottom of the pastry shell.
Arrange a design of strawberries over the cream. Put the largest strawberry in the center, and graduate down in size, placing the berries closely together, their stem ends in the cream. Spoon or paint over them a thin coating of the glaze, and the tart is ready to serve. Because of the glazed waterproofing in the bottom of the shell, the filled tart may wait an hour or so.
1 1/3 cups flour
3 to 7 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. double-action baking powder
7 tbsp. fat: 5 tbsp chilled butter and 2 tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Place the flour, sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, and baking powder in the mixing bowl. Rub the fat and dry ingredients together rapidly with the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into bits the size of small oatmeal flakes. Blend in the egg and vanilla, and knead the dough rapidly into a ball. Place on a pastry board and with the heel of your head, not the palm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. The dough will be quite sticky if you have used the full amount of sugar. Form again into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for several hours until firm. Bake at 220 deg C for 15 minutes.
1 cup granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup flour
2 cups boiling milk
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp rose water (if you have)
1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms "the ribbon".
Beat in the flour.
Beating the yolk mixture, gradually pour on the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.
Pour into saucepan and set over moderately high heat. Stir with a wire whip, reaching all over bottom of the pan. As sauce comes to a boil it will get lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it. When boil is reached, beat over moderately low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour. Be careful custard does not scorch in bottom of pan.
Remove from heat and beat in the butter, then vanilla extract. If the custard is not used immediately, clean it off the sides of the pan, and dot top of custard with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming over the surface. Creme Patissiere will keep for a week under refrigeration, or may be frozen.