I can rarely resist second helpings of pie, tart or galette, sweet or savory. The whiff of an apple cinnamon pie in the oven makes me feel warm and fuzzy and there is something about flaky pastry, the goodness of a jammie filling and the creaminess of custard topped with fresh fruit that promises delicious buttery bites with very fresh bursts of flavor. It’s just very satisfying to buy luscious red strawberries (even more so to go strawberry picking) and then make something from a batch once we have all had our fill of topping literally everything possible with them!
This strawberry custard tart will probably be gone quickly after second helpings (oh, it beckons) but it’s worth making at least once or twice when strawberries are at their best! So bring out your kitchen weighing scales and measuring cups and spoons; you are baking today…
We all have different recipes and ratios our pastry crust. For this particular crust I have used the 1:2 ratios for butter and flour. Sift and weigh 200 grams of flour.
Weight 100 grams of very cold butter. You can see that i’m not very particular about the zeros 😛
Cut the butter into ½ inch squares and combine with the flour, castor sugar and salt.
Break down the butter by squishing it between your fingers and thumb while mixing it with the flour till you have a lot of fine looking breadcrumbs.
Whisk the cold milk and egg yolk together with the vanilla essence. Add the egg yolk mixture a tablespoon at a time while moving the hand in a circular motion using your fingertips to bring the crumbs together to form a ball. You need to work the pastry very lightly. If you over handle or over-kneed the dough, it will lose it flakiness and turn out too hard or chewy.
Alternatively you can also combine the pastry ingredients and whizz them in a food processor using the dough blade. I actually prefer this during summer months using cold flour and cold butter for a lovely flaky pastry crust.
Your final pastry crust should not be super smooth like the kiddie’s play-doh. You should not see any sheen from the butter on the prepared pastry, (unless it’s sweltering hot outside) because that is a sure shot sign that you have over worked the pastry. Wrap this up in some cling film and refrigerate. It will become firm and be easier to handle and lift without breaking once you roll it out.
Let’s get the jammie strawberries going. Not only does this make a great filling for tarts and cakes but is a yummy strawberry topping for pancakes, ice-cream and chocolate cookie … yep cookies 😛 YUM!
Remove the hulls and roughly chop up the berries till you have 2 cups full. Move to a cooking pot and mash half the strawberries. Add the sugar and cook on medium heat till the syrup starts to reduce.
Dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup water and thicken the strawberry filling. Cook on simmer until you see sheen on the jammie filling. The lemon juice mentioned in the ingredients is optional; if you had a mix of sweet and not so sweet strawberries you are all good but if it was a lovely sweet batch you’ll need some of that lemon juice to add some tartness to balance the sweetness.
A good way to check if the filling will hold well in the tart is the cold spoon test. Stick a flat metal spoon (or bowl) in the freezer for 10 min. When you feel that the consistency of the filling is just right, take out the cold spoon and drop a teaspoon full of filling on it. It will cool and set quickly. Push the filling with your index finger to check that it holds and doesn’t run back. This will be consistency for the strawberry filling once the tart has cooled – soft and jam like, not runny and not rubbery.
Keep the strawberry filling warm and get started with the egg custard with your preferred custard recipe. I made this with milk, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla flavoring. If you want to take a shortcut you can go ahead and just use the custard mix instead (like I do plenty of times) but then do the cold spoon test to check if the consistency is right for your tart.
Take the pastry dough out of the refrigerator and spread some cling film on the counter surface to roll out the crust on. With the cling film, it will be easier to lift up the rolled out pastry without breaking it, especially in hot weather.
You can roll the pastry out to around 9-11 inches. It should be 1-1 ½ inch more than the diameter of the base of your pie dish. My pie dish has an 8-8.5 inches base so I rolled out 10 inches.
Cut out the pastry in a circle with a pastry cutter or even a plain knife. You can always pinch the edges for a more rustic look. Personally I love the rustic look ….
And did I mention that I HATE making anything ‘pastry’ in peak summers? It once took me hours to get the pastry rolled out and into the dish for a surprise pie for my mum-in-law! Gadget Guy salvaged the day by helping me lift the darn pastry but I swore off anything coupling butter and flour for a month!
Once rolled out, lift the cling film from one end and carefully flip the pastry onto your left palm and then into the pie dish. Oh and don’t forget to cover the base of the dish with wax paper! And don’t let that pastry sit on the counter while you check other things. The butter in it will soften and make it hard to shift to the dish.
Poke the base of the pastry with a fork to let air bubbles escape while it bakes. Place on the center rack of a 200°C/400°F preheated oven for 5 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F and bake for another 15 minutes or till golden brown.
And oh yeah…. the left over pastry from the cut-out makes a happy treat for the +Two while they wait in earnest for the tart to be served!
Once the crust is ready, remove for the oven and let sit. If you try to lift it out before it has cooled down completely, you’ll be in for a broken crust.
Remove from the baking dish and at this point it would be wise to remove the wax paper. And as you will see… I wasn’t as wise as I preach and had to remove it with a prayer under my breath after I had poured in the fillings!
Pour the warm custard into the tart shell.
Give the custard a couple of minutes to settle and then spoon in the yummy strawberry filling.
And it was now that I precariously removed the wax paper.
Arrange with strawberry slices cut lengthwise. I normally like to cover it completely with strawberries on the top but my +Two pleaded that I serve it with chunky and juicy strawberries on the side with lots of whipped cream. Who can resist such sweet and creamy requests? Certainly not my palate!
I strongly suggest making this at least 6 hours before serving. It gives time for the flavors to fuse, the crust to settle and for the layers and the crust to cut thorough cleanly. That does look mouth-watering now doesn’t it? Mmmm..…too bad its all gone already!
- For The Strawberry Filling
- 2 Cups Strawberries – Chopped
- ½ Cup Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Corn Starch
- ¼ Cup Water
- ¼ teaspoon Lemon Juice – Optional
- For The Pastry Crust
- 200 g /1½ cups + 1 tablespoon Flour
- 100 g / 7 tablespoons Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Castor Sugar
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 2 Tablespoons Cold Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
- 1 cup Vanilla Custard
- ½ cup Fresh Strawberries - (Sliced to arrange on top)
- Preheated the oven to 200°C
- Weight 200 grams of flour and 100 grams of cold butter.
- Combine with salt and castor sugar and break the butter into the flour.
- Whisk together the egg yolk, milk, vanilla essence and add a tablespoon at a time to form a dough ball using fingertips.
- Do not over kneed or over handle.
- Wrap up in cling film and refrigerate.
- Take 1 cup of chopped strawberries and 1 cup of slightly mashed strawberries.
- Combine with sugar and cook on low flame till the syrup starts to reduce.
- Add lemon juice if too sweet.
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry and thicken. Do the cold spoon test for consistency.
- Prepare 1 cup Vanilla custard with your preferred recipe.
- Keep the strawberry filling and the custard warm.
- Line the pie/tart dish with wax paper.
- Roll the pastry out to 10 inches on top of a film of cling wrap
- Cut around with a pastry cutter or knife.
- Lift the cling film and flip the pastry onto the other hand and into a buttered pie/tart baking dish.
- Poke the base of the pastry with a fork and place on the center rack.
- Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 180°C and bake for 15 more minutes or till golden brown.
- Remove the pastry shell from oven and cool.
- Remove any wax paper.
- Fill with warm vanilla custard and spoon over the warm strawberry filling.
- Arrange with strawberries on top.
- Serve when completely cold.