I whipped this up for a family cook-out a couple of weeks back. My cousin was home from the Air Force for a visit, and it was nice to see him and meet his new girlfriend. (They’ve been together for a while, of course, but she’s new to me. 😉 ) My aunt asked me to bring a dessert, which I was happy to do, but the challenge was that dinner was after work on a Monday afternoon, and so I was trying to think of something that could be made ahead but would still be fresh and tasty after hanging out all day while I worked.
David also bought me a tart pan that weekend. I can’t say that didn’t play a part. It did. So I decided to make a fruit tart with fresh strawberries and a homemade pastry cream.
Strawberry Tart with Lemon-Vanilla Pastry Cream
For the Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 10 tablespoons frozen or cold unsalted better, cut into cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling:
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups cream
- 2 teaspoons butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Fruit Topping:
- 2 – 3 cups of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved (or any other fresh berries you would like to use, really)
Make the tart.
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process for about 10 seconds. Add in the egg yolk and process for a few more seconds.
2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp. ice water and mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. You can add a little more water if necessary or a little more flour if it’s too wet. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
3. Spray your tart pan with a non-stick cooking spray made for baking, or grease and flour your tart pan. Roll the dough into a round about a half an inch thick, then transfer into your tart pan. Using your fingertips, press the dough into the pan evenly, spreading it out all the way to the edges and up into the fluted sections of the pan. Refrigerate for about an hour.
4. After the crust is properly chilled you need to prebake it. Heat oven to 425 (F). Sufficiently prick the entire bottom of the crust with a fork. Take a large piece of foil and butter one side, press the buttered side into the crust and up along the sides. Weigh the foil down with a pie weights (or if you don’t have pie weights, a few cups of raw rice or dried beans will do the trick) Bake for 12 minutes.
5. Now remove the tart from the oven and reduce the temp to 350 (F). Take off the weights and the foil and put the crust back in and bake until it’s a nicely browned, 10-15 minutes. Take out and cool completely on a rack.
Make the pastry cream (You can do this while the crust is baking)
1. Mix together egg yolks and cream. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk every minute or so at first, but as it heats up and starts to boil and thicken, you will need to whisk constantly. This should take about 10 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to low/medium-low so that mixture bubbles gently and cook until it coats the back of a spoon, or when you can draw your finger through it and the line stays there. Stir in the butter and vanilla, and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
3. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve/strainer to remove all lumps. Because the mixture is very thick, you may have to help the mixture through the strainer by pushing gently with a spoon.
4. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed gently against the surface of the cream.
Assemble the tart. (I did this part the next day, at the party)
1. Spread the cooled pastry cream inside the cooled tart crust. Arrange the strawberries on top of the cream in whatever pattern you like.The more fruit the better, of course, so try to keep it in a close pattern.
Note: My original plan was to use a lemon glaze to finish the tart, but that never really came to fruition. I didn’t have time to do it right before the party, and I was afraid to start it ahead of time, as those things tend to solidify quite a bit, and I didn’t know how to keep it smooth and fresh all day.
I made a double batch of the tart crust, and refridgerated it to use at another time, which was nice. It was nice to have on hand for a quick dessert later on. If wrapped well, it could certainly be frozen for later use as well.