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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

tarte aux fraises

Tarte aux fraises (Strawberry tart)

1. Pie shell
Make a pre-baked pie shell, for instance using the recipe here. Instructions for blind baking it can be found here.

2. Crème pâtissière (pastry cream)
Source: Pierre Hermé, Secrets Gourmands

- 250g milk (1/4 liter)
- 23g corn starch
- 62g sugar (divided in two)
- 3 egg yolks
- 25g butter
- 1/2 to 1 vanilla bean

Place the corn starch and half the sugar in a saucepan with a thick bottom. Add the milk slowly while whisking. Split the vanilla bean, scrape seeds, and add bean + seeds to the milk. While whisking, bring to a boil.

In another saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, for three minutes. Pour in the milk and corn starch mixture in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Bring to a boil and remove from the fire as soon as you see the first big bubbles [I think mine could have boiled a little longer, it was too runny]. Remove the vanilla bean and immerse the saucepan in a ice cold water bath (put ice cubes and water in a big bowl).

Once the cream has cooled to 50°C, add the butter, turning quickly with a whisk. The butter should not be added when the cream is too hot (over 60°C), or the cream will be grainy and the butter will lose its fresh flavor.

You can flavor the cream with:
- Coffee [of course not for use with the strawberry tart]: add 2.5g instant coffee diluted in a teaspoon of water + 2.5g natural coffee extract
Or with 1 to 2 tablespoons of one of the following:
- Cointreau
- Grand Marnier
- Kirsch
- Old brown rhum ("agricole")

3. Strawberries
If the strawberries are clean, I wouldn't bother washing them. If they're sandy, rinse them quickly and dry them carefully.

4. Glaze
[I think you can simply make a glaze from currant jelly, boiling it with a little water. I didn't have any jelly in the house, so I had to make this glaze from scratch, which tasted very much of strawberries. This glaze keeps for up to a month in the fridge.]

Source: Pierre Hermé, Secrets Gourmands

- 250g strawberries
- 200g sugar
- 10g pectin ("Vitpris" in France) [I used instead a kind of sugar sold specifically for making jams, I assume it contains pectin. Yes I happen to have this sugar at home because I keep buying it by mistake instead of regular sugar! I was elated to find a use for it, though I still have close to a kg to get rid of...]
- 1 tspn lemon juice

Wash the strawberries, dry them, hull them, puree them with a blender [I used a Bamix immersion blender], filter through a sieve, then pour into a saucepan. Heat the puree, then add the sugar and the pectin. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes while removing foam carefully [I didn't]. Let it cool.

5. Assembly
Spread a thin layer of glaze on the baked crust. Let it dry for a few minutes. Then spread about 1 cm (more or less, depending on your preference) of crème pâtissière on the crust. If the strawberries are large, cut them in half. Place them decoratively [I crammed as many in as possible, not focusing too much on esthetics] in the tart shell, starting with the largest ones in the center and scaling down toward the edges. Brush with glaze using a brush. If the glaze is too thick, dilute it with a tspn or two of water. Serve as soon as possible.

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