Monday, 14 January 2013
This summer, strawberries have been particularly delicious and thankfully cheap. I have been eating them by the punnet, at least one per week or more if I can get to the store regularly.
I have been adding them to smoothies and slushies, macerating them with lemon and sugar, mixing them into flapjacks in the morning and snacking on them just as they are.
I can’t get over how sweet they are this season. Even the stock standard producers are giving us succulent little beauties that remind me of my mother’s garden.
My mum grew a large patch in our sunny front yard, but it seemed like the skinks always got to them first. Worst of all they were very wasteful skinks because they'd gum a berry then move onto the next one without finishing it. When I’d head outside to pick a few they’d all be squashed and mushed, but still attached to the plant as if it was some hilarious skink practical joke.
I decided to go a little crazy for our New Years Day afternoon tea and with four punnets at my disposal I made this fabulous strawberry tart. The curd tasted amazing, the tart shell was perfectly crisp and the fresh strawberries on top gave a burst of juice to contrast with the creamy filling.
There are three steps to this recipe: the curd, the tart shell and the assembly. If you want, buy a tart shell but don’t cut corners on the wonderful strawberry curd.
Strawberry Curd Tart
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 8-10.
250g strawberries (about 1 punnet)
1½ cups strawberry curd (see below)
1 vanilla shortcrust tart shell (see below)
1. Cut the strawberries in long thin slices.
2. Assemble the decorative pattern on a plate to ensure you have enough slices.
3. Fill the pastry shell with strawberry curd. Chill filled pastry in fridge 20 minutes if it needs to firm up.
4. Place the strawberry slices decoratively on top.
5. Eat with abandon!
Note: you can also fold ½ cup of whipped cream into the curd, spread it into the tart base and then freeze it for two hours or so to make a semifreddo style tart.
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 1½ cups (375ml).
250g strawberries (about 1 punnet)
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
4 egg yolks
Juice of ½ lemon
55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
150g salted butter, coarsely chopped
1. Process strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor to make purée, then pass through a fine strainer to remove seeds. Yields about 200g purée.
2. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, add egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and butter. Whisk to combine.
3. Stir continuously over a saucepan of simmering water until thickened to custard consistency (around 15 minutes).
4. Set aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate until firm (2-3 hrs).
Vanilla Shortcrust Tart Shell
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes a 22cm circular shell.
175g chilled butter, chopped into small pieces
1 cup plain flour
¾ cup wholemeal flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1. In a small bowl, beat egg with vanilla bean paste.
2. Pulse the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until combined (you will still see flecks of butter).
3. Turn out flour onto a clean working station and make a well.
4. Add egg knead, with hands, until only just combined.
5. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180’C and grease 20cm tart tin.
7. Between two sheets of baking paper, roll out pastry to fit tin.
8. Place gently into tin, pressing to fit edges and fixing cracks. Use rolling pin to trim edges making sure not to cut them too close as the pastry will shrink during cooking.
9. Fill the tart tin with baking paper and pie weights (or you can freeze the pastry in the tin for at least 30 minutes and not use pie weights).
10. Bake in oven for 20 minutes then remove baking paper and pie weights and bake another 20 minutes until golden. It’s important the pastry is gold as that’s what imparts the flavour.
11. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin.