Recipe: Strawberry Tartlets!

Bare with me and my very amateur food photography skills. Still playing around with my first DSLR so here's a picture of one I made a while ago
Bear with me and my very amateur food photography skills. Still playing around with my first DSLR so here’s a picture of one I made a while ago

I make these when I want something more interesting than a fairy cake or a slice of banana bread. You do need to put a bit of effort into them (and sorry I know it looks like a long recipe) but they’re worth it in the end! The custard is essentially a “cheat’s” version (rather than a traditional crème pâtissière, which will need a bit more practice) so it’s really only the pastry that could cause you trouble.

Makes 15 tartlets

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 0.5 egg yolk

Custard

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • 300ml crème fraîche
  • (seeds of) 1/2 vanilla pod or 1 tsp or so of vanilla extract

Topping

  • 15 or so strawberries

Method

For the pastry:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift flour and sugar into a medium- to large-sized bowl.
  3. Cube the butter into the bowl and using your fingertips, rub into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the egg yolk and using your hands, work into the mixture until it forms a dough – see recipe notes
  5. Wrap pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Roll out onto a floured surface as thin as you can. (Keep re-flouring when it starts sticking)
  7. Use a cutter slightly bigger than the size of the rounds of your cupcake/muffin tray to stamp out as many rounds as you can.
  8. Carefully tease the pastry into the tray, making sure it fits right into the bottom edges.
  9. Blind bake (see notes!) with any kind of dried beans/pulses for 15 minutes, removing the beans for the last few.
  10. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

For the custard

  1. Gently heat the crème fraîche and vanilla in a small saucepan until it’s thinner in consistency and bubbling around the edges.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Pour the liquid over the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you do this.
  4. Return this whole mixture to the saucepan and gently heat until it thickens and starts to bubble – keep an eye on it and stir often with a wooden spoon.
  5. When it’s almost the same consistency as the crème fraîche you started with, pour into a bowl.
  6. Cover, with the cling film touching the actual custard to stop a skin from forming.
  7. Once cool, pop in the fridge for as long as you can before you serve.

For the assembly:

  1. Once the pastry cases and custard have cooled, slice the strawberries (I like to slice at a diagonal and thinly, but however you like really!).
  2. Fill the cases until about 3/4 full and fan the strawberries on top.
  3. Try one and dust with icing sugar if not sweet enough.

Recipe notes:

Pastry

I’m definitely not the best pastry maker so I don’t know all the secrets to the best shortcrust yet.. I’ll let you know when I do, but here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

  • If the dough’s too dry before you put it in the fridge, add a splash of cold water. If too wet, don’t worry too much, flour will be added when you roll it out.
  • An easy way to blind bake: before you fill the tray with your pastry rounds, press squares of foil into the muffin tray so it’ll have the same shape as the tart cases.
  • The thinner you can roll out the pastry, the better! We want crisp and golden.
  • Use store-bought puff pastry instead of shortcrust for a different texture and an easier recipe. I’ll dedicate another post on how to do this.

Custard

  • This crème fraîche version has never failed me. But if it goes lumpy, let the crème fraîche cool a little before you pour it over the egg (so it doesn’t scramble).
  • I keep my custard in the fridge for about an hour, to let it chill and thicken. If you want, you can leave this step out – it’ll just be a little runny.

Toppings

  • Experiment with different fruits! It’ll work well with blueberries, raspberries and probably slightly roasted/poached apricots too.
  • Try the fruit before you bake to test their sweetness. Then you can adjust the amount of sugar you use in the rest of the recipe.
  • If you want a shiny, sweet glaze, brush over some ‘melted’ apricot jam.

Don’t worry if they don’t come out perfectly! If they’re not leaking and the people eating them are rubbing their stomaches, smiling and mmm-ing, they’re successful! 😉

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