French Strawberry Tart

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It’s no secret that early summer brings a host of fresh berries to local farmers markets and grocery stores. I fell victim to the two-for-one strawberry deal at the grocery this weekend. With two pints of strawberries on hand, I knew I had to do some baking. Last time I was home in Minnesota my dad shared a strawberry tart recipe from the Chicago Tribune dated March 23, 1978. The article was titled Make Strawberry Tarts the French Way. So exactly what is the French way of making tarts? Consider a pastry rich in butter, a creamy custard filling, and a glazed strawberry topping.

Tart recipes are easy to make when you need an elegant dessert. I didn’t have a particularly special occasion for this tart, but I will say that it was delicious. It had just the right amount of strawberry flavor without being cloyingly sweet. If you add in some homemade whipped cream as a garnish, this recipe is the perfect addition to your summer dinner or lunch.

French Strawberry Tart

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Pastry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/3 cups ice water

Custard Ingredients
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 cups hot milk
2 tablespoons kirsch
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze Ingredients
1 quart fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch

Directions
Combine flour, sugar, and alt. Cut in butter and shortening until crumbly. Stir in just enough water to form ball. Chill dough about 1 hour for ease in handling. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured pastry cloth or board. Transfer to 10-inch tart pan by rolling dough on rolling pin. Trim edge by pressing dough against edge of pan. Prick bottom and sides of tart shell. Line with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and fill with uncooked rice or dry beans. Bake at 400 degrees about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove plastic wrap with rice. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

For custard, beat egg yolks with electric mixer. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and forms ribbon. Beat in flour. Pour mixture into heavy saucepan; add hot milk in thin stream. Heat and beat until thickened. Beat in kirsch, butter, and vanilla. Cover and chill.

For glaze, wash and dry strawberries. Slice enough berries to measure 1 1/2 cup; mash and pour into small saucepan. Stir in sugar and kirsch. Heat to boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Pour glaze into blender; process until smooth; strain and set aside. Slice remaining berries. Pour custard into cooled crust, spreading evenly. Arrange sliced berries in attractive patter over custard. Spoon glaze over. Chill until serving time. Tart may be served with sweetened whipped cream, if you wish.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When making pastry for a French tart, remember to use cold butter and ice water. Cold ingredients help prevent the development of gluten in the flour, as does chilling after mixing. Gluten is a protein that causes toughening of the pastry—although needed in yeast breads to form the structure of the loaf, it is not desirable in pastry. The more you handle the past, the more gluten will develop. Light rolling and light mixing are essential. Also be careful not to stretch the pastry once you roll it. When placing it in the tart pan, gently coax it into the edges of the pan—don’t stretch it from the center, but pull it in from the edges to make it fit.

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11 thoughts on “French Strawberry Tart

  1. Oh, my…looks like I am missing a delicious treat. Your tart looks amazing. Strawberry season is such a fun time. The taste and their bright redness are a yearly joy. I love the compositions you create with foods, plates, towels and dishes all working so well together. I look forward to your posts, Heather. Thanks for this one!!!!

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    • This tart was so much fun to make and actually surprisingly easy! I’m inspired to make more tarts… perhaps apple or peach next. I’m also looking forward to our 4th of July inspired baking adventure coming up. It will be great fun :)

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  2. The pictures are lovely, Heather, and the tart is exactly the kind of dessert I would be happy to eat. Sweet but not too much and fruity. Totally my kind of thing! Hope everything is well. :-)

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