Strawberry season is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest. We have had a cool spring and summer temperatures are average so strawberries are large and sugar sweet. I have several berry recipes that my family loves and I tend to make them over and over since the berry season is so short.
Strawberry Hazelnut Pavlova Roll is at the top of our list
Strawberries and Whipped Cream rolled inside a crunchy, hazelnut studded meringue
A luscious combination of fresh Strawberries, meringue and whipped cream
Strawberries, Mandarin Oranges and Avocado Slices in a sweet, tangy citrus vinaigrette
Our favorite seasonal pie is made up of a rich pastry cream and sliced, glazed strawberries topped with a large dollop of sweetened whipped cream. I make this the way my mother and grandmother did and it always gets rave reviews. This week I decided to change it up a little bit and turned to Ina Garten’s wonderful The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook for some inspiration.
- TART SHELL:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- PASTRY CREAM:
- 6 large egg yolks at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Cognac or brandy.
- TART SHELL:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl,sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch round or a 9-inch square false bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.
- Butter 1 side of a square of aluminium foil to fit inside the tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and the foil and prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- PASTRY CREAM:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light yellow and falls back into the bowl in a ribbon. On low speed, beat in the cornstarch. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour it into the egg mixture. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick, about 8-10 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat 2 to 3 minutes more. Taste to be sure the cornstarch is cooked. Remove from the heat, mix in the butter, vanilla, cream and Cognac if desired and strain into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate till cold.
- TO ASSEMBLE TART: Spread the bottom of a cooled tart shell with cold pastry cream. Arrange washed and well dried strawberries on top of cream. Brush with a little warmed strawberry jam. Slice and serve with a spoonful of sweetened whipped cream.
Ina makes a raspberry tart (page 182) with a crust she says resembles a shortbread cookies rather than traditional piecrust. The sturdy crust has a rich, buttery flavor and would have been more suitable if I had used my 1″ deep tart pan rather than a deeper 3″ pan. There was just too much crust and it was too heavy for the amount of pastry cream and fruit. If you like a cookie crust I’m sure you would like Ina’s version. Ina’s recipe for pastry cream (page 197) was delicious, rich and creamy and I will use it often in the future but it wasn’t as thick and I had hoped and the tart slices didn’t hold their shape very well. The next time I make individual fruit tarts this is the cream filling recipe I will use.
So, for the time being anyway, I’ll stick to my tried and true recipe for Strawberry Cream Pie using my favorite pie crust recipe and a pastry cream recipe that holds up when the dessert is sliced. The flavors of the tart I made with Ina’s recipes are wonderful but there’s just nothing like doing it mom’s way.