Strawberries are here!! I was so excited to see the fresh strawberries in the market today. That too ripe, juicy strawberries from Mahabaleshwar. Strawberries coming to market for me are the prelude to the cold or atleast pleasant December coming ahead in Mumbai. They remind me of the sweet sweet hill station of Mahabaleshwar, of school picnics, fresh pink ice creams and especially my childhood days. I picked up mine from the Palladium but my Dad used to pick them up from the CityLight Market at Mahim. He would get loads of them home and my Mom would promptly lovingly make lots of compote and store in jars. My parents were such a team. Needless to say, all the strawberry compote would disappear with just a couple of visits from mine and my sister's friends. And my Mom would come back home from work and actually be happy to hear that. She was such a generous soul.
So after seeing boxes of these deep red strawberries at Foodhall, I picked up two big boxes as I knew half of them will be gobbled up before me touching them. Whenever I see so many juicy strawberries in a the basket, the first recipe that comes to my mind is a delicious tart with silky smooth sweet vanilla custard topped with loads of these fresh ripe, red, luscious berries. Its just three simple components put together to make this showstopper tart.
There are some posts when you just cannot put enough of pictures. Every picture seems so good that you just cannot leave them out. They say that you eat with your eyes first and I completely believe that. I am a huge collector of cookbooks and I usually tend to buy the ones which have large pictures put together tastefully. Those are the books that I browse through often. It is really easy to get the essence of the dish just by looking at the picture. I usually stay away from cookbooks that are purely verbose or plain black and white. So feast your eyes with this one. My camera couldn't stop itself.. :) This tart is a real showstopper!!
For the Sweet Short Crust Pastry (for 9 inch tart base):
200 gm all purpose flour
1 tsp icing sugar
100 gm of chilled unsalted butter, cubed
3-4 tsp cold water
For the Vanilla Custard (Pastry Cream) :
(Adapted from Tartine , an absolutely must have book)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Topping :
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
For the Sweet Short Crust Pastry :
1. Mix together the flour and icing sugar in a large bowl and add chilled cubed butter.
2. Rub this mixture with your finger tips gently till it resembles coarse crumbs
3. Add the chilled water in it and bring together the dough into a flat disk
4.Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for atleast 25 minutes.
5. Remove from the fridge and roll out gently between cling films.
6. Line your tart pan with this dough and put in the fridge for about 15 minutes
7. Remove the lined tart pan from fridge and blind bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180 degrees C with the baking beans in the parchment paper.
8. Remove from oven and let cool completely
For the Vanilla Custard (Pastry Cream)
1. Pour the milk in a saucepan and bring to just about near boil.
2. Mix together cornflour,salt and icing sugar in a bowl.
3. Add whole eggs in this, one by one and whisk till smooth
4. Pour 1/3rd of the heated milk in this egg mixture in a gentle thread and whisk well. Make sure you pour in a gentle thread and whisk continuously so that the eggs do not curdle.
5. Pour the egg mixture back in the saucepan with the remaining milk and whisk continuously.
6. Whisk on gentle heat till the custard becomes smooth and silky. Add the vanilla extract to this.
7. Cool the custard and pass it through a fine sieve to remove any lumps to give a silky smooth texture.
8. Add the butter to this and whisk till smooth to form beautiful silky vanilla custard.
Putting together the Tart :
1. Remove the pastry shell from tart pan and place it on the serving platter.
2. Spoon the vanilla custard generously into the tart.
3. Top with freshly sliced strawberries
It tastes best when the whole tart is refrigerated for atleast a couple of hours and served chilled.