This tart is quite simple to make and is the perfect vehicle for showcasing the best local seasonal fruit. I have made this tart using other fruits and it is always good. Pastry, custard and fruit are such a winning combination.
The strawberries are especially tasty – and very cheap – at the moment so they were the obvious choice for me. It’s such a privilege to live in a climate warm enough to be able to enjoy a winter crop of strawberries!
Strawberries (about one 250g punnet)
1 tbsp strawberry (or apricot) jam
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
100g (3oz) butter
2-3 tblsp chilled water
To make the pastry, stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Remove the butter from the fridge and grate using a box grater. Add the butter to the flour, toss to coat, gently rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add just enough water for the dough to come together. Form the pastry into a flat round. Wrap in cling film and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease one 20cm (8 inch) loose bottom flan tin with butter. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it into a round large enough to line the tin (I find it is easier to roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper). Line the tin with the pastry, trim, pierce the bottom many times with a fork. Line the pastry with a piece of baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for about 20 minutes before removing the baking weights and paper. Bake for a further 5 minutes or so until the pastry is golden brown all over. Allow to cool before filling.
Adapted from The Macquarie Dictionary of Cookery
2 1/2 cups milk
2/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract*
Place milk and half of the sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Mix the egg yolks, flour and remaining sugar together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly until all combined. Pour back into the saucepan and stir over a low heat until the custard is thick (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir through the vanilla extract.
* You may use a vanilla bean if you prefer – Cut the vanilla bean in half (lengthways) and scrape out the seeds. Add both the pod and seeds to the milk before heating. Remove the pods before adding the heated milk to the eggs.
You may cut the strawberries any way you wish or simply place whole strawberries on top. I removed the green hull by cutting a v-shaped notch in the top of the strawberry before slicing. It not only removes the hull but also makes it into a pretty heart shape.
I brushed some strawberry jam over the top to make it look shiny. It is best to warm the jam slightly so it is easier to brush; about 10 seconds in the microwave will do.
To assemble, simply fill the pastry case with the crème patisserie, top with strawberries, brush over the strawberry jam.