Strawberry Tart
There is no denying winter is slowing coming to an end.  Yesterday, Sunday, was splendidly perfect.  Sunny.  Clear.  Dry.  The temperature?  It reached a pleasant 29C (85F).  Yes, a little warm for winter, but this is the sub-tropics after all!

I was pottering in the garden taking advantage of the glorious sunshine, and soaking up the impressive abundance of flowers in bloom.  Smiling and cheery at the floral display, I walked back into the house to check on some baking, bien sûr.

I was overwhelmed by the smell.  It hit me immediately.  It was the sweet, buttery, nutty aroma of my pistachio pastry quietly blind-baking away in the kitchen.  I rushed to the oven.  It was all I could do to pull the little tart shells out then and there.  They smelled divine!  Instead, I waved the palm of my hand in front of the oven door towards my nose to breathe in all the pastry goodness.

I was not surprised at the glorious aroma.  I was baking a variation of pâte sablée; the most rich and flavourful French short pastry.

The Roux Brothers reference two pâte sablée recipe versions in Roux Brothers on Patisserie.  Both are made with flour, butter, egg yolks and icing (confectioners) sugar.  But one also substitutes some flour for ground almonds.  This variation reminded me of a lovely berry tart using a pistachio (instead of almond) dough in my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.  With pastry month in full swing, there was no time like the present.

This tart was melt-in-your-mouth good.  The pâte sablée pastry has a delicate crisp and crumbly texture.  The sweet, buttery-ness of the pastry pairs well with the slightly sharp and tangy crème fraiche filling.  A hint of summer bursts through with a perfect finish of strawberries on top.

Perfect tart.  Perfect day.

{ Strawberry and Pistachio Tarts } Adapted from Martha Stewart

* Ingredients *
All purpose flour, for dusting
7 oz or 200g crème fraiche
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioners sugar (icing sugar)
8 oz or 240g fresh strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
Pistachio Tart dough

* Directions *
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 6mm (1/4 in) thickness. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour.  With a 15cm (6 in) dessert plate as a guide, use a sharp knife to cut out eight rounds, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Fit dough rounds into eight tart rings, pressing into the edges. Chill for 10 minutes. Using a sharp paring knife, trim dough flush with the top edge of each ring. Refrigerate the shells until well chilled, about 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180C or 375 F. Line shells with parchment, leaving a little overhang. Fill with pie weights. Bake until edges are just beginning to turn light golden, about 15 mins. Remove parchment and weights; continue baking until surface is light golden all over, about 6 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. After 10 minutes, remove pastry from the rings.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine crème fraiche, cream and sugar.  Whisk until soft peaks form.  Using an offset spatula, spread mixture into cooled tartlet shells. Arrange strawberries and pistachios on top. Serve immediately.

Makes eight 10cm (4 in) tartlets or one 35x10cm (14 x 4 in) tart

{ Pistachio Tart Dough }

* Ingredients *
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioners sugar (icing sugar)
2 large egg yolks
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, finely ground
2 tsp heavy cream

* Directions *
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and icing (confectioners) sugar on a low speed until combined, about 2 mins. Add egg yolks and mix until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add 1 cup flour and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Add remaining ¼ cup flour, pistachios, salt and cream and mix until flour is no longer visible. Wrap tightly using plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hr or overnight.

{ A few tips … }

Pâte sablée is a little tricky and delicate to work with due to its high butter content.  It is an extremely soft dough. 

1. If baking in summer, or in a hot climate, regularly pop the dough on a baking tray covered with the plastic wrap and chill for 10-15 minutes.  I have also had success rolling out similar pastry dough between plastic wrap.  See tips here :: { Linzer cookies }
2. Ensure you do not roll out the dough too thin as it can be fragile when baked.
3. If you have trouble rolling out the dough, simply press it gently into your pan.

Advertisements