Friday, June 11, 2010
Tarte aux fraises
I found the first one in one of my favorite cookbooks, My French Kitchen by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. Joanne Harris is also the author of one of my favorite books, Chocolat, which was turned into one of my favorite movies by the same name (Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche). Oh là là! Lots of favorites for so early in the morning.
For the almond pastry:
1-1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. (2 oz.) ground almonds (use a food processor-- SC note- I use a coffee grinder, one that I use just for spices or almonds)
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. (1-3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus softened butter for the pan
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
2 to 3 large egg yolks, beaten
For the filling:
1/2 c. red currant jelly
2 lbs. fresh strawberries, tops trimmed
Make the pastry. Mix the flour and ground almonds. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. (Remember-- cool kitchen and cool fingers, if you can.) Mix in the brown sugar. Using a round-ended knife in a cutting motion, add enough of the egg yolks until the ingredients come together into a dough ball. Lightly knead the dough on a cool, floured work surface to ensure an evenly blended pastry. Wrap and refrigerate to chill and rest for 40 minutes.
Lightly butter a 10-inch tart part with a removable bottom. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, then line the pan. Refrigerate to chill and relax for 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375F.
Line the pastry shell with parchment paper and dried beans or pastry weights and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the paper and beans, reduce the heat to 300F and bake for 25 minutes, until the tart shell is golden and set. Remove from the oven and cool.
Gently heat the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat until thin and smooth. Allow the jelly to cool a little.
Carefully release the cooled tart shell and transfer it to a large, flat plate. Take care, as this pastry is fragile. Cut any large strawberries into smaller pieces, then pile the fruit into the shell. Spoon the warm jelly over the strawberries to give an even coating. Leave to set for 1 hour, then serve.
This one is from Clémentine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain, another wonderful book. It is about an American family, living in Senlis (we've had penpals and an exchange with a school in this town) and their French cook, Clémentine.
Tarte aux Fraises
(I usually cheat and buy one...we did this in Arles, too. Get the refrigerated kind, let it warm up a little bit so that it is easier to work with before rolling it out and lining the pan.)
But if you want to make your own, here is Julia Child's recipe for pâte brisée-
"You must train yourself to work rapidly, particularly if your kitchen is warm, so that the butter will soften as little as possible. Use very quick, light movements, and do not linger on the dough at all with the warm palms of your hands. A pastry blender may be used if you wish, but a necessary part of learning how to cook is to get the feel of the dough in your fingers. Il faut mettre la main à la pâte!"
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 sticks chilled butter cut into 1/2-inch bits*
A scant half cup of iced water, plus more droplets as needed
*Julia actually calls for 1-1/2 sticks of butter and 4 Tbsp. of chilled shortening. I don't use shortening anymore when I cook so I use all butter.
Place flour, salt, sugar and butter in a big mixing bowl. Rub the flour and butter together rapidly between the tips of your fingers until the butter is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes. Do not overdo this step as the butter will be blended more thoroughly later.
Add the water and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass. Sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon more water by droplets over any unmassed remains and add them to the main body of the dough. Then press the dough firmly into a roughly shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable, but not sticky.
Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board. With the heel of one hand, not the palm which is too warm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. This constitutes the final blending of fat and flour, or frisage.
With a scraper or spatula, gather the dough again into a mass; knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and wrap it in waxed paper. Either place it in the freezing compartment of the refrigerator for about one hour until it is firm but not congealed, or refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Uncooked pastry dough will keep for 2-3 days under refrigeration, or may be frozen for several weeks. Always wrap it airtight in waxed paper and a plastic bag.
Back to the tart:
Use your favorite pastry recipe. Line a 9-inch pie pan (or a straight-sided tart ring) with a thin layer of the pastry dough. Prick the bottom of the dough well all over with a fork. Press a sheet of aluminum foil over it and fill with dried beans. Bake the pastry shell for about 10 minutes in a preheated 400F oven. Remove the foil and beans and lower the over heat to 350F. Bake the shell for another 7-10 minutes or until it is lightly browned.
Cool the shell and fill it just before serving with neat circles of raw hulled strawberries, stem ends down. Have ready 1 cup of the jelly stirred thoroughly with 2 tablespoons of water. Spoon this over the strawberries and heat the tart for 5 minutes in a hot oven. Serve immediately.
Voilà! Remember to take photos, la petite mère Catherine, if you make a tarte with your fraises and send one to me.
Bon appétit, la tarte aux fraises (and Johnny Depp)!