Tarte aux fraises

It’s that strawberry time of year. So when friends were coming to dinner the other night I couldn’t resist the temptation to make a strawberry tart. This involves a little work, but the results are well worth it. And the assembly is fun. The strawberries are placed in concentric circles on layer of French pastry cream that you’ve spread over a delectably crumbly, pre-baked sweet tart shell. A bright red glaze produces the brilliant sheen. Sweet and fresh.

Tarte aux fraises / Strawberry tart

Making the sweet pastry, or pâte sablée, is child’s play once you get the hang of it. You mix together softened butter, an egg yolk and sugar, and then add flour until it holds together. When the dough is ready, you simply pat it into your tart pan — no need to roll it out. In other words, a child could do it (or be your kitchen helper).

Here in France many varieties of strawberry are available — gariguette, ciflorette, mara des bois, etc. — and opinions differ as to which is the best. Personally, I don’t think it matters a lot which kind of strawberries you use in this tart. They just need to be ripe and sweet. If you can get away with it, taste one at the market or supermarket to make sure.

A French strawberry tart is guaranteed to produce applause when you bring it out at the end of a festive lunch or dinner. It is also great at teatime. But don’t delay — we are already entering into cherry season over here, and the height of strawberry season will soon pass.

Happy cooking.


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