Welcome to Monday Madness at The Championships. In the most spectacular piece of scheduling in sport Wimbledon plays all 16 singles matches on the same day. That’s both halves of the draw, in both the men’s and women’s game, all crowded into one insane but incredible day of tennis. For my Round Four recipe I am going with a French classic, traditional, delicious and appropriately Wimbledon. Strangely, it doesn’t actually involve cream, but as it is just about the creamiest dessert out there (including having the word crème in the title) I am giving it a pass and including it here. What do you think? Should I have picked something else, or like the spots of colour on predominantly white tennis gear, is it close enough?
Round Four- Strawberry Summer Tarts
For the Pastry (this is my personal shortcrust recipe. I have honed it to a perfect balance of sweetness, richness, bite and crumb over years of making tarts and pies)
250g of Plain Flour
150g Unsalted Butter
100g of Icing Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
For the Crème Pâtissiere:
350ml Full-fat Milk
1tsp Vanilla Essence
4 Organic Egg Yolks
100g of Caster Sugar
25g of Cornflour (our can use plain flour)
Plus- the Strawberries!
Place the flour in a larger bowl.
Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl
Using your fingertips work the butter and flour together until the dough starts to resemble crumbs. You don’t want any large lumps of butter in the dough.
Add the egg yolk and mix into the dough. At this point it will start to come together. More often than not the egg yolk is enough liquid to form the dough, however as yolks come in a huge variety of sizes there are times the dough might still be too dry. At this point I hold my hands under the cold tap before kneading the dough again. This way I can ensure the liquid is being added in tiny increments, and that my hands are cold which is helpful when working dough.
Once the dough has formed wrap is in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. I tend to make the dough into a patty shape rather than a ball. This allows the dough to chill faster.
You can make your crème pâtissiere while your dough is in the fridge.
Mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until thick and smooth, then set aside.
First heat the milk and vanilla essence over a low heat until gently steaming. Be careful not to let the milk burn on the bottom of the pan.
Gradually pour the milk into your egg mixture, stirring with a whisk as you do. Whisk again when all the milk is added, then return the mixture to your saucepan.
Cook over a low heat, whisking continuously until the mixture has thickened. It will set a little further as it cools but not much so make sure you allow it to become thick enough at this stage or it will be too running in the tarts.
Empty the mixture into a bowl and cover the surface with clingfilm, this will prevent a skin forming as it cools.
Preheat your oven to 180C (fan assisted).
Line your chosen pie dish with butter and flour. I find this easier to work with than greaseproof paper when making pies and tarts. I decided to make my tarts in a set of gorgeous mini moulds a friend bought me years ago, however the tart works just as well in a single large mould.
Remove your dough from the fridge and turn out onto either a flour kitchen surface or a sheet f grease proof paper. I like using greaseproof with a little extra flour on the pastry and the rolling pin. The greaseproof allows you to turn the pastry over more easily.
Roll the pastry until it is a few millimetres thick. You can add more flour to the rolling pin or the surface of the pastry if it is sticking.
If using multiple smaller mould cut the pastry to the correct sizes. I cut around a bowl. Place each individual piece of pastry into the mould, pressing gently but firmly into any ridges. If making a single tart simply place the entire pastry into the tin.
I left the pastry hanging over the edge of my tins. Pastry shrinks when cooking and this ensured it didn’t shrink into the moulds or lose too much shape. The excess falls away when cooking so it is helpful to have the tins on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and then fill with ceramic baking beans (you can use rice if you don’t have baking beans). These will keep the pastry flat when baking.
Bake for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully lift the greaseproof paper holding your baking beans out of your tart. I place the entire thing, paper and beans, into a bowl until they have cooled.
Place the tart/s back into the oven for a further five to ten minutes, until golden and dry to the touch.
Allow the pastry to fully cool before removing from the tin.
Cut your strawberries. How you cut them is your choice and depends a little on their size. I cut mine into three slices and used the two outside slices for my tarts (I ate the rest!).
Fill your tart/s with the crème pâtissiere until about ¾ full.
Place the strawberries on top of the crème pâtissiere in concentric circles, or as close to this as you can depending on the size of your tarts.
Pastry is always better when fresh so I would suggest eating immediately!
Pies are tarts are some of my very favourite things to bake, and certainly among my favourite things to eat. I hope you enjoy making these!