Farmers markets are always a wonderful source of inspiration, and a visit to my local farmers market on Sunday was no exception. We arrived home with a wonderful bounty of beautifully sweet unwaxed apples, a bunch of beetroot, potatoes, beans, roma tomatoes, purple carrots, asparagus, strawberries and the biggest bunch of basil I’ve ever seen.
As we drove home my mind was swimming with ideas on how to make the most of this delicious bounty, settling on simple recipes to let the ingredients shine. First up I made a huge batch of pesto with the basil, to be served with homemade pasta for dinner that night. Next I made some beautiful caramelised onion, ricotta and tomato tarts for lunch, to use up some left over ricotta and pastry I had in the fridge.
As I was rolling out the pastry I realised I still had quite a bit of left over pastry, so settled on making strawberry custard tarts with the beautiful strawberries. These strawberries are the sweetest and tastiest strawberries I’ve had in such a long time, so I knew a simple pairing of strawberries and custard would really let the strawberries sing.
I’ve gone with an unsweetened pastry base here simply because it was what I had left over, and I don’t like waste, but if you’d like a sweet pastry base then use this pastry recipe (by the way the blueberry meringue tarts are pretty special too). For the filling I whipped up a batch of pastry cream flavoured with vanilla seeds, and of course, the strawberries are the crowning glory. For a professional looking finish I added a glaze of strawberry jam, however this is optional.
If making the tarts ahead of time I’d suggest preparing all of the individual components and assembling the tarts just before serving.
- 250g (2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
- 180g (3/4 cup plus 1 tbs) cold butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbs of chilled water
- VANILLA PASTRY CREAM (CREAM PATISSERIE):
- 6 egg yolks
- 150g (2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 70g (1/2 cup) plain flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- STRAWBERRY TOPPING:
- 3 cups of strawberries, sliced
- 2 tbs seedless strawberry jam
- 1 tbs boiling water
- Begin by making the pastry. Place the flour and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until the mixture begins to come together to form a ball. Turn the mixture out onto plastic wrap and shape into a disc. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out the pastry on a lightly floured bench or silicone baking mat until approximately 5mm thick. Line eight 9.5cm (4 inch) loose bottom tart tins with the pastry, making sure to press into the sides, and trim the excess. Prick all over the base of each tart with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (355 Fahrenheit) and line the tarts with baking paper or foil and fill with baking weights or beans. Bake for 10 minutes before removing the baking paper and weights and baking for a further 5 to 7 minutes or until the base is dry and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
- Place the milk and vanilla seeds and pod in small saucepan over a medium high heat and bring to just below boiling point. Turn the heat off and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. To make the vanilla pastry cream filling, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl until well combined. Remove the vanilla pod and return the pan to a medium high heat and just before it starts to boil remove the saucepan from the heat. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture until all the milk has been added and the mixture is well combined. By gradually adding the milk this will minimise the risk of the eggs curdling. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until thickened and the mixture is thick and glossy. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl (this step is optional but will help ensure a smooth custard) and cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin forming and refrigerate until cold.
- Just before serving fill each tart with custard and top with the sliced strawberries. Combine the jam and boiling water in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to brush the jam mixture onto the strawberries.