California Central Coast Recipes
Fresh Strawberry Tart
Fresh Strawberry Tart is our family's recipe for a strawberry tart with a Shortbread Crust. It's absolutely divine! It is one of my absolute favorites recipes that my family has been making for decades. It was originally featured in our Midwest restaurant, the "Country Cousin." If you like strawberries, wait until you try this.
Years ago, strawberries were hard to come by and were relatively more expensive. For just a short period of summer they were available at different local farms. I remember my Mom and Nonna just before busy weekends at the restaurant, would buy several flats of strawberries and make up to six large strawberry pies a day, a batch at a time.---And all those strawberries had to be rinsed, hulled and picked over before you could even think about making the pies! As one of my first "professional cooking jobs" I was put to work to help in that department. Funny though, I don't remember getting paid --other than the "quality testing" samples that is!
What makes it so sensational is our own homemade recipe for the strawberry glaze. It's made from the culled strawberries, so you could even argue that it's one of cuisine's healthier desserts!
In this version we make the recipe as a tart. If you prefer, instead of using a tart pan, you can use a pie plate and make it as a strawberry pie. This recipe requires at least 2 hours chill time. But, ideally make it a day ahead of time and it will be perfectly set and ready for hassle free serving on the day of the big event.
Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 2 hours
The Crust for an 11 inch Tart Pan
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoons Salt
6 Tablespoons Cold Butter
3 Tablespoons Canola or Vegetable Oil
4 to 6 Tablespoons Whole milk
1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
The Strawberry Filling
4 pt Fresh Strawberries
1 to 1-1/2 cup Sugar , depending upon sweetness of the berries
1-1/2 cups water
4 to 5 teaspoons Corn Starch , depending upon the juiciness of the strawberries.
1/2 teaspoons Red Food Coloring if the strawberries do not have a lot of color
1 Set the oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 375F.
2 Spray a removable bottom eleven inch tart pan with nonstick spray. Optionally, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
3 In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add the vegetable oil. Using a pastry cutter or a couple of knives cut the butter into the dry mixture until the mixture is well blended and crumbly. Add the vanilla and mix the mixture well with a fork.
4 Start adding the milk, one tablespoon at a time, while mixing thoroughly. Keep adding the milk until the mixture is just a bit sticky and moist enough to hold together and be rolled out. It will take 4 to six tablespoons depending upon the flour used.
5 Form the dough into a ball, then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the tart pan. Carefully lift the rolled dough and place it evenly into the tart pan into the pan, pressing evenly all around to form a nice crust. Cut off the crust even with the top of the pan. Use a bit of the excess cutoff pieces of dough to build up the crust where ever it may be a bit thin or uneven.
6 Place a piece of aluminum foil over the crust, press evenly around, then place either beans (black beans work very well) or baking pie weights to hold the crust down while baking. Place the crust into the preheated oven and bake until the crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
7 While the crust is cooling make the filling. Start by washing and hulling the strawberries. Reserve the nicer ones for the pie. Take a 1 and a half cups of the not so nice looking strawberries, slice and place them into a pan with a cup of water. Bring the the water and strawberries to boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the strawberries soften and begin to break down.
8 Mix the sugar, corn starch and if using food coloring with the remaining one half cup water. Stir the mixture into the simmering berries and continue to cook until the glaze thickens and you see the mixture change from a rather opaque to a transparent color. (Hint: if after several minutes simmering, the mixture does not seem to be thickening, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold water. Slowly add the mixture to the liquid while stirring.)
9 While the strawberry glaze is thickening, arrange the reserved strawberries attractively in the cooled tart shell.
10 When the glaze has thickened, pour it evenly over the strawberries giving the the top a nice glossy glaze. Chill the tart for 2 hours or until firm.
This strawberry tart recipe begs for a generous dollop of homemade Chantilly Cream on top accompanied by a chilled glass of a sweet Botrytized White Wine or a Moscato.