Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Fresh Strawberry Tart from Julia Child!

***I've become such a big fan of Julia Child. I'm currently reading her memoir, "My Life in France," and I'm in love! Brad recently gave me a beautiful set of her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" Volumes I & II. This is the very first recipe that I've tried out from Volume I. This recipe stood out to me because #1: I LOVE strawberries! and #2: Fresh fruit tarts just scream "summer!" to me. The recipe itself is pretty simple. Don't let the length scare you away...it's broken down into 3 parts, and if you tackle each one separately you'll be done in a breeze!

The tarts that line the bake case shelves in Paris all displayed gorgeously divine fruit tarts. I noticed they all had a beautifully shiny glaze over the top. This recipe definitely yields the same thing. I was so happy with the finished tart! It was almost too pretty to eat...I've never let that stop me in the past, though...hah.***

Tarte Aux Fraises
(Fresh Strawberry Tart - cold)
Recipe by Julia Child
Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking; Volume I

A 10-inch fully baked pastry shell (see "Sugar Crust" recipe below)
1 quart large, ripe, handsome strawberries
1 cup red currant jelly (apricot jelly can be substituted if you have trouble finding red currant)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. kirsch or cognac (I used Frangelico hazelnut liqueur)
1 1/2 to 2 cups chilled creme patissiere (custard filling...recipe below)

Hull the strawberries. If necessary to wash them, do so very quickly, and drain them on a rack.

Boil the currant jelly, sugar, and liqueur in a small saucepan until last drops from spoon are sticky. Paint the interior of the shell with a thin coating of the glaze and allow to set for 5 minutes. This will give the shell a light waterproofing. Reserve the rest of the glaze for the strawberries. Warm it briefly if it has hardened.
Spread a 1/2-inch layer of creme patissiere in the bottom of the pastry shell.

Arrange a design of strawberries over the cream. Put the largest strawberry in the center, and graduate down in size, placing the berries closely together, their stem ends in the cream. Spoon or paint over them a thin coating of the glaze, and the tart is ready to serve. Because of the glazed waterproofing in the bottom of the shell, the filled tart may wait an hour or so.

Sugar Crust
"Pate Sablee"
1 1/3 cups flour
3 to 7 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. double-action baking powder
7 tbsp. fat: 5 tbsp chilled butter and 2 tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place the flour, sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, and baking powder in the mixing bowl. Rub the fat and dry ingredients together rapidly with the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into bits the size of small oatmeal flakes. Blend in the egg and vanilla, and knead the dough rapidly into a ball. Place on a pastry board and with the heel of your head, not the palm, 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. The dough will be quite sticky if you have used the full amount of sugar. Form again into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for several hours until firm.

Creme Patissiere
(Custard Filling)
1 cup granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup flour
2 cups boiling milk
1 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms "the ribbon".

Beat in the flour.

Beating the yolk mixture, gradually pour on the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.

Pour into saucepan and set over moderately high heat. Stir with a wire whip, reaching all over bottom of the pan. As sauce comes to a boil it will get lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it. When boil is reached, beat over moderately low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour. Be careful custard does not scorch in bottom of pan.

Remove from heat and beat in the butter, then vanilla extract. If the custard is not used immediately, clean it off the sides of the pan, and dot top of custard with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming over the surface. Creme Patissiere will keep for a week under refrigeration, or may be frozen.


Stacy Hoover said...

I love strawberry recipes in the summer! This one will be added to my recipe box for sure! Thanks for sharing, it looks delicious!

Jennifer said...

Such a perfect tart!! And wow so simple!! :)

What's Cookin Chicago said...

This looks amazing - great job!

Macaroni and Cheesecake said...

Gorgeous! I've been wanting to get her cookbook and read her memoir ever since I saw the previews for Julie & Julia or whatever it's called. Great job on the beautiful tart!

jidgede said...

i absolutely LOVE your blog....your photographs are excellent and i love the way you explain everything....i have really enjoyed looking at your european trip.....we lived in italy for 2 years and your pictures brought back such fond memories....i am so glad you and your spouse got to do this while you are so young...........your blog is awesome....just can't tell you how much i am enjoying it....i like how you told about your favorite cookbooks and i loved the blog where you showed us your favorite "utensils"......you mentioned working for southern living once, what do you do now? please keep up the great blogging....jennie in tn <><

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

You could be the NEXT Julia Child.
Beautiful job!

Snooky doodle said...

wow this looks marvellous :)

Wellness information said...

By looking at it, water comes to my mouth. I love strawberries. Also its good for health.

Anonymous said...

Umm.. I was reading your recipe and I was wondering if it would be okay to do without the liqueur? Or is there another substitute that does not include alcohol? Please and thank you!

Celeste said...

Hi! Yes...you can certainly leave out the liqueur...no problem! Thank you for your comment! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I used to be addicted to these in Paris! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and the final product, your tart came out gorgeous!

I have a question, did you use a false-bottomed cake pan to bake the crust? Or would any pan work?

Thank you and keep up the good work!


Unknown said...

Very nice!
I love Julia Child's recipes!
Congrats for your photos. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG, thank you for this recipe. I am a French woman now living in Minnesota and ever since I was born, this tarte aux fraises has been my birthday cake. I asked my US husband who isn't the most experimented cook to do it for my birthday. He even did an home-made pâte sablée! It looked terrible but it wasn't so bad.