Here is one of my favorite French desserts: the French strawberry tart, also known in French as the “Tarte aux fraises”. This traditional French dessert combines a sandy crust (“pâte sablée”) with fresh strawberries arranged on a layer of pastry cream (“crème patissière”). When strawberries are in season (from early May to August), it’s one of the most popular French desserts that any bakery (“boulangerie”) in France will have on offer. Every French family makes this dessert every so often, and it’s usually the traditional dessert for birthday parties and garden parties on a hot summer afternoon. It’s the perfect French dessert to share with friends and family: it’s generous, sweet, and delicious!
La Pâte Sablée
In this recipe, everything is simple and entirely homemade: from the crust to the delicious vanilla pastry cream. The crust which is a so-called “pâte sablée” is quite easy to prepare. Like in the French lemon tart recipe, the particularity of the pâte sablée compared to other pie crusts is that you can bake it “à blanc”. This means that you need to bake it as it is first, without adding the filling. Then, the cream and strawberries are added once it is cooled. The crust must be slightly golden but not too much or it will collapse when you will try to slice it. You can use a store-bought pie crust if you wish, but I really recommend making the sandy crust yourself. The taste is incomparable.
La Crème Pâtissière
The crème pâtissière is a vanilla pastry cream made with milk and thickened with egg yolks. Once the pastry cream is ready, cover with cling film, creating contact with the cream, let cool, then generously spread over the pie crust. Top with fresh strawberries, sliced or cut in half, depending on your own personal preferences. Finally, you can glaze your strawberry tart with apricot jam (or other jams like strawberry, raspberry, or peach jam). Personally, I usually skip this step, as I enjoy the taste of strawberries.
Classic French Strawberry Tart Recipe (Tarte Aux Fraises)
For the sandy crust (pâte sablée):
For the pastry cream (crème pâtissière):
- 500 g fresh strawberries
For the sandy crust (pâte sablée)
- In a large bowl, mix the butter and 125g of powdered sugar. Then, add the almond powder to the mixture along with the rest of powdered sugar. Add the two eggs and mix until homogeneous. Add the flour and mix until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in a plastic film and place in the fridge for 2 hours, minimum.
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (392°F) or thermostat 6-7. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Use to line a deep, fluted, loose-bottomed tart tin. Trim the excess and prick the base all over with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill it with baking beans or rice. Place on a baking sheet and bake "à blanc" for 20 minutes. Remove the beans/rice and paper, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the pastry cream (crème pâtissière)
- Meanwhile, make the crème pâtissière. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm up the milk with the vanilla and half of the sugar. In a large bowl, wisk the the rest of the sugar with the yolks until lighter in color and fluffy. Whisk in the cornstarch. When the milk is just simmering, strain half of the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Transfer back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and over low heat, stirring constantly until it has thickened. Take the pan off the heat and add the cold butter in small pieces and mix. Cover the crème pâtissière with cling film, creating contact with the cream, and set aside to cool completely.
- Spoon the crème pâtissière into the tart, then level the surface with the back of a spoon. Wash, drain, de-stem and halve the strawberries. Place a strawberry half in the center of the start, then arrange concentric rings of fruit around it until all of the crème pâtissière is covered. Optional: gently warm the apricot jam with 2 tbsp water until melted, brush over the strawberries and leave for 2 minutes to set. Serve.
If you make the French strawberry tart with pastry cream, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating, letting me know how you liked it. Merci et bon appétit!
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