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Strawberry tart

(Makes a single 25 cm tart)

Pastry cream (from Thomas Keller's "Bouchon")

Egg yolks -- 132 grams (an individual egg yolk weights around 18 grams)

Granulated sugar -- 110 grams

1/2 vanilla bean (split lengtwise or about a 1 to 1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste)

Custard power -- 50 grams (use Bird's -- this is instead of using flour, but if you are using flour use 50 grams, and use an all purpose or a pastry flour)

Whole milk -- 550 grams

Unsalted butter -- 27 grams

Place the yolks in a bowl, scrape the beans from the vanilla pod and add them to the yolks and then add the sugar.

Using a stand mixer or hand beate and a whisk attachment whip the egg yolks and sugar. Start on low and then go up to medium until the eggs are light in colour, pale yellow and thick. Scrape down the down and mix again, making sure everything is incorporated.

Add the custard powder to the eggs, and start mixing again on low speed. Scrape down the bowl, mix again for a few seconds.

Add the milk to the egg mixture and whisk on low speed. If you can pour the milk in while it is whisking that works better, but it isn't essential. Scrape the sides of the bowl after all the milk has been added and then mix again.

Get a large bowl ready with ice in the bottom. You will use a second bowl to pour the hot pastry cream into, and then place that bowl on top of the ice.

Use a fine mesh strainer and strain the mixture into a heavy bottom pot or large saucepan placed on medium heat. Using a whisk stir constantly until it thickens. Make sure to rotate the whisk along the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching. I use a silicone coated whisk. But you could use a wooden spoon as well. Once it starts to bubble cook for another minute and a half, stirring/whisking constantly. Pour into the bowl you've got ready, and place it over the ice. Stir/whisk a minute and then whisk in the butter, in two additions. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap onto the top of the cream so it does not develop a "skin." Refrigerate for at least an hour. But it will keep for up to 4 days. If you need to use it quickly, keep the bowl on the ice bath for the hour or so until you need the pastry cream.

You cannot use the pastry cream until it has chilled.

Pastry (adapted from Raymond Blanc)

200 grams pastry flour

100 grams unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature

pinch of sea salt (I use Kosher salt)

15 - 30 grams sugar (optional and to taste).

1 medium egg (large is fine)

1 tbsp cold water

Mix butter, flour, salt, sugar if using in a large bowl until you get a sandy texture. Add the egg and the water, and mix until incorporated. Don't overmix. Combine to form a ball, press it down so it is a disc shape and wrap in plastic wrap and then shill in the fridge for about half an hour.

This recipe is enough for an 18-20 cm tart tin. But if you are using a large tart tin the recipe is very easy to scale up.

Place plastic wrap on the worktop so it is a bit larger then the size of the pastry you need to roll out. Place the pastry dough on the plastic wrap and put another piece of plastic on top. The plastic is to make the dough easy to handle. Roll the dough into a circle a bit bigger than the tart tin. Remove the top layer of plastic and using the bottom layer lift the pastry and flip it into the tart tin. Now remove the plastic wrap and gently press the pastry into the tin so there are no air pockets. You fan use the plastic wrap to help with this or a small ball of excess dough. Or your finger (lightly covered in flour).

Use the rolling pin and roll across the top of the tart tin, and then cut the edge with a knife. Or just cut the edge. Chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Prick the pastry shell with a fork in a few places. Place parchment paper over the pastry, making sure it is large enough to remove easily, and place on top of the parchment paper baking beans, rice or old pennies.

Bake at 220 C for 15 minutes, and then check. You will want to remove the parchment paper/baking beans about 5 minutes before the pastry is done in order to get some colour on the bottom of the pastry. Use your judgement. The unbaked pastry has a very distinct appearance and looks a bit "wet." When the bottom has a mixed look, some wet some dry, remove the parchment and bake until the pastry is done, and has light golden colour. The sugar will help with the colouring a little bit.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to let cool. Once the pastry is cool, you should be able to remove it from the pastry tin.

rolling pastry

Preparing for the filling

Take about 3/4 of a bar of white chocolate and melt it over a water bath using a double boiler. When it has melted pour it into the pastry shell. The white chocolate, once it cools, will act as a barrier, protecting the pastry shell from the pastry cream, preventing the pastry from going soggy. Once you've poured the chocolate into the pastry shell and using either a pallet knife, or just by rotating the pastry so that the entire bottom has a thin sheet of white chocolate covering, palace in the fridge until the chocolate has hardened.

Putting it all together

You will need lots of strawberries and some jam (either strawberry or apricot).

Place the pastry shell into your serving dish and fill the shell with the pastry cream. Level the cream off but it doesn't need to be perfect.

Use either whole strawberries or sliced ones to cover the pastry cream. I prefer to use whole strawberries as they keep longer. For individual tarts that will be eatin quickly you might want to slice them. Make sure you wash the berries and remove the stem.

To finish, heat up some strawberry (if you want to increase the strawberry flavour) or apricot jam with a few drops of water to make a glaze. Gently brush the berries with the glaze. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. And you are done!