When strawberries come to fruition, daisies, with great abundance, grace the fields alongside them.
This is my field of daisies. I wait a long time to mow this two acres of prolific freshness of spring. I enjoy walking through the tall grass (pants tucked in socks and shirt tucked in pants) cutting daisies, phlox, the occasional poppy, taking in the fragrant aroma of wild mint underfoot.
Sometimes I even come upon a bed of a new fawn.
Following the rebirth of spring, strawberries are the natural order of fruit of the season. This week I made tarts. Usually, I make shortcake but I am trying to widen my horizons and learn new ways of serving desserts.
I stopped by my favorite orchard to pick strawberries. Mercier’s planted 100,000 plants because of all the people who visited last year missed out for u-pick at 36,000 plants. Hard to imagine the numbers. Of course, I’m grateful and I try to do my part supporting local farmers. I managed to fill my basket and then some.
I don’t make tarts that often and when I do, it is a struggle. I continue on until I get a pastry crust exact, then cheer.
Last week I made a tart for Vidalia Onions using the recipe of Holly Herrick’s book, Tarts – Sassy, Savory and Sweet. This week however, I’ve decided to try Mark Bittman’s tart recipe from his book How to Cook Everything. I’m experimenting with any brand, All-purpose flour to that of, White Lily Flour, the latter used by Holly.
In my quest to achieve tart perfection, I’m unsure which brand of flour is better. Until such time I have overcome intimidation, I shall continue the comparisons.
This recipe makes an 8 to 10 inch tart. I’ve much to learn about pies and tarts but for the moment I’m satisfied with the outcome I’ve provided here. I have now decided a food processor is more efficient in the handling of pastry. A hand held pastry blender takes a little longer and possibly causes the problems I’ve been having.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, set aside extra flour for rolling out pastry
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice water (I just have a glass or bowl of water containing ice nearby)
1 pound strawberries, sliced
Whisked Egg Wash:
One whole egg
One tablespoon water
pinch of salt
In a processor,combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse for 5 seconds. Drop in the butter chunks and pulse the mixture until uniformly blended about 40-50 pulses. The butter bits should be covered with flour. No need to blend anymore. Add the egg yolk and pulse 10 times. Add three tablespoons of ice water. Pulse an additional 10-15 times.
Place dough in a bowl. With your hands work the mixture until you form a ball (if needed, add another tablespoon or two of water). Now wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze 10 minutes. Tightly wrapped you can leave the dough in the fridge for a day or two, or in the freezer for a couple of weeks.
After the dough has cooled down, bring from the fridge. Sprinkle a counter top with flour or if you’d prefer use a large sheet of parchment paper or silicone baking liner and place the dough ball on it. You will still need to sprinkle flour on the paper or liner. Using a flour covered rolling pin, roll out the dough starting from the center outward. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour. Lift and turn the pastry a quarter turn every couple of pressings from the pin. (Tip: you can make repairs to the flattened dough by pressing the ragged edges together and rolling same.)
Flour your rolling pin and carefully lift the edge of the pastry and roll up and over the rolling pin. With caution, place over your tart pan. Filling the pan now with the pastry, press lightly into corners and along wall of pan. Using your finger, press the grooves along the wall of the pan. Take the rolling pin and roll along the top of the pan to cut off excess dough.
Place parchment paper in the bottom of the pastry dough and cover with pie weights or beans. Bake 20 minutes in pre-heated oven at 425° F. Remove from oven and remove pie weights.
With a pastry brush, dip in egg wash and paint tart. Place back into oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Tip: Always use an oven thermometer and adjust the thermostat accordingly. Learn your oven. I have two and both run on different temps.
Wash grit and dirt from the strawberries. Core the leaf out and then julienne each strawberry. Place all in a medium size bowl. My husband and I do not like sweet, sugary desserts so we prefer to add a sprinkle of cinnamon to our fruit. After all, if eating a strawberry right off the plant satisfies you, why add sweetener?
Whipping Cream….I prefer to make my own, it is so simple it’s ridiculous.
One pint of Whipping Cream
One tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Add ingredients to a bowl and whip with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. See told ‘ya it was simple.