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Houston, TX
Just your atypical hispanic male living in the big city

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tarte aux Fraises (French Tart)


Today, it is Sunday and Mother's Day. Luckily, on this day, my mother had me also on Mother's Day hence me celebrating it today. I know I know....I should be relaxing on this special day, but it doesn't change the fact that I have to cook something and place it on my blog. This weekend was no different as I had 3 other items that I cooked for some hungry peeps over at the new place. On top of that, I opted to be working on the new place, so not only was I cooking/baking for Mother's Day, but I even had time to paint 1 room, 2 closets and put together a closet organizer! Talk about busy!

Well, when it came to this special day, I wanted to cook something that the ladies would appreciate. In addition, I wanted to also cook something that demonstrated how fresh ingredients could develop into something that even a person who doesn't like strawberries would appreciate (apparently I had one that didn't care for strawberry tarts....but they tried it!).

This recipe is a classic French dessert tart and I was inspired to make this from my visit to Paris, but to also impress Maw Maw (MC's grandmother). Normally, this would call for a custard (recipe to follow) as well as a scratch made crust.

Crust Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
ice water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt.

Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with bits of butter no larger than peas. I am not using a food processor, but I am sure you can use this in low.

Add the egg yolks, and continue blending with the pastry cutter until the eggs are evenly incorporated and the mixture resembles a fine meal.

Stir in the ice water with a fork, one tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is just moistened enough to gather and mold into a smooth ball. Keep in mind that I am making a rather large tart. Ideally, you can separate this into two different disks and yields 2 tart shells. I am going to use a spring form pan as this makes it easier to take out and it looks so much prettier out of the pan.


Flatten the disc and wrap with plastic, and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you prefer. The dough may also be frozen, but I tend to not freeze it more than a month because its not as fresh as I would like it to be.

Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough. Lift and turn the dough as you work, keeping the work surface dusted with flour to prevent sticking. Fit the dough into a tart pan and press it firmly against the sides and bottom without stretching it. Trim off any excess dough and then cover and chill the dough in the pan for at least 30 minutes before filling and baking.



To prebake the empty tart shell, prick the dough all over with a fork, cover lightly with foil and bake at 375° F (190° C) for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking until barely colored for a partially baked shell, or golden brown for a fully baked shell.

Keep in mind, this is a simple crust. It might not be as flaky as you are normally used to. Believe me, I am used to flaky crusts with my pies, but I think its refreshing to try something totally out of my comfort zone. 

Custard Ingredients:

2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring)
5 egg yolks
6 to 8 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons corn starch


In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean almost to boiling.

While the milk is heating, mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl, then whisk in the flour and cornstarch until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, and gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, and place over medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches a boil. Continue cooking for half a minute longer, stirring hard and constantly to keep the pastry cream smooth.

Remove the pastry cream from the heat. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to avoid a skin forming, and leave to cool.

The pastry cream can be used when cool, or covered and refrigerated. Stir chilled pastry cream before using.

Finally, after the shell and custard are both chilled, put together and top with freshly cut, ripe strawberries. Keep in mind, you can have this done the previous day (as I did late the night before). I didn't have to worry about cooking this as I had other things to worry about (my new place). Enjoy this recipe!


  1. Ismael, this looks so good and ambitious! You not only made everything from scratch, but also made the crust by HAND - that's awesome and braver that I am. I've ever only used my food pro for pastry crust. The whole cutting in with a fork or pastry-cutter is a little scary to me ;) And I'm glad you're sharing this with Made with Love Mondays - don't forget to link-up your recipe to this week's post...

  2. Thanks man! You know in all honesty it was a little cumbersome, but you know it is all well worth it. I also find that using a pastry cutter makes the butter get evenly distributed with the flour. You know me..I have to be working hard for the money...so hard for it! :)

  3. What a delicious looking tart! You can't beat those fresh strawberries and that pastry cream - Oh MY!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and I totally agree!

  4. Ismael, I know we tried this once before and communication kinda broke down, but I'd really like to feature this recipe in one of my upcoming Tuesday Tutor posts. If you're interested, please shoot me an email and I'll send further details. javelinwa77ior [at] gmail [dot] com

  5. Oh wow...and you know what...I thought I did that...lol...and as far a communication...you are right...its sorta hard when we get busy and still try to make time for our blogs...MY BAD!!

    Sure!...you tech savvy kid you! Send me the details.