At 14, on returning home for summer from boarding school, my parents proudly announced I had been accepted to a cookery school in Paris. Something was said about broadening my culinary skills for a pending O-level examination, and improving my failing French. Off I went, with Mother as chaperon.
That first morning, I discovered I was the youngest by a decade at best, and all fellow students were chefs by profession. Nothing like being thrown in the deep end. My first task was to make sweet pastry for Tarte aux Fraises. Prior to this, I had been quite confident in my pastry skills. That morning changed everything. It was a blistering hot summers day, and in spite of the cool marble counters I was unable to bring “la pâte” to the tin in one piece. Mortifié oui! I refrained from making any dish that employed pastry, let alone the sweet French variety up until last year.
On discovering one of the many perks of Central Coast living (read about it here: http://www.adored1.com/blogs/news/31783297-very-berry-good-strawberries )
I decided it was high time to address my bitter sweet pastry issue. With a little research, discovered David Leibovitz's blog, where Mr. Leibovitz shares an amazing fail safe method for sweet pastry (see link below). Thus, I aproned up and got to work.
"Tarte aux Fraises avec Noix de Cajou", or simply "Strawberry Tart with Cashew Custard".
You will need:
A 9" spring form baking tin or a pie dish- depending on whether you wish to serve from the dish or present the tart on a stand.
90 gm of unsalted butter, grass-fed if you prefer
1 level tablespoon of coconut ghee
3 tablespoons of water.
1 tablespoon of brown sugar or heaped tablespoon of local honey.
175 gm of spelt.
200 gm Organic Raw cashew nuts
200 ml of unsweetened almond milk ( or milk of your preference)
3 dates de-stoned
2 or 3 punnets of strawberries.
Set oven at 400 F 200 C
Line the base of a 9” tin with greaseproof /baking paper.
Measure butter, coconut ghee, sugar and water into an oven proof dish. Place in oven until the butter starts to bubble and brown. Takes roughly 10 mins.
Meanwhile: Measure raw cashew nuts, place in blender jug. Add de-stoned dates and almond milk. Depending on the freshness of your raw cashews you may need to add a little more or less milk. Do so in stages start with 150 ml then add more as required. Blend unit a smooth thick custard forms. Place in refrigerator.
Very carefully remove the melted butter sugar mixture from the oven, add the 175 gm of Spelt flour. Please be take care not to splat hot butter and sugar over yourself! Mix until it forms a ball in the oven dish, the flour taking up all the liquid.
Transfer to the spring form tin. Use a spatular to press out the mixture evenly from the center to the edges, so that the dough starts to creep up the sides of the tin. Press in with a fork to create the raised edge and trim any excess if you want a neat edge.
Prick with fork and place back in oven for a further 10 mins until golden brown.
Whilst baking wash, top and halve strawberries ( Remember to save your strawberry tops for obligatory strawberry water)
Remove tart crust from oven and allow to cool completely. When cooled, remove from tin, fill with cashew custard.
Top with strawberries et voila!
Keep your tart in the fridge. Best to remove from refrigerator 15 -20 mins before serving, to bring out the full flavors of the fruit.
You may have noticed I am only using Spelt flour in recipes. Two years ago I discovered I am wheat intolerant, thus pretty much eat wheat free.
Spelt, is not gluten free but contains a more soluble gluten and therefore more digestible than wheat flour.
The basic format of the recipe for the sweet french pastry was discovered here. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/05/french-tart-dough-a-la-francaise/ Thank you David & Mme Caillat.