I think it’s only fitting to fill the week of my birthday with dessert posts.
And this recipe is particularly appropriate because I got it two years ago on my birthday. I had the great good fortune to be in Paris with my parents, siblings, and husband, and my dad treated us all to an incredible day of real French market shopping, cooking, and baking with Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes, a Parisienne chef who does French market tours and cooking classes.
Before you hate me, picture my husband rolling his eyes at all this. He and my brother found the whole experience very stuck-up, mainly because they were cutting up during the market tour and Paule made a withering (and, I’ll admit, very French) comment about acting their age. However, they didn’t complain about the food. If you are ever in Paris and find yourself in possession of a ridiculous amount of euros, one of her half-day classes is worth every one.
I want to take you through the entire menu she served us (which I have the recipes for and make from time to time) but since this is a series on pie crust, I’m going to just get right down to it.
The great thing about this crust is that it practically makes itself. Observe:
1. The butter is melted in the oven in a Pyrex bowl until it’s bubbling and browned. Paule explained that while this is not the healthiest way to treat butter, it is absolutely essential in French cooking and an important component of taste—and therefore totally worth the health risks of eating a little oxidized fat.
2. The rest of the crust ingredients are added, including an unspecified amount of flour. Paule indicated that one was simply to add it by the spoonful until the texture was right. David Lebovitz kindly did the recon work to discover exactly how much you really need for those of us who are less artistic in our cooking methods.
3. Then you press the dough into a springform pan. The ideal size is 8 inches, and mine was 8 1/2, but I made it work. Using a measuring cup helps make sure everything is even.
4. You prebake the crust before putting anything in it. I love this because you can make it in advance and cut your prep work in half.
Now, what to put in the pie shell? Any tart recipe will work as far as I know, but this Strawberry Almond Cream Tart is perfect for summer—decadent, light, and not too sweet.
Although the recipe is simple, it does contain ingredients you might not readily have on hand. This is one time when I don’t mind making a special trip to the store (or online). The first ingredient is ground blanched almonds. You can certainly make these at home if you have a food processor, by blanching them and then finely grinding them, or you can buy them like this. You could also try using almond flour, although I’ve never made it that way—don’t be afraid to experiment, though!
The second ingredient is kirsch, also called kirschwasser, a cherry liqueur that is utterly delicious. Pretty much any liquor store will carry it, and you will thank me for getting it into your pantry. You can use it in this recipe, you can drink it as a digestif after a meal, and you can make kirsch cherries with it, which would be an absolutely fantastic alternative to strawberries on top of this tarte.Jump to Recipe
5. Once you’ve made the filling, spread it into the baked crust evenly.
6. Let the tart cool in the pan and then remove the outside liner.
7. After stemming the strawberries, you can slice and arrange them however you’d like. This looks complicated but take it from me, the most impatient baker in the world—it took surprisingly little time.
8. Finish it off with powdered sugar, and you can now fake it as a bona fide pastry chef!
Tarte aux Fraises Crème D’Amandes (Strawberry Tart with Almond Cream)
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Flour as necessary
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 lb. strawberries
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 4 Tbsp ground blanched almonds or almond flour
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp kirsch
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 F. In oven-safe bowl, combine butter, oil, water, salt, and sugar. Place in hot oven for 15 minutes until boiling; butter should have just started to brown.
- Remove from oven and immediately add flour, enough until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Keep adding flour one spoonful at a time until the mixture pulls off the sides of the bowl.
- Line 8.5-inch springform pan or tarte pan with dough. Pierce bottom with a fork and line the sides of the shell with the back of the fork to form ridges in the dough.
- Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until crust is light brown and shows fine cracks.
- Meanwhile, as crust is baking, in a bowl, mix sugar with powdered almonds. Add butter and blend thoroughly, then add egg and kirsch.
- Take crust from the oven when it is ready and fill with almond paste. Lower oven temperature to 350 F and bake 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Wash strawberries, remove stems, and slice thinly. Arrange on the top of the tarte in a spiral patter and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.