I ate a tarte aux fraise for breakfast, and I regret absolutely nothing about it. It's cool; people do it all the time in France. It's right up there with soft cheese and revolution.
I realise it probably isn't strawberry season where you are, but in Japan, they're at their best right now - for whatever reason (perhaps they're imported from Australia?) strawberries are a winter fruit here. They'll probably start to phase out around March... but it could be worse; I haven't seen a real life raspberry in the nineteen months I've lived here. Sometimes I forget raspberries are a thing. Japan doesn't even have raspberry jam, and although it tries to compensate with earl grey & honey dulce de leche, white peach and oolong tea jam, and vanilla bean & maple marron spread... actually, now I've remembered that spread, I can't hold a grudge.
Anyway, I'm channeling Europe today. A non-fussy pâte sucrée - crumbly shortbread-like pastry - with a vegan vanilla crème pâtissière - oui, no eggs! - fresh strawberries - red as the blood of angry men - and a sticky-sweet balsamic glaze. Yeah: French patisserie can be vegan. Vive la différence.
Tarte aux Fraise with Balsamic Glaze
Pastry Cream recipe converted & adapted from the Vegan Chef by Beverly Lynn Bennett
for the pastry:
210g (1 1/2c.) plain flour
60g (1/2c.) icing sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
115g (1 stick) vegan butter
Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Add in the margarine and pulse until coarsely cut in. Drizzle in a little ice-cold water and process in long pulses until the dough starts to form clumps. The sound of the machine working the dough will change around here as the dough forms a solid lump: turn it out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, before rolling out and pressing into a 8" tart case or 6 individual tart cases. Seal any cracks, and reinforce the sides with any overhang, then pierce all over with a fork. Freeze it for half an hour at this point to prevent shrinkage.
To bake: press parchment paper or aluminium foil tightly over the crust and bake at 180C for around 20-25 minutes. As you froze the crust, you don't need to weight it down. Go you. Leave to cool completely.
for the pastry cream:
70g (1/2c.) plain flour
480ml (2c.) soy milk
70g (1/3c.) sugar
1 pinch salt
60ml (1/4c.) lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean
In a small bowl, place the flour and whisk in 1/2c. soy milk, and set aside.In a small saucepan, place the remaining soy milk, sugar, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and whisk well to combine.Cook the mixture over medium heat, while whisking constantly, for 5-6 minutes or until thickened. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk well to combine, and cook the mixture an additional 1 minute Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a glass bowl.Place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming on the top Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator for several hours to cool completely.for the topping:hella load of strawberries, man60ml (1/4c.) balsamic vinegar50g (1/4c.) white sugarFill the cooled pastry case with pastry cream and smooth over. Top with halved strawberries. I used four strawberries per tartlet, as a guideline, but if you're making a full-sized tart, you gonna have to figure it out.For the glaze, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally and keeping an eye on it. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until it has reduced and is around the consistency of runny honey. Turn off the heat and give it a moment to cool. then drizzle over the tarts in a spiral. Now, go right ahead and eat it.