Strawberry Tart (1964)



Life has been a little hectic on our blustery hilltop of late, which explains for the recent paucity of posts. My apologies for that, and I’ll try to do better.

Now that the apologies are out of the way, might I tempt you with some fragrant strawberries? I know they’re not in season right now and the department-store variety can be imperfect but my husband recently came across a recipe for a strawberry tart in one of our favourite vintage cookery books and couldn’t help making it for dessert a few days ago. Having been educated in France and Switzerland he has a weakness for Gallic culinary delights and often turns to La Cuisine de France by Mapie, Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion Press, 1964). I think it’s likely his favourite cookery book. The dessert section is quite tempting, filled with all manner of delicious possibilities. Strawberry Meringue Tart, or Tarte aux fraises meringuées, is very easy to make, and it includes a step—the arrangement of the strawberries—with which our daughter, Catherine, could help. She’s pretty good in the kitchen, though she claims she most enjoys washing dishes. The tart was incredibly good, and the next morning, I even had a slice with breakfast.

TARTE AUX FRAISES MERINGUEES

SOURCE: La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1964)

SERVES 8

STEP ONE: TART PASTRY

INGREDIENTS

2 cups sifted flour

1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour

2-1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

9 tablespoons butter, slightly softened

DIRECTIONS

Heap the well-mixed flours on a working surface and fashion a well in the center. Into the well put the sugar, salt, egg, and slightly softened butter cut in small pieces. With your fingers gradually work the flour toward the center and add just enough water, teaspoon by teaspoon, until you have a very smooth and shiny ball of pastry. The pastry has to be kneaded slightly, but do it no longer than necessary. Let this pastry rest for several hours before using.

STEP TWO: THE FILLING

1-1/2 pints strawberries

2 egg whites

4 tablespoons sugar

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out the pastry and line a [well-]buttered tart tin with it. Prick well with a fork and bake 10 minutes. [After removing from the oven, reduce heat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.]

Arrange the strawberries, pointed side up, in the tart. Beat the egg whites stiff and fold in the sugar. Spread the meringue over the berries [evenly] and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

8 comments on “Strawberry Tart (1964)

  1. Brilliant recipe…. the strawberry farmers in California are struggling.. the more we eat the better for them… Can’t wait to make this for company!!

  2. Chris says:

    I am not a big fan of cooked strawberries-I think just fresh is best, but blackberries leave me weak with desire. They would work just as well. Can I get your dish loving daughter to talk to mine, who is adept at avoiding this chore?

    • The cooking doesn’t really do anything awful, Chris. It honestly just warms up the strawberries and intensifies the flavour. I asked my daughter if she would like to be a dish-washing coach, and she looked at me with a very quizzical glance.

  3. Charlotte K says:

    That looks so very simple, brilliant! Can’t wait to make this. I think various berries would work well.

  4. Stan says:

    The usual practice in making tarts is that the initial ten minute baking is a “blind bake,” meaning that foil is pressed onto the pastry and then covered with beans, birdshot or some such to prevent the pastry from puffing up. Did this pastry not require it?

    Also, thank you for the clarification on the seed cake recipe. BTW, I tracked down a “recipe” for making genuine caraway comfits. Frankly, it would be less trouble to build a battleship in your backyard.

    • Stan, the recipe didn’t ask for any blind-baking. I’m sure if you wanted to, it would be fine. We didn’t blind-bake and the pastry shell turned out okay just having been well pricked with a fork beforehand. Would you send me the recipe for the caraway confits? (Send to anaestheteslament@gmail.com.) I would love to see how awful it is!

  5. Thanks for the lovely suggestion.
    I know what I will be baking for my next dinner party!

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