Fresh Strawberry & Vanilla Tart-Cake
Buttery shortcrust pastry, filled with sweet strawberry preserve, and a rich, moist and fluffy vanilla sponge studded with juicy fresh summer strawberries! This has quickly become one of my favourite bakes!
It's not hard to see where the inspiration for this dessert came from - the famous Bakewell Tart, of course! One of my favourite baked treats! This has very much the same concept, but with a few twists...
This buttery tart crust is filled with a rich, moist, and very vanilla-ry sponge instead of the traditional frangipane used in a Bakewell, which consists of ground almonds or hazelnuts. The other twist here is the use of fresh strawberries studded in the sponge, which not only looks SO pretty, but also tastes amazing with the vanilla flavour! Whilst a strawberry frangipane tart would no doubt be equally as tasty in it's own way - I wanted to create something different that would be an all around crowd pleaser! There are too many fussy's in my family and social circles who are not keen on Bakewell tarts, or are allergic to nuts.
And this dessert is certainly a crowd-pleaser!! I've now made this several times, and it never lasts more than a couple of days in my house-hold of two (my poor jiggly hips *sob*). I've now had to start boxing sections up to deliver to my family to stop us from devouring it all, and have had rave reviews from all who have tried it. So it's a definite winner recipe!
This recipe takes you through the whole process, completely from scratch, however, if you simply cannot be bothered with the pastry work (which is actually very straight forward and super quick and easy to prepare) you can of course use ready-made sweet shortcrust. Although, I must say, it's so rewarding when you know you have made this beautiful treat completely from scratch, and of course it will also undoubtedly taste better with that little extra love!
The below is a VERY detailed method with some tips and photos. For a simplified, printable recipe CLICK HERE!
The pastry shell takes just 5 minutes to whip together but does require some chilling time for best results. The dough is lightly sweetened with a tablespoon of icing sugar - much more than this and the dessert can become too sweet what with the sweetness of the sponge, the jam and the strawberries.The crust is blind baked before adding the sponge batter.
125g Chilled butter cut into cubes
200g All purpose flour
1 Tbsp icing sugar
1 Egg yolk
2 Tsp cold water
1. To make the dough, we first whisk together the flour and icing sugar. Add the cubed, chilled butter (cold butter is important here to get the correct texture, and be sure to use real butter and not margarine!) and use a pastry cutter to blend the flour mixture and butter until you have a breadcrumb like texture, making sure all of the larger lumps are disperse and worked into the dry ingredients. Alternatively, use your fingers to lightly rub the mixture together.
2. Add the egg yolk and 2 tsp of cold water (again, be sure to use cold water) and mix with a spoon until a rough dough forms. Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and kneed gently and very briefly to combine the mixture until smooth. Do not over work the dough or you will be left with a very tough pastry!
3. Mould into a smooth ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap tightly in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.
4. Take the dough from the fridge and allow to sit out on the counter for a couple of minutes to thaw slightly which will make rolling easier. Roll on a 'barely-there' floured surface, into an 11inch circle, turning the dough with every couples of rolls to help avoid sticking. If the pastry begins to get too sticky, do not be tempted to add more flour as this will affect the texture f the pastry - simply return to the fridge for 5 minutes or so so allow butter to firm up again.
5. Lift the dough using a rolling pin and lay over a 23cm (9") tart pan, no need for greasing, and gently press the dough to the edges, trying to keep an even thickness. I like to let the extra dough over-hang on the edges and trim after baking, so that if the dough shrinks slightly when in the oven, it won't effect the look of the finished crust!. Wrap loosely in cling-film and chill for a further 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C or 160C (fan).
6. Remove pan from the fridge and cover with baking parchment or aluminium foil, pressed tightly to the inside of the pan, and cover with pie weights, baking beans or dry rice to weigh the crust down and prevent it expanding during baking. You can alternatively use a fork to prick holes in the base to allow steam to escape whilst baking and not puff up the pastry base. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove baking beans and parchment, and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes and use a serrated knife to trim the overhanging pastry. Allow to cool to room temperature.
72g softened butter
250g caster sugar
1 medium egg (classified as large in US)
1 medium egg yolk (classified as large in US)
11g Flavourless oil
2 tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
120ml room temperature milk (semi skimmed or whole)
255g self raising flour
With an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream softened butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for roughly 2 minutes on high speed. The texture will be sand-like due to the high ratio of sugar to butter. This is normal!
Add the whole egg and beat on a low speed until just combined, followed by adding the yolk and beat again until incorporated
Add oil, sour cream and vanilla and beat on low until combined
Add 1/2 of the flour and beat on low until almost combined, but not fully allowing for some steaks of flour, and mix in 1/2 of the milk. Beat in a further 1/4 of the flour, followed by the remaining milk and finishing on the last 1/4 of flour. On the last addition on flour, use a rubber spatula to gently fold in, rather than the mixer, to ensure all is incorporated as gently as possible. and avoid over mixing. The batter will be thick.
Assembly & Baking
6 heaped tsp strawberry or raspberry jam
Approximately 150g of hulled strawberries cut into halves or quarters
1tsp caster sugar
1. Spread approximately 6 heaped tsp of strawberry or raspberry jam across the cooled base of the tart. Spoon in the batter and fill until just below the line of the tart shell. Do not be tempted to fill beyond that point or you will have an over-running mess! Dependent on how deep your tart pan is, you may have some left over batter - I like to fill a couple of cup cake or mini loaf liners and push in some fresh strawberries or blueberries as an extra treat - no wastage here!!!
2. Place strawberries decoratively and gently on top of the batter. I like to put the larger ones on the outside and get smaller as I work my way to the middle. If you have very large strawberries it can be best to quarter them - the heavier the strawberries, the more likely they will sink during baking. As the middle takes longer to cook, you will likely have a few strawberries disappear in that area during baking - using the smaller strawberries here helps avoid that!
3. Sprinkle a tsp of caster sugar over the top of the batter - this will form a lovely sweet and caramelised crust and also help the top of the batter firm up to stop all of the strawberries sinking!
4. Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes at 165C (fan) or 185C (conventional) in the middle rack of the oven. Every oven is different in terms of how it heats and it's temperature flow, so be sure to keep an eye at regular intervals to make sure top isn't burning. Don't be shy about testing the cake regularly towards the end of the baking time (I usually start testing at 45 minutes or when the middle looks set). When the middle of the cake is springy to the touch and a skewer, when inserted, is removed clean with a just a couple of crumbs (avoid skewering where the strawberries are as it will be moister there!) remove from the oven and leave to cool. I have a removable-base tart pan so I like to push the tart out from the sides on the pan to cool.
5. Once cooled to room temperature decorate with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, a vanilla glaze or lemon glaze (this is my favourite option!), or simply brush some melted strawberry jam over the top with a pastry brush for a glossy, sticky effect! Top with some fresh strawberries for decoration and take a ton of photos of your beautiful Fresh Strawberry Tart-Cake :)