Strawberries appear in Provence after Easter. And this year, spring having been wet, they are not as fragrant as they might be. Perfect candidates for this tart where the glaze brings out all the latent flavour of the fruit.
The three parts, the pastry, the glaze, and the strawberries may each be prepared beforehand. The glaze (made according to the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1, by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child) is arguably the fiddliest bit, but it truly enhances the strawberry flavour, and can be made in quantity, stored in a jar, and re-heated when needed.
The fat for the pastry can be vegetable fat or lard. The latter is no longer so disapproved of by nutritionists.
- unsweetened shortcrust pastry dough (see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley – the Book for an easy and reliable method, if you don’t already have your own), using 50–60 g fat for 180 g flour
- fat to grease the tart tin
- 500 g fresh strawberries
- 175 ml apricot jam or red-currant jelly, for the glaze
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C.
Roll out the pastry, line a greased tart tin (22 cm), and bake the pastry blind (i.e., the pastry base pricked with a fork, and the whole tart mould covered with greaseproof paper weighted down with dried haricot or ceramic beans) for 7 min.
Remove the beans and greaseproof paper, prick the pastry base again, and return it to the oven for a further 7–10 min for a fully baked shell. Set it aside to cool, but keep the oven on.
While the pastry is baking, hull the strawberries, leaving them whole.
To make the glaze, first strain the apricot jam, if used, through a sieve to remove skins (if the jam is very stiff and dense, soften it over a gentle heat first). Then heat the strained jam or the red-currant jelly with the granulated sugar, in a small saucepan, over a medium heat, stirring continuously, with a wooden spoon, for 2–3 min. The glaze is ready when it coats the spoon with a thin film and drips off stickily. Don’t overheat it or it will become brittle on cooling.
Arrange the whole strawberries in circles, stem-end downwards, on the tart base. Pour over the warm glaze and return to the oven for 5 min. Serve warm or cold.