Almond and Strawberry Tart
This is a simple almond and strawberry tart – nothing out of the ordinary – but when the ingredients are impeccable and you get the almond base sticky and rich-tasting the way fresh almonds do (as though soaked in amaretto) and then top with giant ripe and juicy strawberries and a sprinkling with icing sugar, then it suddenly becomes something a lot less ordinary. It’s now a firm Ducksoup summer favourite and will go down so well if you’re feeding a few.
|For the pastry:|
|300g||plain flour, plus extra for dusting|
|150g||unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small dice, plus extra for greasing|
|For the filling:|
|250g||butter, at room temperature|
|1–2 tbsp||good-quality strawberry jam|
|A large punnet||strawberries|
|A handful||toasted flaked almonds|
|Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)|
You will need: a food processor or freestanding mixer, a 30cm loose-bottomed tart tin, and a rolling pin.
First make the pastry. Put the flour and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is incorporated (you can also do this by hand using a large bowl and a round-bladed knife). Don’t overwork the pastry otherwise it will shrink when you bake it; it’s fine to leave a few lumps of butter here and there as it will make for a better pastry.
Finally add the egg to bring everything together. If the mixture is still a little dry add a splash of ice-cold water.
Shape the pastry into a disc about 3cm thick (this will make it easier to roll out). Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
To make the filling, first cream together the butter and sugar in a food processor or freestanding mixer, until the butter and sugar are combined and the mixture is pale and fluffy. You can do this by hand too but it will take a little longer. Keep mixing on a low-medium speed and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. If you are mixing by hand, beat the eggs into the butter quickly so that the mixture doesn’t curdle.
Once all your eggs are combined add the flour and ground almonds and mix well. Place the mixture in the fridge to chill while you roll out the pastry.
Lightly grease a 30cm loose-bottomed tart tin with a nugget of soft butter and a dusting of flour; this will prevent the tart from sticking.
Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and start to roll the pastry away from you. Turn it by 45 degrees and roll away from you again. Continue in this way until the pastry is about 5mm thick and about 8cm larger in diameter than your tart tin.
Roll the pastry on to your rolling pin, lift it up and then carefully drape it over the tart tin. Using your fingers, gently ease the pastry into the corners of the case and the sides ready for the filling. Chill the pastry-lined tin in the fridge for 25 minutes – the colder the butter in the pastry, the less likely it is to melt, causing the pastry to crack. You can speed this process up by putting it in the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
When you are ready to bake the tart, remove the filling and the pastry-lined tin from the fridge and line the pastry with parchment paper. Fill with baking beans and blind bake for 20 minutes, or until the sides start to turn golden. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to cook the base. If any cracks form in the pastry beat an egg and simply brush over the pastry base before returning it to the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove the baked pastry case from the oven and reduce the temperature to 160°C/gas 3. Spread a layer of strawberry jam over the base, followed by the almond filling, spreading it out to fill the case. Return to the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the top is golden and it doesn’t wobble if you give it a little shake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the case.
To finish, scatter the whole strawberries over the top of the tart (cut any large strawberries in half). Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and finally dust with a little icing sugar.