Tarte Aux Fraises – a classic French Strawberry Tart filled with silky smooth crème pâtissière, topped with juicy fresh strawberries under a strawberry glaze. It’s the perfect summer dessert !
I love recreating the strawberry custard tarts found in our local patisserie in Brittany. My take on the recipe is surprisingly easy to make and remains our favourite summer dessert.
Firstly, I make the pâte sucrée or sweet shortcrust pastry. Using my go to French pastry recipe, this is so much easier to make than a regular shortcrust pastry.
Butter and sugar are creamed together instead of rubbing butter into flour. So there’s no worrying about cold butter and cold hands to prevent the butter warming up.
An egg is added along with flour and quickly brought together. The result is a sweet, crisp and rich buttery pastry that melts in your mouth.
Next I make the vanilla pastry cream filling which comes together in less than 10 minutes.
Both the pastry case and the crème pâtissière can be made the day before.
Once you have your tart case and custard the rest is even easier. Simply fill the pastry case with creamy vanilla custard, top with ripe strawberries and brush with a homemade strawberry glaze.
Alternatively, the availability of good quality ready made tart cases and custards makes the recipe even easier.
And if you don’t fancy making a strawberry glaze to top off your tarts simply dredge with icing sugar instead.
All in all, home made strawberry tarts worthy of a bakery really can be as easy as pie.
I also like to make individual strawberry tartlets as there’s something I find so deliciously cute about them. So, I’ve included instructions and timings for both a large strawberry tart and small tartlets. I’ve done the same with my Tarte Au Citron recipe and it’s proved to be quite popular.
What equipment do I need ?
- I use my KitchenAid to cream the butter and sugar together for the pastry. You could just as easily use a wooden spoon or spatula if mixing by hand.
- Baking beans / pie weights to weigh down the pastry on its first bake. You can also use rice, dried peas, dried beans or lentils.
- 25 cm / 10 inch fluted, loose bottomed tart tin or 8 x 9cm / 3 ½ inch individual tart tins. A removable base is important as you want to be able to get your tart out in one piece.
- Silicone pastry brush – a pastry brush enables you to get an even finish with the glaze.
What ingredients do I need ?
Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients
- Butter – unsalted butter at room temperature. This is because the butter will be creamed instead of rubbed into the flour.
- Icing sugar / confectioner’s sugar – icing sugar works best because it dissolves into the pastry easily.
- A large egg – I’ve used the whole egg.
- Ground almonds / almond meal – this adds a lovely nutty flavour to the pastry. If you prefer you can substitute with plain flour
- Plain flour / all purpose flour
Crème Pâtissière / Pastry Cream Ingredients
- Egg yolks – I use 3 large egg yolks. They add richness and help thicken the pastry cream. I freeze the egg whites for later to use in my tuile biscuits.
- Caster sugar – I only use 6 tablespoons so the finished crème pâtissière isn’t overly sweet. There is plenty of sweetness in the strawberries and pastry.
- Cornflour / cornstarch – thickens the crème pâtissière and also prevents the custard from curdling.
- Vanilla extract – make sure you use a good quality vanilla – I use my homemade vanilla extract
- Milk – full cream milk is best.
- Icing sugar / confectioner’s sugar – this is sprinkled on the finished custard to prevent a skin forming on the top.
- Strawberries – it’s best to use strawberries in season. You can’t beat the taste of sun ripened strawberries in early summer. However, there are plenty of later varieties these days so the strawberry season lasts well into the height of summer. Prepare your strawberries by cleaning, hulling and slicing. I find sliced strawberries deliver a tastier eating experience as well as adding a stunning finish to your dessert. Plus, you’re bound to get a piece of strawberry with each bite.
- Strawberry jelly or warmed and sieved strawberry jam. Alternatively, 2 to 3 tablespoons of icing sugar for dredging.
How to make Tarte aux Fraises / French Strawberry Tart
Make the Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Case
Pâte sucrée is easier to make, easier to work with and is much more forgiving than a rich shortcrust pasty. It does have a tendency to tear but it’s just as easily patched up.
In fact, you don’t even have to roll it out if you don’t want too. Small pieces of the soft pastry can be pressed together into your tart tin with no worries of leaky tarts.
- In a stand mixer, use a paddle attachment at medium speed to cream the softened butter, salt and icing sugar. This should take about 2 minutes to give a creamy (not light and fluffy) mixture.
- Add the egg with half of the flour and mix on a slow speed until the flour is incorporated.
- Remove the bowl from the machine and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Bring the dough together and mix by hand – it’s important not to overwork the dough.
- Cover with cling film or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can leave it in the fridge for up to a couple of hours.
- Grease your tin (or individual tart tins) ready for the pastry.
- Roll the pastry between two baking parchment papers. This will prevent it from sticking to everything. Make sure the pastry circle is large enough for the diameter of your flan tin plus twice the tin’s depth. The pastry should be about the thickness of a £1 coin (3 mm / ⅛ inch)
- Line your pastry case (or cases) with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.
- Carefully line your tin with pastry, gently pressing the pastry into the “corners”, sides and edges. Try not to stretch the pastry and patch any cracks you might make.
- Trim off any excess pastry, leaving the sides slightly higher than the tin in case of shrinkage.
- Prick the bottom of the case with a fork and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Line your pastry case with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the parchment and beans and bake again for 10 minutes.
Make the Crème Pâtissière / Pastry Cream
- Heat the milk and bring almost to the boil before setting to one side.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar until light in colour and then stir in the cornflour.
- Pour about 100 ml of hot milk onto the egg mix, whisking all the time. Add the rest of the milk in a couple of stages.
- Transfer your custard to your milk pan and continue whisking over low to medium heat until it comes up to a gentle boil. Your custard will boil at around 90℃ / 194°F and can be checked with a food thermometer. I use my Thermapen for a quick instant reading.
- Continue whisking for a couple of minutes whilst it cooks.
- Add the vanilla extract.
- The cooked pastry cream needs to cool down completely before using. Pour the pastry cream into a large shallow dish so the custard cools down quickly.
- Dredge with icing sugar to prevent a skin forming.
- Once cooled, pop your dish of pastry cream into the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It will keep for up to 3 days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
Crème Pâtissière / Pastry Cream Tip
Unlike other custards, pastry cream needs to come to the boil and be cooked through. If not thoroughly cooked for enough time the starches will not gelatanise properly. Also, any amylase in the egg yolks might not be inactivated. If not inactivated, the amylase will break down the starches and you can end up with a watery pastry cream.
Making sure the custard is nice and thick and gently bubbles whilst it’s cooking solves this problem.
Assemble the Tarte Aux Fraise
- Spoon the crème pâtissière / pastry cream into the baked pastry case and smooth into a nice thick layer.
- Arrange the strawberries in concentric circles on top of the pastry cream, starting from the outer edge of the pastry shell.
- Brush with warmed strawberry glaze or redcurrant jelly.
- Chill before serving.
How to make Individual Strawberry Tartlets
- Line eight 9 cm / 3 ½ inch individual tart tins with pastry.
- Prick the bottom of the cases with a fork and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Line with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the parchment and beans and bake again for 6 minutes.
- Once cooled, fill each tart case with a layer of pastry cream.
- Arrange the strawberries on top and glaze.
How to serve Strawberry Tart
Keep your Strawberry Tart in the fridge until serving and cut into slices using a large sharp knife. Serve straightaway.
French Strawberry Tart is the perfect summer dessert and is delicious just as it is.
How to store
French Strawberry Tart is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze French Strawberry Tart ?
The custard and the strawberries prevents Strawberry Tart from being suitable for freezing. However, if you want to get ahead, the raw pastry or tart shell does freeze well. Store the pastry double wrapped in cling film or the tart shell in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
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Strawberry Tart | Tarte aux Fraises
- 1 stand mixer – I used a KitchenAid or a large bowl and wooden spoon if mixing by hand
- 1 medium heavy based saucepan
- 1 large Pyrex mixing bowl
- 1 whisk
- 1 set of baking beans / pie weights or rice, dried peas, lentils, beans
- 1 sheet baking parchment
- 1 25 cm / 10 inch fluted, loose bottomed tart tin or 8 x 9cm / 3 ½ inch individual tart tins
- 1 silicone pastry brush
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons cornflour / cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 350 ml milk
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
Pâte Sucrée | Sweet Shortcrust pastry
- 125 g softened butter cut into small cubes
- ½ tsp salt
- 50 g icing sugar 4 tablespoons
- 1 large egg
- 50 g ground almonds / almond meal
- 200 g plain flour / all purpose flour
- 300 g strawberries hulled and sliced
- 4 tablespoons strawberry jelly or warmed and sieved strawberry jam. or 2 to 3 tablespoons of icing sugar for dredging.
Make your pastry:
- In a stand mixer, use a paddle attachment at medium speed to cream the softened butter, salt and icing sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy – this should take about 2 minutes.
- Add egg and half of the flour. Mix on a slow speed until the flour is incorporated.
- Remove the bowl from the machine before adding the ground almonds and the remainder of the flour.
- Bring the pastry together and mix by hand but avoid overworking it.
- Wrap your pastry with cling film / plastic wrap before refrigerating it for between 30 minutes and a couple of hours.
- Grease 1 x 25cm (10 inch) loose bottomed flan tin or 8 x 9cm (3 ½ inch) individual tart tins.
- Roll out your pastry between two sheets of baking parchment to prevent it from sticking to everything.
- Make sure the pastry circle is appropriately sized for your flan tin. The circle needs to be a touch larger than the diameter of your flan tin plus twice the tin depth. Ideally, the pastry thickness should be about that of a £1 coin (3 mm / ⅛ inch.)
- Carefully line your flan tin with pastry. Gently press the pastry so it lays flat on the bottom of the tin and then follows the shaped side. Try not to stretch the malleable pastry, patching any cracks that might appear.
- Trim off excess pastry but leave the sides slightly higher than the flan tin in case of shrinkage.
- Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork before popping in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Line your pastry case (or cases) with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.
Make your creme patissiere:
- Heat the milk in a saucepan, bringing it almost to the boil before setting aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until light in colour before stirring in the cornflour.
- Pour about 100 ml of hot milk onto the egg mix, whisking all the time. Keep whisking as you add the rest of the milk in a couple of stages.
- Transfer the mixing bowl contents to the saucepan used for heating the milk. Continue whisking over a low to medium heat whilst your pastry cream cooks. Unlike other custards, pastry cream needs to come to the boil and be cooked through. Your custard will boil at around 90℃ / 194°F.
- Once cooked, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Transfer to a shallow dish and dredge with icing sugar to prevent a skin forming.
- Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge as soon as the custard is cool enough.
- Leave in the fridge until required.
Bake your pastry case:
- Preheat oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas Mark 6
- Large tart – 25 minutes
- Individual strawberry tarts – 15 minutes
- Remove from the oven and carefully remove baking parchment and beans.
- Pop pastry case back in the oven for 10 minutes (large tart) or 6 to 8 minutes (individual tarts) to crisp up the bottom.
- Leave to cool.
- Store in an airtight container until required.
- Heat the strawberry jelly or sieved jam and set to one side.
- Give the creme patissiere a good whisk before spooning it into the baked pastry case and then smoothing the surface.
- Arrange the strawberry slices in circles on top of the creme patissiere. Start from the outside edge and work into the centre.
- Glaze the strawberries by brushing over with the previously heated strawberry jelly / sieved jam. If you prefer, dredge with the icing sugar instead of the glaze.
- Chill for at least an hour before slicing and serving.
The pastry dough can be stored wrapped in cling film or plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using. Crème Pâtissière Unlike other custards, pastry cream needs to come to the boil and be cooked through. If it’s not thoroughly cooked for the proper amount of time the starches won’t gelatanise properly. Also, any amylase in the egg yolks won’t be inactivated and they will then react with the starches. This means you are likely to end up with a watery pastry cream.
Pastry cream will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated in an airtight container. Can I freeze French Strawberry Tart ? The custard and the strawberries prevent Strawberry Tart from being suitable for freezing. However, if you want to get ahead, the raw pastry or tart shell does freeze well. Store the pastry double wrapped in cling film or the tart shell in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Optional Quick & Easy Version: Buy a ready made pastry case, a pot of ready made custard, a pack of strawberries and simply assemble. Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
I’m entering Strawberry Tart | Tarte aux Fraises into:
- Perfecting Patisserie ( co-hosted by Lucy at Baking Queen 74 & Kevin from The Crafty Larder ) this month over at Baking Queen 74
- The Pastry Challenge created by Jen at Jen’s Food & Lisa at United Cakedom, hosted this month by Jen over at Jen’s Food.
- Treat Petite created by Stuart at CakeyBoi & Kat at The Baking Explorer, the host for June is Stuart over at CakeyBoi .
- Charlotte’s Food Year Link Up over at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.
- Ren’s Simple & In Season challenge over at Ren Behan.
Monday 19th of June 2017
Wow - this is so beautiful! What a great way to use summer's strawberry bounty! I love it!
Sunday 16th of July 2017
Thanks Nicole, I love the summer fruit and strawberries make the best summer tart.
Saturday 17th of June 2017
Oh man this sounds amazing, and I am so feeling the custard on the bottom with the berries on top! The pictures really do it justice, I am craving this now.
Friday 16th of June 2017
Strawberries are in season and this is exactly what I plan on doing with them. Thanks for sharing!
Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
Thursday 15th of June 2017
I can't wait for fresh berry season. It has been a cold and rainy season, so who knows when they will be ready. Once they are....I need to give this delicious dessert a try.
Wednesday 14th of June 2017
I am such a strawberry fan. When I was a little girl my grandmother once bought me an entire flat for myself to see if I would finally tire of them. I did not! And these are such a pretty, simple, elegant dessert!