Last week while I was shooting for an upcoming book, had this urge to spend my day off baking and shooting for myself. It’s been a very busy year for me and I realised just how much time I haven’t working on my blog! With a surplus of strawberries left over from one of the shoots, (because everyone thought they were bringing the strawberries), I decided to spend my day off trying my hand at a pastry and creating some sort of strawberry filling.
I got out my Michel Roux Pastry book and to my delight I made the perfect pastry casing! It was a nice way to spend my Saturday afternoon and my only real day off in quite some time.
From there, I became immersed in creating something for myself. I felt a bit rusty on the styling, but as you push on through the shoot and just being ok with what’s not working – things just start coming together. I was hoping for a wintery, yet delightful feeling for these images, the kind of light that you keeping moving around your living room just to be with it. As I write this now, the winter light is streaming through the windows and it’s just so perfect. The colour of the background is just like a winter sky when the sun disappears and the deep strawberry colours and shadows remind me that cloudy skies can be just as beautiful as blue bird skies.
People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy ~ Anton Chekhov
Roasted Strawberry & Thyme Tart
Tart Base *Michel Roux recipe
250g Plain Flour
125g butter, chopped and slightly softened
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
40ml cold water
500g fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme + extra for garnish
250g fresh strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
On a clean and dry work surface, (preferably a marble surface if you have one), heap the flour and make a well with your hands. Place the chopped butter, egg, sugar and salt into the well. With clean hands, gently mix the ingredients together, creaming the butter as you go.
Once combined, gently little by little draw in the flour to incorporate with the wet mixture and work the dough with your finger tips until a grainy texture forms. Add the cold water, little by little until the dough begins to hold together. (Adding the water little by little will ensure that the dough doesn’t become too wet. If it does, add a little more flour).
Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you a couple of time until it is smooth. Make the pastry into a disk, wrap in plastic and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 mins.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a round, 3mm thick, 30cm in diameter. In a 24cm diameter, 3mm deep loose bottomed tart tin, place the pastry carefully into the tin and press it into the sides gently with your fingers. Trim the excess.Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Thinly slice the strawberries lengthways and place in a bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the cornflour and brown sugar until combined.
After resting the pastry in the tart tin in the fridge for 20 minutes, remove and prick the base. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes, until blonde and light in colour, but not too golden. (Ensure you use baking paper and some sort of pastry weights so that the pastry doesn’t rise unevenly. I use dried kidney beans!)
Remove from the oven and sprinkle over half of the flour/sugar mixture and all of the thyme. Place the strawberries into the tart tin in an over-lapping fashion. Sprinkle the remaining half of the flour/sugar mixture over the strawberries. Bake in the oven for 15 mins, or until the pastry is lightly golden and crisp.
Allow to cool.
In a small saucepan, add the chopped strawberries and maple syrup and bring to a slight boil stirring constantly.Water will start to be released from the strawberries, add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until it thickens. (Depending on how ripe the strawberries are, will depend on how much sugar you use. You may only use 2 tablespoons, or you may use 4). Once the syrup has thickened to your liking, blend the mixture using an immersion blender until the resembles a smooth syrup.
Pour over the strawberries in the tart case, until it just covers the strawberries evenly. Allow to cool slightly.
Serve with some fresh thyme.