Thursday, 3 February 2011

Strawberry tarts 'Skikda' style

When it comes to sweet things, I am more into tarts than cakes, and my favourite one is strawberry tart. No surprise if you know that I grew up in Skikda (north east of Algeria), a city famous for the production of one of the best strawberries in the world; ‘la fraise de Skikda’, also known as the Russicade (Roman name of the city).
This variety was introduced in the 1920’s by an Italian ‘colon’ in the 1920’s. The actual Russicade is the result of several mutations and also of the way the first plant adapted to the climate of Skikda.
The Russicade is distinguished by a small size (which makes it very fragile), a very strong fragrance, the abundance of its juice and the absence of any acidity, neutralised by very high sugar levels
The Russicade is celebrated in Skikda by a 3-day festival at the end of May every year. The program include
·         Best strawberry cake
·         Best bakery window display
·         Best jam
·         Sports competitions
·         Musical evenings
·         And even a Beauty competition ‘Miss Farawla’ (sorry but I am not fun of this kind of competitions)

Here is a link for more pictures of the festival

In this recipe, I included two kinds of creams for the filling
1.      Light version: Milky cream
2.      Rich version: Pastry cream also known as crème patissière

I used the first one in my recipe because I just felt like it that day, Anyway you can also use cream or crème fraîche if you feel like it as well…..

For the sweet pastry – pâte sable

250g plain flour
125g caster sugar
125g butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten

For the filling

1 kg strawberries
3 tbsp strawberry jam mixed with some water for a runny consistency

Filling1: Milky cream
2 cups Milk
1/4 cup Cornflour
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Filling1: Pastry cream
2 cups Milk
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp Cornflour
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence


1.      Place the flour and sugar in a food processor and whizz for thirty seconds. Turn the processor back on and add the chilled butter and finally the egg. If the pastry needs a little more liquid add a spot of water until the dough rolls cleanly round the bowl.
2.      Wrap your pastry in Clingfilm and chill for half an hour whilst you prepare the tartlet tins and strawberries.
3.      Roll out and use to line the tins. Prick the bases and bake blind for 10 to 15 minutes.
4.      Mix together the sugar, cornflour and vanilla essence (add the egg yolks if you are making filling2) with some of the milk. Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan just to boiling point, cool slightly, then whisk into the previous mixture, return to the pan and slowly bring to the boil. Cover the surface of the mixture with dampened paper to cool
5.      Fill the tartlets with the cold cream and fruits. Glaze with runny strawberry jam


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