Monday, 7 December 2009

Strawberry Lavender Tart

This is a pretty labour intensive recipe, but the results are both visually and tastily satisfying. I especially enjoyed the pastry crust, which turned out crispy and flakey. You will have a lot of left over lavender syrup, which goes great in homemade rosemary lemonade or iced tea. This recipe comes from Spice by Ana Sortun, head chef at Oleana in Boston. This was the climactic denouement to Saturday night dinner.


170g unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream


1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons dried lavender
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
5 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, dried and halved

Lavender Syrup

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried lavender
2 cups water
3/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/4 lemon)

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons lavender syrup

To make Crust:

Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and freeze them for 20-30 minutes

Combine flour, salt, butter and sugar in the work bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment mix on low speed, until the butter is the size of small peas.
Pour in cream and continue to mix on low speed until the dough appears moist but still loose and crumbly.
Put dough mixture on lightly floured work surface and work it together with hands to form a smooth ball. Don't work it any further than this, or the gluten will develop and it will become tough. You should be able to see little pieces of butter in the dough.

Press the dough into a flat disc and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

After the dough has chilled, let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Then on a sheet of parchment paper that has been lightly floured, begin rolling the disc and turning as you roll to prevent sticking and to achieve a circular shape. Roll the dough out to a 1/2 inch thick circle that is 2 to 3 inches larger in diameter than your tart pan.
Lightly butter a tart pan. Lift parchment paper and flip over onto the tart pan. Ease the dough into the pan, pressing it down to seal it into the bottom edge and against the sides. Trim the dough evenly with the top of the tart pan edges by rolling the pin over the top. Place tart uncovered in the freezer to rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Completely line bottom and sides of the tart shell with parchment paper or foil. Fill the lining up to the rim with dried beans or rice. Make sure they cover the entire tart pan from edge to edge. The weight will keep the pastry intact as it bakes and stop it from rising.
Bake the tart shell for 30 minutes. Remove pie weights and cook for 5 minutes longer or until crust on the bottom is no longer moist. Let the tart cool for at least 20 minutes.

To make Filling:
Heat cream with lavender over medium heat until just boiling. Remove from the heat. Cover the pan and let the lavender steep and infuse with the cream for at least 1 hour at room temperature.

Strain lavender cream through a fine sieve into a large mixing bowl. Discard herbs.
Whisk the sugar and flour into the cream, being sure to whisk away any lumps.
Add berries and stir to coat all the berries with cream mixture. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to absorb as much cream as possible.
Using slotted spoon or your hands, scoop up the berries, letting some excess cream drain through your fingers or spoon. Place the berries into the baked tart shell and arrange nicely. Discard excess cream, you may have 1/4 - 1/2 cup of cream left at the bottom of the bowl.

Place the tart on a baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
Bake tart for 40-45 minutes. The tart will still appear moist.

For Lavender Syrup:
Combine sugar, lavender, water and honey in medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar, then reduce heat to medium. Briskly simmer until the syrup reaches 235F on a candy thermometer, about 30-35 minutes.
Cool syrup completely for about 30 minutes at room temperature and strain it though a fine sieve. Stir in the lemon juice. You will have 1 cup of syrup, which is much more than you need.

To make Whipped Cream:
Whip cream with wire whip or an electric mixer on high speed until it forms soft peaks. Add 2 tablespoons of lavender syrup and continue to whip until combined.
After tart has cooled completely, serve each slice with a few spoons of lavender syrup drizzled over it. Top with whipped cream and serve.

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