In the chronology of fruit, the classic ‘garden’ strawberry is quite a recent thing. Most of the strawberries we eat are derived from a cross between a Virginian species and a Chilean one. That variety was first grown in Brittany in the late 1700s.
Before that, strawberries were gathered wild from forests, and in some cases from plants that had been moved from the forest to the garden. There are records of the Romans using wild strawberries as a medicine, and more recent research in rodents confirms their potential as antidepressants (1).
The strawberry tart probably came into being around the same time as pies (c. 1500s), and followed a growing trend for layering foods in pastry cases.
These days, the strawberry tart is most commonly associated with France, where it is known as a ‘barquette de fraises,’ which is confusingly the same term used to describe a punnet of strawberries sitting in a shop.
To make barquettes des fraises, you need to make pâte sucrée, blind bake it, pop in some crème Chantilly, top with strawberries and glaze with a reduced syrup.
- Hazar, S. Fitri, LL. AIP Conf. Proc. 2015;1677
Barquettes des fraises du bois
- For the pastry:
- 200g flour
- 100g butter
- 75g sifted icing sugar,
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg beaten for washing
- For the crème Chantilly:
- 300ml whipping cream
- 15g caster sugar
- Vanilla extract to taste
- For the syrup:
- 100ml water
- 100ml (volume) caster sugar
- 2 strawberries, chopped
- To finish:
- 400g strawberries, hulled and halved
Begin by preparing the pastry cases. combine the dry ingredients and butter in a food processor. With the mixer running, add the egg and watch the pastry come together in a lump. Roll flat to about 2cm think, wrap and chill for 1h. Working quickly with plenty of dusting flour, roll out the pastry to final thickness, cut into circles with a cookie cutter and transfer to an oil-sprayed muffin tin. Press in with scrap pastry, prick the bases, line with triple layer of cling wrap and fill each well with rice. Freeze 30 mins. Bake in an oven at 190˚C 10 mins. Remove rice and bake for 20 mins. Brush the pastry with egg and bake for a final 10 mins.
To make the créme Chantilly, whisk the ingredients together to set peaks.
To make the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium heat. Add the chopped strawberries, reduce until thickened and strain to reserve the liquid. Discard the fruit.
To finish the tarts, spook some cream into each baked case, Add some strawberry halves, and spoon over the strawberry syrup.