Eat with Enzo: Strawberry & Madagascan Vanilla Tart
Importing food from across the world means it can be summer all year round in the UK. We can have strawberries in December and parsnips in June, but there is a price to pay for it. Our food miles, the distance our food travels from farm to fork, increase with the demand to eat foods outside of their UK season. But transportation is only one many factors, such as the energy and water used in production and processing and the quantities of nitrogen-based fertilisers used, that contribute to the overall environmental impact of a food.
Shopping for British, local and unpackaged foods as well as choosing to eat more plant based meals can help to make our diets more sustainable. In Leicester we are lucky enough to have the largest outdoor covered market in Europe, where you can pick up fresh seasonal produce for a fraction of the supermarket price! Look out for sweet and juicy British strawberries, the star of my spring recipe – homemade strawberry and Madagascan vanilla tart.
For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g icing sugar
100g chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp. cold water
For the crème pâtissière:
125g caster sugar
4 large egg yolks
500ml whole milk
1 Madagascan vanilla pod, deseeded
20g unsalted butter
400g British strawberries, quartered
To make the pastry, rub the cold butter into the flour and icing sugar using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water then bring together to form a stiff dough. Wrap tightly in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile add the egg yolks and caster sugar to a large mixing bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, then add the cornflour and whisk well.
To make the crème pâtissière, add the milk and vanilla to a medium saucepan and heat until steam rises rapidly. Slowly pour the hot milk into the mixing bowl, whisking continuously, then pour the hot mixture back into the saucepan. Whisk constantly over a medium-high heat for a few minutes until the mixture forms a thick custard. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter then pour into a large shallow dish and cover the surface with cling film. Allow to cool then place in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan) / 200°C (electric). Lightly dust your surface with flour then roll out the pastry to roughly half a cm thick. Line the tin with the pastry and use a bit of excess dough to gently press the pastry into the grooves of the tin. Run a rolling pin over the tin to trim off the excess pastry. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Prick the base of the chilled pastry, line with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans (or raw rice). Blind bake for 10 minutes, then remove the baking beans and return to the oven uncovered for a further 8 minutes until the pastry is a light golden colour. Chill in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the tart, fill the pastry case with the crème pâtissière, and top with the strawberries and mint leaves.