Well, it would appear that winter has finally relinquished Atlanta from its icy grasp.* The sun has been out, everything is in bloom, allergies are intense and it is definitely patio happy hour season. Furthermore, the grocery stores are packed with Florida strawberries. I know this is still a southern phenomenon, because my Mom is sounding more and more envious each time I talk to her and convey the newest tidbit of sunshine and strawberries.
Since strawberries have finally come into season and are all of a sudden like 3 containers for $5, my fridge is pretty stocked with them these days. I sit there gazing at the bright red berries in the store and just can’t resist. The result being, of course, that I’m constantly trying to find ways to use up the strawberries before they go bad. I mean, a girl can make only so many smoothies. I contemplated a lot of different things, but in the end settled on a tarte tatin.
I’ve previously posted a recipe for a Pear Tarte Tatin, which is little closer to the classic apple, but the idea of a strawberry tarte tatin kind of intrigued me, even though it was such a different fruit. The result was the happy marriage of flaky pie crust with a fresh, jammy strawberry filling. The red wine and black pepper help keep the strawberries grounded and complex, reigning in their tendency towards the uber-sweet. Don’t get me wrong, the end product is pretty sweet, but the inclusion of some savory elements knocks it down a notch.
What’s your favorite way to cook with strawberries?
- 8 oz All Purpose Flour
- 4 oz Cake Flour
- 1 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 8 oz Butter
- 1 Tbsp Vodka, ice cold
- 4 to 8 Tbsp Water, ice cold
- 4 oz Butter
- 1 C Sugar
- 1 lb prepped Strawberries (greens trimmed off and sliced in half)
- 2 Tbsp Red Wine
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Sift together the flours, powdered sugar and salt.
- Cut in the butter, using a pastry cutter, bench knife or your hands. You want the end product to have a rough, sandy texture with small chunks of butter throughout.
- Add the vodka and about 3 Tbsp of water to the flour and mix. If the dough doesn't come together, add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until the mixture comes together to form the pie dough.
- Split the dough into two sections, one a little bigger than the other. Form each section into a disc, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to firm up for at least 45 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Melt the butter and sugar in a cast iron (or other heavy, oven-proof pan, but cast iron is best) pan and then continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every so often.
- When the color of the butter and sugar just beings to darken (about 12 minutes or so in), stir in the strawberries, red wine and give the whole pan a good dusting of freshly ground black pepper. Continue to cook, paying close attention so that the filling doesn't burn, and take it from the heat once the liquid begins to thicken a little.
- Remove the filling from the heat and set aside.
- Pull out the larger disc of dough and roll it out on a floured surface until it is about ¼ to ⅓ inch thick and a little wider than the circumference of the pan. Roll the edges in to form a lip around the edges of the dough, and then turn the dough over (so the bottom is facing up) and set the dough on top of the filling. Tuck the rolled edges down along the side of the pan and then dock the dough to let steam escape.
- If desired, you could give the dough a brushing of egg or milk wash.
- Put the dough-covered dessert in the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes: until the crust is browned and puffy and the filling is hot and bubbly.
- Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. It may make sense to have the rack over a piece of parchment paper or baking sheet in case of drips and you will likely want to run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the tarte before attempting to turn the tarte out. If any fruit sticks to the pan, go ahead and add it back into the tarte.
- Cool completely before serving.
Some butter may separate and congeal on the surface of the strawberries if you chill the tarte in the refrigerator. Simply heat the tarte or stick it under the broiler and all will be fixed.
* Does anyone else remember the beginning of Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, when Rainbow confronts Stormy and demands that Stormy end winter because it’s springtime? And then they have that epic horse race on rainbows and storm clouds? and how Stormy’s horse was super badass? No? Just me? Because that’s totally what I think about whenever there’s that struggle between winter and spring.