When I think of Denmark I think of red things – the flag, the Christmas Nisse and of course Strawberries! Groundberries as they are known as in Danish are synonymous with summer in Denmark. They are a treasured fruit, savoured by all and made into many delicious dishes. But none come as close to perfection than the majestic Jorbærtærte, ie a Strawberry Tart. It is perfect in every way. It is fruity, sweet, tart, chocolatey, creamy, light and crisp. The only drawback is it does need to be eaten the same day as cooking….What a shame!
Despite not being in Denmark, but rather Scotland, and despite not having as good a summer here than in Scandinavia, I did have a fantastic crop of strawberries this year. The birds and the mice also took a fancy to my red berries, but I still got a few kg for myself. And what better dish to serve my homegrown fruit in, than this summer desert.
If you don’t have strawberries growing in your garden, (do it next year) then go to a pick-your-own farm and experience the unmistakable intense flavour of a freshly picked berry. Nothing compares to it. And whatever you do, don’t make this recipe in the middle of winter, strawberries aren’t in season, even if you see them in the supermarket, and they do not taste of anything either!
The secret to getting this tart looking and tasting the best is the pastry. I really love to make pastry, but there is always a moment of dread when waiting to see if the dough will shrink too much and make a shallow crust. I found this excellent vintage vid of Delia Smith in the 70’s explaining that you never stretch the pastry into the pan, you ease it in, and then push it really tightly into place. That technique works for me every time, and ensures a lovely crinkled edge.
Apart from strawberries, another heavily used ingredient in the Danish kitchen is Marzipan*. Usually it is saved for the Christmas table, but it is a delicious feature of a Strawberry Tart. If you don’t like marzipan..well then you could omit the marzipan mixture, and just have it with the vanilla cream.
* Now we’re not talking about british flux marzipan consisting of 10 % almonds and 90% fillers. Real authentic Danish marzipan is made of 60% almonds and 40% sugar. It is possible to make your own, if you have a good food processor, or buy the Danish stuff online. But the crappy british stuff will do too, i suppose..at a push 😉
•100g butter, cold
•50g icing sugar
•100-150 g wheat flour
•1 small egg
•75g dark chocolate for brushing on the base
Marzipan Mix :
• 200g marzipan
• 100g sugar
• 100g of butter
• 2 eggs
• 50g plain flour
Vanilla Cream :
• 1 egg
• 15g of corn starch
• ½ vanilla pod
• 250 ml whole milk
• 40g of caster sugar
• 250ml whipping cream
For the top :
• 500g strawberries, halved
• sifted icing sugar
• mint leaves
For the pastry:
- Cut the butter into cubes, and rub together with icing sugar and flour. Add the egg, and kneed the dough quickly, do not over work the dough or it will get sticky.
- Wrap, and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 ° C/fan 180 ° C/gas 4/350 °F
- Mix the marzipan, butter and sugar together.
- Stir the eggs in one at a time, beating well in-between. Sift in the flour and mix to combine.
- Roll out the short crust pastry thinly on a floured surface, to the thickness of £1 coin. Place the dough in a greased 23cm tart tin, easing the dough into the tin, then press firmly into all the grooves.
- Spread the marzipan mixture over the base of the tart.
- Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is firm to the touch. Cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie and brush the base of the tart with the chocolate. (this prevents the pastry from going soggy.)
- For the Vanilla Cream : Beat the eggs and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, milk and sugar, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Remove the cream from the heat when it has thickened. Remove the vanilla pod. Set aside to cool.
- Next, whip the cream to soft peaks, and fold into the cooled vanilla cream.
- Gently spread the cream mixture over the tart, and top with strawberries, starting from the outer edge, overlapping the layers as you go.
- Before serving, garnish with powdered sugar and mint.