Sadly, strawberry season is over in these parts, though fortunately I picked enough strawberries a few weekends ago that I will have plenty to bake with in the coming months. Thank goodness for freezers!
Months ago I purchase some adorable little tartlet pans but had not yet used them for anything so I decided to amend the situation this past weekend. I also have been meaning to experiment more with gluten-free baking since it intrigues me and I have many gluten-free flours in my pantry, so when I found a pate sucre (sweet crust) recipe from my La Tartine Gourmande cookbook I was inspired to marry it with some freshly picked strawberries in said tartlet pans.
The recipe called for sweet white rice flour which I have plenty of but also quinoa flour which I did not have. I found it in a local health food store but it was crazy expensive but since I always have actual quinoa in my pantry I decided to go DIY and grind it into flour myself. Many websites advised toasting the quinoa before grinding it into flour I ignored that and just ground it down using my coffee grinder. I was a bit nervous how it would turn out because quinoa can sometimes be a little bitter but in this particular recipe there was enough else going on (namely confectioners’ sugar) that it turned out fine. Next time I may try to toast the quinoa before grinding, however, and I will let you know if it’s worth it or not.
This dough had to be refrigerated for a few hours and then brought to room temperature before being rolled out. Upon rolling the dough out I used a biscuit cutter to get it into shapes that fit neatly into the tartlet pans but neatness is definitely not required here. You could pat the dough into the pans in any manner you choose and it will still turn out fine, I was just being fancy. I pre-baked the tartlet crusts so put parchment paper into each tartlet pan and then weighted that with dried beans. Apparently you can buy pie weights but I don’t see the point since dried beans or rice work just as well and I always have them on hand. (Save them and use them as intended, just let them cool after their stint as pie weights and put them back with the rest of the beans or rice.)
I did research for the strawberry filling but wound up shooting from the hip since a lot of what I was finding seemed more complicated than it needed to be. I wanted to keep it simple with strawberries as the main star. The one (simple but) slightly fancy thing I did was to use the seeds from half of a vanilla bean pod to scent/flavor the sugar I used to macerate the strawberries. It’s so easy to do but makes the dish more luxurious.
Sprinkle the vanilla-infused sugar on top of sliced strawberries and let the berries macerate for about an hour.
Then pour the berries into the pre-baked tartlet shells and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more in the oven to let the strawberries roast a little bit.
The tartlets are best served warm from the oven, and if you wanted to serve them with a little ice cream, whipped cream, or even a dollop of mascarpone cheese I would say that you and I should be friends.
Pate Sucre (Sweet Crust) (from “La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life” by Beatrice Peltre)
- ½ cup white rice flour
- 1/3 cup quinoa flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 1 small egg
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle blade, combine the flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum, and confectioners’ sugar. Work on medium speed to obtain a fine mixture. Add the butter and work again until crumbles form. Add the egg and work until the dough detaches from the bowl and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours. Bring to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes, when the crust doesn’t feel hard).
Using gluten-free dough, generously dust work surface and rolling pin. Roll out room-temperature dough to circle slightly larger than 10-inch tart pan. If you are using tartlet pans as I did, the shape of the rolled-out dough doesn’t matter so much as you will be fitting it into smaller pans. I used a floured biscuit cutter to portion out dough for the tartlet pans but use whatever method you feel is best.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Once you have rolled out the dough and pressed it into the tart mold(s), cover it with a piece of parchment paper, and top it with pie weights (dry rice or beans work too). Bake the crust for 10 or 15 minutes, until light brown.
- 3 cups washed, hulled, and sliced strawberries
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ½ vanilla bean pod
Slice vanilla bean pod in half and set half away for use at a later time. Scrape the seeds out of the half you are using into a small bowl. Pour sugar into the same bowl and use clean fingers to rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar.
Place sliced strawberries into medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle vanilla sugar mixture over the top and let berries macerate for about an hour.
After berries have macerated, pour into pre-baked tart shells and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes in preheated 350 degree F oven. Enjoy tartlets warm with a dollop of ice cream, whip cream, or mascarpone cheese.