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Elderflower creme fraiche tart with British strawberries, by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel

02 June 2010

This recipe by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel makes the most of seasonal June ingredients such as elderflowers and British strawberries, which are at their most flavoursome in the summer months. For more recipes, see our article Flavours of June.

INGREDIENTS (Serves four)

For the elderflower crème fraîche tart

• 6 egg yolks
• 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
• Zest of 2 limes
• 160g caster sugar
• 100g elderflower syrup or cordial
• 500g crème fraîche, drained weight

For the sweet pastry

• 230g plain all-purpose flour
• 140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 60g caster sugar
• 1 egg
• Pinch of salt
• 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

For the strawberry sorbet

• 500g strawberries, hulled and frozen individually
• 70g caster sugar
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1tbs berry liqueur
• 1 free-range egg white

For the strawberry pearls

• 150g fresh overripe strawberries, hulled
• 20g caster sugar
• 2 leaves of gelatine, soaked
• 500ml peanut or ground nut oil

For the strawberry sherbet

• 20g dried strawberries
• ¼tsp citric acid (normally used to make elderflower cordial, obtained from pharmacies)
• 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 60g sifted icing sugar

For the elderflower macerated strawberry with summer savory

• 4 whole fresh strawberries, hulled
• 20ml elderflower liquor (St Germain)
• 1 sprig of summer savory finely chopped


To make the sweet pastry, cream the softened butter, salt, sugar and vanilla seeds until fluffy and pale in colour. Lightly whisk the egg and slowly incorporate, a bit at a time, into the butter mixture. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

Turn the pastry out on to a lightly floured work surface, do not knead the pastry, just push it together into flat square. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for three hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface, to about 4mm thick, carefully line the pastry ring, and leave the pastry hanging over the edges. Line a 10cm x 35cm x 2.5cm pastry case with blind baking beans and blind bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 150°C and continue blind baking until the pastry is cooked and crisp without any colour. While the pastry is blind baking, prepare the second stage of the elderflower and crème fraîche filling.

To make the elderflower crème fraîche tart, prepare the crème fraîche one day in advance: weigh 600g crème fraîche into a sieve lined with muslin cloth, leave to drain overnight in the fridge.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds until light and fluffy, stir in the lime zest, elderflower syrup and weigh 500g drained crème fraiche into the mix, mix well.

Preheat the oven to 110°C.

Once the blind baked pastry case is ready, pour the crème fraiche mixture into the tart case and bake the tart for 45 minutes or until just set. One wobble in the centre is good. Carefully remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

To make the strawberry sorbet, weigh the sugar into the Thermomix bowl, secure the lid and blend on speed 10 for 10 seconds, add the frozen strawberries, lemon juice and liqueur.

Secure the lid and insert the Thermomix spatula, gently turn the speed dial to speed 10 and blend.

Scrape the sides down and repeat this process until the strawberries are smooth. Add the egg white. Blend for 30 seconds on speed 10. Scrape the sides down and insert the butterfly whisk and whisk the sorbet on speed 4 for 30 seconds. Transfer the sorbet in to the cold plastic container and store in freezer until needed.

To make the strawberry pearls, place the oil in the freezer to chill as cold as you possibly can get it.

Soak the gelatine in cold water until soft.

Blend the strawberries with the sugar until smooth, melt the soaked gelatine and add to the strawberry juice and pass it through a fine sieve.

Use a small syringe or pipette and drop small droplets of the strawberry mixture into the cold oil, leave them to set.

Once the pearls are set, carefully transfer them to a small sieve and lightly rinse them under cold running water, leave to drain. Keep the strawberry pearls chilled until needed.

To prepare the strawberry sherbet, weigh 20g of the dried strawberries, citric acid, sifted icing sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a food processor and blend till a fine powder. Keep the sherbet in a clean airtight container of glass jar until needed.

For elderflower macerated strawberry with summer savory, wash and hull the strawberries, pat them dry. Cut the strawberries in half and slice each half keeping it together. Place the sliced strawberries in a small container and splash over the elderflower cordial and sprinkle the chopped savory. Leave to marinate for five minutes.

To serve, cut a 4cm wide slice of the tart and position it on the plate. Position the elderflower macerated strawberry on the one side, spoon the strawberry pearls on the opposite side, place a quenelle of the strawberry sorbet in the middle. Garnish the tart with a dusting of the strawberry sherbet and a few of the elderflowers. Hydrated strawberry crisps are an optional garnish.

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