Strawberries & Spring Form Pans
‘Tis the season for strawberries. Always a favorite of mine, I could eat strawberries 365 days a year. It wasn’t until I hit the farmers market, though, that I first saw fresh strawberries with their stems intact. Geek that I am, I became way too excited and showed the stems to H, who nodded respectfully. It’s easy to see the difference between supermarket and greenmarket strawberries, most notably in size. Once I tasted these, however, I was hooked. No more supermarket strawberries for me. This week I completed my green market shop (which always includes farm fresh eggs from the same stand) and bought my usual pint of strawberries. (I especially love the little mesh caps they use to cover them.) While I normally could eat a whole container in one sitting, I decided to be creative. Inspired by some recipes in French Women Don’t Get Fat, which I mentioned here, I thought it would be fun to bake a summer dessert. Fresh fruit + a dinner guest = motivation.
While H prepared dinner (a summer pasta salad which included fresh shelling peas from the market), I searched for some recipes online. The winner was this one from epicurious.com.
Italian Strawberry Tart
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut in half, plus additional whole strawberries for garnish (optional)
fresh whipped cream (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a spring-form pan.
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir by hand until just moistened. Do not overmix.
4. Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press strawberry halves deeply into the dough in a circular pattern of 2 or 3 rings. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream and strawberries, if desired.
The recipe called for two things I hadn’t done before: a) the baking of a tart and b) the use of a spring form pan. For some reason, spring form pans made me nervous; I would always avoid them whenever possible. These nerves stemmed from fear that the cake would fail to rise or would irrevocably stick to the sides. Fresh strawberries in hand, I decided that today was the day. I also reminded myself that I had simple ice-cream and chocolate chip cookies for a back-up dessert. So, I forged ahead.
The tart was easy to make and the spring form pan was simple to use. A little butter on all sides does the trick. Mine is by Cuisinart and was purchased at Century 21 (they have a great cooking section). The tart turned out moist and remained so for many days. I served it with canned whipped cream though next time I plan to make my own. (Super easy, if you’ve never made it before). My guest enjoyed the tart and even took a second piece. Verdict? See above. Those are next morning’s remnants. I definitely recommend this recipe if you have 1 hour and some strawberries to spare.