Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes...

I'm back! I didn't take a break as such and it hadn't been my intention to not blog, but I had set myself a deadline for a project (well, the deadline had actually been dictated by outside events) which I really wanted and needed to complete. I have poured a lot of time, energy and creativity into it and now have to do some follow up work. Last week has also been crazy (in a good way) with events, the London Book Fair, meeting old friends and new people, and trying to catch up with other work deadlines.

It always seems to be the way with not much in-between: crazy busy or worried about work coming in. Of course all this goes with the territory of being a freelancer. It is like a constant roller coaster. When things go well I feel like I can take a deep breath and relax for a moment, but that never lasts for very long because once one job is over there inevitably comes the search for the next one to pay the next set of bills. There's always an element of insecurity which doesn't really do me any favours considering my natural tendency to worry about everything and anything. I worry about getting things wrong and unwittingly upsetting people. I wonder whether I have done a good job when I don't receive any feedback and of course I worry about taking on the right kind of work. Yes, I worry a lot. Still, I'm loving the challenges and the good moments when somebody appreciates my work. They make it all worthwhile. They mean that in-between all the worries, there are many moments of happiness and fulfilment. 

Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes

And then there's of course baking and cooking! My way to relax, immerse myself into the kind of work that is (or at least can be) creative, when I let my thoughts wander whilst concentrating at the same time. It's funny really, I never set out to be a "food blogger". I thought I was all about interiors. Yet, somehow it happened when I let real life cross into my blogging life. Just like I don't have only one single interest in my life, it makes sense to me to share more than one aspect here. Maybe it's about honesty and about showing that there's more than one side to me. Anyway, I digress... 

These are some strawberry tartelettes I made a little while back. We have a forsythia bush outside our home and I was curious about using them in cooking. After doing some research, I found out that they are indeed edible, though I had no idea what they'd taste like. I made some tea and syrup. I found out that these flowers taste like a very floral Earl Grey tea. Or something like it. It's hard to describe a taste... Anyway, whilst I wouldn't advocate foraging in South London on a regular basis, I'm certain that the odd occasion won't do any harm - provided the petals are washed. To be on the safe side though, you should get edible flowers from a specialist grower. I used the syrup to make a glaze for these tartelettes. Admittedly, the flavour is extremely subtle, but it does add something extra. I guess you'll just have to decide for yourself whether it's worth it... 

Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 strawberries per tart, 36 in total 

For the syrup:

  • 100ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 20g fresh forsythia petals, washed + some for decoration
  • 1/2 tsp granulated gelatine

For the shortcrust:

  • 220g plain flour
  • 100g butter - chilled
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 large egg

For the crème pâtissière:

  • 500ml semi skimmed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes

And here's how it's done:

You will need to make the syrup and the crème pâtissière the day before.

For the syrup:

  • Pick the forsythia petals off the branch and wash them thoroughly in cold water
  • place the water and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil
  • leave to bubble for about a minute
  • add the washed petals and bubble for another minute
  • transfer to a bowl and leave to cool
  • cover and store for 24 hours

For the crème pâtissière:

  • mix the flour and corn flour together
  • put the milk into a saucepan, add the scraped out vanilla seeds
  • on a medium heat, bring the milk to boiling point, then take off the heat
  • put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk until pale, fluffy and doubled in size
  • add the flour mix to the egg mixture
  • once combined, add the hot milk to the egg mix whilst constantly whisking
  • return the whole mix back to the saucepan and onto a medium heat
  • you will have to continuously stir the mix with a whisk (do not stop!) until it's thick
  • take the thickened cream off the heat and transfer to a large, shallow dish
  • cover with cling film which should be on the cream to prevent it forming a 'skin'
  • leave to cool before putting into the fridge to chill for 24 hours

For the shortcrust:

  • mix the flour and sugar
  • cube the butter and add to the flour mix
  • using your hands, work the butter into the flour mix until combined to a crumbly texture
  • add the egg and work into a soft dough
  • form into a ball, wrap in cling film and put the dough into the fridge to rest for an hour
  • preheat your oven to 180C
  • grease and flour your tartelette forms
  • flour your work surface and slowly roll out the dough 
  • place the dough into the forms, cover with greaseproof paper and fill the forms with baking beans
  • bake for 10 minutes
  • remove the baking beans and paper and bake for another 5 minutes
  • remove the tartelettes from the oven and leave to cool

To assemble:

  • first make the glaze
  • sprinkle the gelatine into 2 tbsp of the cold syrup and add to a small pan
  • now heat the mixture very slowly
  • add the rest of the syrup and warm up. DO NOT let the mix boil
  • take off the heat and leave to cool for around 20 minutes until slightly thickened
  • whilst the glaze is thickening, pipe the crème pâtissière into the tartelette shells
  • put one strawberry into the middle and arrange 6 halves around the middle one
  • with a teaspoon, pour enough glaze over each tartelette to cover evenly
  • decorate with some forsythia blossoms
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes
Strawberry & Forsythia Tartelettes

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