For the pastry
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1½ tsp baking powder
Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…
- 125g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 125g caster sugar
- 1 large sprig thyme, leaves stripped
This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…
- 3 egg yolk
- dry, uncooked rice, for baking
For the filling
- 250g ripe, even-size British strawberry, hulled
Once available in Britain for just a brief period during the summer, strawberries are now a year…
- 4 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
True Balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is made…
- 284ml tub double cream
- finely grated zest 1 lemon
Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…
- finely grated zest 1 lime
The same shape, but smaller than…
- 2 ripe (wrinkled) passion fruit, halved
- 2 tbsp crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp natural yogurt
- 6 large basil leaves, chopped
Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…
- icing sugar and a handful small basil leaves to serve
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To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until it is the texture of crumbs, then mix in the sugar and thyme leaves. Make a well in the centre. Beat the egg yolks together, then stir into the mixture with a table knife until it forms soft clumps. Using your fingers, draw the pastry together into a rough dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead into a smooth ball. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 30 mins. Rub a little softened butter around a plain 20cm x 2cm flan ring.
Cover a heavy baking sheet with nonstick baking parchment and place the ring in the centre. Dust the work surface and rolling pin with flour. Lightly re-knead the dough until smooth, then roll out to a round roughly 30cm in diameter. Lift the dough over the rolling pin and drape over the ring. Press gently into the sides and let the overhang fall on the outside. Break off a chunk of pastry and roll into a ball. Dip into a little of the icing sugar, then use it to press the dough into the ring. Do not trim at this stage. Chill the tart case for at least 30 mins, preferably in the freezer.
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Cover the tart case with a large round of baking parchment, then half-fill with uncooked rice. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 15 mins. Remove and lift out the parchment and rice. Turn oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3, wait about 5 mins, then return the case and bake for a further 10 mins until golden brown. Remove and cool for 10 mins. Using a small, sharp knife, cut away excess pastry, trimming the ring top. Loosen the sides with a knife, pull off the ring and leave to cool. The case should be biscuit crisp.
To make the filling, place the strawberries on a plate, dredge with the icing sugar and vinegar, then set aside. Beat the cream with the grated zests until just forming soft peaks. Scoop the passion fruit pulp into a small sieve and rub through onto the cream with the back of a spoon, then stir in the crème fraîche and yogurt. Stack the large basil leaves together, shape into a roll, thinly slice into shreds, then chop. Fold these into the cream.
When the base has completely cooled (it doesn’t matter if it has broken around the sides a little), assemble the tart. Spoon the cream into a piping bag without a nozzle, then pipe in small, even dollops over the base. Drain the strawberries and press lightly onto the cream. Dust over more icing sugar, tuck in the small basil leaves among the strawberries and serve immediately.
The sweet pastry is quite fragile because it has a higher proportion of butter to flour than most pastry. If you find it impossible to roll out, it can be easily moulded with fingertips, like marzipan, into the tart case.
Tip from Gordon
'Instead of ceramic or metal baking beans, I use uncooked rice. It is lighter, so holds the pastry down without squashing it.'
Pastry cases - flavours and storing
You can experiment with extra flavours for the dough. My other favourite flavours are lavender flowers, vanilla seeds and cardamom seeds – whatever suits the season and topping. The cases can be rolled out and frozen for up to 1 month and cooked from frozen, or baked up to a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. Complete the topping and cream about 30 mins before serving.
Fluted or straight?
I like to use a straight-sided ring for the tart, but if you only have a fluted one it will be fine – you just need to roll the pastry out a bit thicker so that it will get into all the ridges.