Nothing says early summer like fresh strawberries and nothing pairs quite as well with their juicy sweetness as the tartness of lemons. And from lemons, well, the next place my mind leapt to was poppyseeds. Put these three flavors together, weave a bit of summer magic and you’ll have pretty tartlets fit for the gods, or, at least, some very lucky friends.
Baker's Note: I have given instructions for homemade lemon curd and a poppyseed crust, but feel free to substitute a store-bought pie crust and a jar of good-quality lemon curd for a quick and easy version. If you don’t have time to marinate the strawberries, sliced fresh strawberries will work just as well.
Strawberry Lemon Poppy Seed Tart // makes 1 x 11 inch tart or 8 x 3 1/2 inch tartlets -
active time 30 minutes (start to finish 1 hour and 50 minutes including chilling and baking)
For the strawberry topping: (start this the evening before you want to make the tarts):
- 1 basket strawberries
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Wash the strawberries. Slice them into a bowl and add the lemon juice and sugar. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight.
For the sweet poppyseed crust:
- 1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup almond flour (optional, if not use 2 cups of all-purpose flour)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, diced
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon iced water, stirred together
- Butter for greasing the pans
Put the flour, almond flour if using, sugar, salt and poppy seeds into a food processor and gently pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and process until you have a breadcrumb-like mix. Add the egg and water mix bit by bit, pulsing as you do so, until the mix starts to form a ball around the blade. Turn it out onto a floured surface, bring everything together to form a dough, press into two flat discs, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for one hour.
Grease your tart pan or pans with a little butter. After it has rested, pre-heat the oven to 375°F and roll out the dough to about a quarter of inch thick. If you are using mini tartlet pans, use a bowl or plate and a knife to measure and cut out circles that are slightly wider than the pans. Press the circles of pastry into the pans, making sure you get into all the all the corners as this will stop them shrinking too much.
Prick the bottoms of the tarts with a fork and bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and fully cooked. Set aside to cool.
For the lemon curd filling:
- 3 eggs
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons (half stick) butter, cut into small dice
- 8 oz mascarpone or other cream cheese
Place the eggs, lemon juice and zest, and sugar into a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Whisk them together until blended. Keeping gently cooking and whisking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon - if you have a thermometer it should read around 160°F. Remove the mixture immediately from the heat and strain into a bowl. (Don’t overcook it, or it will turn into scrambled eggs). Whisk the butter bit by bit into the warm lemon curd until it has all melted. Set aside to cool, covered by a damp cloth so that a skin doesn’t form.
When the lemon curd has completely cooled stir in the mascarpone or cream cheese until fully blended.
Fill the pastry cases with the lemon curd mascarpone mixture and top with the marinated strawberries. Any leftover juice from the strawberries is delicious on yogurt or used as a strawberry simple syrup for lemonade or cocktails.
recipe and photography by paola thomas for coco kelley