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19 April 2012

Strawberry Tart, Strawberry Trifle, Three Awards and a Cat Who Ate My Tart

I have more things to share today that I think you should grab a chair, sit down and lend me an ear.  

Good things got thrown in to my side of the blogger fence these past two days.  While on the neighborhood fence, a bad thing came in as I still see black, or a funny one if you give me a few months to sit on it and wait for me to sizzle back to the right temperature.  My husband and son think it's funny but they keep straight faces in front of me because I might turn into an angry cat myself.

Let me start with what irked me so much.  Promise me you won't laugh too.

The other day, I spent my whole afternoon in the kitchen preparing some strawberry tarts, a big one and three small ones.  After all the work I did, I stepped back and admired my work.  I was extremely happy with the tarts.  If you're a baker, you might wonder what my fuss is all about with the tarts.  I am a novice baker and i always encounter blunders when I approach the job.  There's a missing connection there, somewhere, but I am persistent.  I will keep on baking.

I had to prepare the table for dinner and the tarts had to go inside the fridge, which, of course I don't have space in.  So I took them outside to chill and set.  Less than an hour later, I opened the door to get the tarts for dessert.  There were strawberries on the ground and the biggest strawberry tart had been eaten on different parts.  I shrieked.  In Italian.  When I am angry, I usually say a litany of words in English.  I was upset, beyond words.  I was devastated when my senses came back. The stray cats our neighbor keeps on giving food to arrived all the way to our house to eat my strawberry tart.  The other three were untouched, thank God!  An afternoon's work went to nothing.  Not mention all those strawberries and other ingredients going to waste.  

I saw episodes of pies cooling on windowsills that were being stolen by cats in cartoon shows but I never even acknowledged its relation to reality.  Even cartoons can give you lessons in life. 

Breathe in, breathe out.  Relax.

Now the wonderful part.  I received three awards from fellow food bloggers in a span of two days.  Two Versatile Blogger Awards (my third actually) and one Liebster Award.  Good things come in threes. 

Let's hope bad things don't come in threes too or I will start going around with a bazooka to shoo away the cats.  Cat lovers, don't hate me! 

These awards given to me have rules attached to them.

For the Versatile Blogger Award, here are the rules:

Thank the person who gave you this award. 

Include a link to their blog.

Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.

Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

In the same post, include this set of rules.
Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

The Liebster Blog Award is sort of a chain letter  among bloggers meant to showcase exceptional up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  It is a recognition that a fellow blogger has noticed and appreciated your work.  Liebster is German for dearest, favorite, or beloved.  

Thank the Liebster Blog Award Presenter on your blog
Link back to the blogger who nominated you
Copy and paste the award on your blog
Reveal 5 blogs of your choice
Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog

Now, I would like to thank the three wonderful bloggers who nominated me.  Christi of Mom, What's for Dinner?Amanda of Auntie Treats and Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.  Thank you very much! 

I already wrote things about me when I received the Versatile Award the first time.  Refer to this link if you are interested.

Here are some bloggers I have been following lately (some have more than 200 followers but this is the best I can do to conform with the rules of both awards):

And now, let's go to the food.  The tarts are classic strawberry tarts, the recipe of which, I got from Giallo Zafferano (in Italian).   I came up with the strawberry trifle because I still had a lot of fresh strawberries.  I left a little bit of the custard cream I used in the tarts, added some fresh strawberries and dipped some savoiardi (ladyfingers) in strawberry liqueur.  There, I had been thinking about a dessert like it. 

This pictorial was the day after and the picture below is the reconstructed tart that went to the trash after the photos.  Sigh. 

Thank you for sitting with me and hope you enjoyed this post.

Strawberry Trifle

Serves 2
  • 1 cup crema pasticcera (custard cream)
  • 4 - 8 savoiardi (ladyfinger biscuits), depending on the size of the glass
  • fresh strawberries
  • pistachios (optoinal)
  • confectioner's sugar
  • strawberry liqueur or any liqueur or syrup that blends well with strawberries (you can also omit this if you want it to taste simple)
  1. Quickly dip both sides of the savoiardi in the strawberry liqueur.  
  2. Make one layer at the bottom of the glass.  
  3. Spoon some crema pasticcera on top.  
  4. Sprinkle some chopped strawberries next.
  5. Put another layer of savoiardi dipped in strawberry liqueur.
  6. Spoon some more crema pasticcera.
  7. Top with halved strawberries.
  8. Sprinkle with ground pistachios and confectioner's sugar.

Strawberry Tart

Serves 8 in a baking pan with a diameter of 28 cm.

Shortbread Crust:

(You can also buy the ready made one.)

  • 100 g. cold butter, diced + a knob for rubbing the baking pan
  • 300 g. flour  + some for sprinkling
  • 8 g. (1/2 packet) lievito chimico in polvere (baking powder)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 packet vanilla powder
  • 140 g. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • old dried beans or rice for helping shape the crust

Crema Pasticcera (Custard Cream):

  • 100 g. flour
  • 500 ml. fresh whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 200 g. sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod (sliced in the middle, lengthwise, with seeds taken out using the tip of the knife)


  • 500 g. fresh strawberries, cleaned, leaves cut away & halved lengthwise (leave one unsliced)
  • 200 ml. water
  • 50 ml. strawberry syrup
  • 13 g. Tortagel (or any gelatin powder, following the amount to use with 250 ml. liquid)

Shortbread crust:

  1. Put together the flour, salt & butter (just taken out from the fridge) in a mixer.  Mix until the mixture comes out grainy.  Add the sugar.
  2. Transfer mixture to a wooden board.  Form a mountain with a hole at the center.  Add vanilla and egg yolks at the center and knead until the dough becomes compact and elastic.
  3. Form the dough into a ball.  Wrap with a plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge between 30 - 40 minutes.
  4. Unwrap dough and place it on a wooden board sprinkled with flour.  Flatten with a rolling pin.   The dough should have a diameter of about 34 cm.  
  5. Prepare the baking pan by rubbing some butter on it and sprinkling some flour.
  6. Transfer dough to the baking pan.  Cut away the excess on the edges.
  7. Prick the bottom part of the dough with a fork.
  8. Cut parchment paper into a round disk, with the same circumference as the bottom part of the baking pan.  Place it on the dough.  
  9. *I added this part about the beans from the original recipe because the dough usually loses its shape on the sides while baking.  Pour dried beans or rice to serve as temporary filling that should give the shape to the crust until it hardens.   Put it in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees Celcius and bake for 10 minutes.  Take it out of the oven after 10 minutes and remove the beans/rice.  These cannot be used for cooking anymore but can be kept in a sealed jar until the next time you need them again for this purpose.  Put back the crust in the oven and cook for another 20 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let it cool.

Crema pasticcera (custard cream):

  1. Boil milk (taking away 1/2 glass for later use) in a saucepan with a vanilla pod.   After it boils, take it away from the fire and let it infuse for 10 minutes.  
  2. In a bowl beat egg yolks with sugar using an electric mixer until the mixture becomes creamy and frothy.  
  3. Pour about 1/3 of the milk that you segregated, then the flour, little by little.  Continue mixing with the electric mixer.  
  4. Take away the vanilla pod.  Pour the mixture little by little to the milk in the saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Whisk continuously to prevent formation of lumps.  Simmer on low heat until it becomes thick.  Turn off the fire and let it cool.  


  1. Pour water, strawberry syrup and gelatin powder in a saucepan. 
  2. Mix continuously and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, put down the fire and let it simmer for 2 minutes.  Turn off fire and let it cool, mixing continuously.

Composing the tart:

  1. Transfer crust to a serving plate.  
  2. Fill up the crust with crema pasticcera.
  3. Starting from the border, put the halved strawberries until you reach the center.  Put the unsliced strawberry at the center.  
  4. With the use of a spoon, cover the strawberries with the gelatin.
  5. Put the tart in the fridge for at least an hour to set.