Fruit Tart with Forest Strawberries

For the dessert course of my Renaissance “small dishes” party, I returned to a recipe I had already wrestled with in the past: Anna Wecker’s strawberry tart.

A tart of strawberries or gooseberries (Kreusel- oder Stichbeeren), whatever they be called

Take eggs, the yolks alone or all together as you wish, beat and whip them well, then take good thick cream that is sweet, stir in as much as there are eggs, add rosewater if you wish, grind of almonds what is right and pass it through (a cloth) with the cream, but in that case take a little more of the milk (cream) than of the eggs. Hold it over a bright fire, but far away, stir it diligently until it begins to thicken a little, but do not let it boil. Then the dish (pastry) should be ready, and it should not be too high, half as high as another tart is. Then pour the mix into it and place nice strawberries or gooseberries in it so that they are half in the mass and half sticking out, and strew it well with sugar so that you neither see the mass nor the berries. The strawberries should be washed in rosewater and not too ripe, for then they turn to mush immediately, but the gooseberries are fine and right when they are already yellow and clear. They need much sugar. Bake them well and give a lot of heat below, but not too much above so that they stay nicely white. It is enough quickly. If you bake them in an oven, lay a piece of paper on top.

The combination of fresh fruit and a creamy custard base sounds wonderful, and this time, I had been able to gather a small amount of forest strawberries. Earlier attempts with modern strawberries had failed because of an excess of moisture, so I hoped the smaller, denser fruit would produce a more palatable result. They did.

I prepared an almost liquid custard from cream and egg yolks with a dash of rosewater and filled it into small tartlets. Since this was intended as proof of concept, I opted for storebought puff pastry to save time, but I am convinced this would work equally well with a butter-based crust. Since I did not have enough forest strawberries to fill all tartlets, I added redcurrants to the rest. That also worked very well.

The result in both cases was more eggy and richer than I expected, with the fruit providing aroma rather than any freshness. It was still excellent, but very much unlike Erdbeerkuchen.

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