Strawberry Meringue Tart

One of the best things I learnt in Le Cordon Bleu was Tarts and Pies. I absolutely love the concept of a fruit filling in crisp, flaky crusts and topped with cream or meringue. The rolled out pastry dough can be a bit tricky and needs some practice, but this pressed-in crusts are very easy to work with. Just mix the ingredients into a dough and press in into a tart pan.

This almond pastry is baked blind to a crisp biscuit like consistency and then filled with strawberries. You can replace it with any fruit you like say apples, mangoes, canned blueberry etc. If you don’t like the meringue topping , it’s beautiful though – soft and pillowy, you can top it with whipping cream and skip the last step of baking the meringue.

This recipe has been adapted from a book called Desserts which I had picked up at a flea market, many years back.

Strawberry Meringue Tart in an almond pastry

Strawberry meringue tart

What you will need :

For the almond pastry :

  • 2/3 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup (about 100 grams) finely ground and sieved almonds
  • 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Filling :

  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced or chopped (about 400 grams)
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar

Meringue topping :

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup castor sugar

Process of meringue

What to do :

  1. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch tart and a 5 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  2. To prepare the pastry, combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a mixer and process to form a stiff dough.
  3. Remove it on a plate and knead a couple of times till it all comes together.
  4. Firmly press it at the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Prick it all over with a fork and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Pr-heat oven to 170C and bake it for 20-25 minutes until form and golden. let it cool completely.
  6. To prepare the meringue, beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form. Gently beat in castor sugar.
  7. Combine strawberries and castor sugar.
  8. Now once the tart shell is completely cooled, pile spoonfuls of meringue on the edges of the tart. Fill the centre with the strawberry mixture. Now pile the remaining meringue on the top of the strawberries.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 220C for 10-15 minutes, till the crust is firm and the top of meringue is browned.

Strawberry tart full

Notes :

  • If you are worried about the egg whites staying undercooked, you can bake it for another 5 minutes, till it get firmer.
  • I have used unbalanced almonds, directly powdered in the mixture. I prefer the nuttiness of un-blanched almonds.
  • I used a 9 inch shallow tart pan and a 5 inch smaller pan because I had leftover pastry. If you have a deeper pan, it will all fit into a 9 inch pan.

 

 

The fault in ourselves

Baba putting away glasses

Baba putting away his glasses before a photo

A few years ago when Baghbaan, the Amithabh Bacchan starrer was released, I had not seen it. It was too old-fashioned and the same stereotyped rona-dhona of parents vs. kids did not interest my 17 year old self at all. But later when it was replayed countless times on television, I saw it in parts. And I also saw my dad- a police officer, no less, shed a few tears while watching the movie. (He is going to admonish me for writing this, but he reads the blog post only after I publish it, so there is no going back.) Baghban is a story of how children as adults mis-treat parents who have given up their life and dreams and money and house for the kids.

And then yesterday, I watched the marathi movie Natsamrat. It delves on a similar premise, but this man here Ganpatrao Belvalkar is an acclaimed theatre artist and an excellent actor. He sees a lot of fame and fortune in his heydays and eventually retires, transferring all his property to his son and daughter. It would be easy to say that they mis-treat him, but it is not that simple. The movie is complex and multi-layered. It did not let me sleep the entire night. I wanted that 165 minute movie to go on and on. I wanted Nana Patekar to keep talking, to keep bringing Shakespeare’s words alive on the screen. I was processing a lot of thoughts. You will realise when you see the movie (and you must – it also has English subtitles ) that ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’

The fault in ourselvesOur heart goes out to Ganpatrao, but at the same time wondering what a fool he is to transfer everything he owns to his children. To not have a retirement plan. To have such faith in your kids that it makes you fool-hardy. To relinquish everything you owned for them in the hope and belief that they will care for you forever. On paper the idea sounds ridiculous, which stupid person does that?! But if you look around, you can count at-least a dozen people who have done so. That’s just the Indian way of being. But I wish my parents, my parents-in-law and the parents of everyone I know refrain from doing that. At any cost.

Nobody is evil or bad to begin with. In their own perspective they may not even be doing anything wrong, ever. But situations, circumstances make people act as they do. And it doesn’t take long for a situation to go out of hand. Because every unjust thing that happens or is done – is just slightly more weird than something that happened before that. In totality if you see the journey of decline of relationships from point A to point B, it feels how did they reach this level? Did they never look back and stop? But the comfort of hindsight is not available when you are going through the rigmarole of days and life. And eventually its too late to go back. To undo.

Financial stability has always been very important for me. Even when I was studying to become a professional, I wanted to get a degree which empowers me to be independent. Financially and otherwise. I cannot imagine what retired parents with limited savings feel especially after being the bread earners for all of their life. My grandparents atleast had retirement pension. That facility is not available to us. We have to make our own investment and retirement plans which go way beyond our children and their needs.

I am at an interesting position right now. Mother to a one year old son and a daughter and a daughter-in-law to two sets of very accomplished parents. I hope for all of us that we do not redeem our financial security against any emotional or psychological requirement of the time. Because ‘Money is a good soldier,sir.’.