Strawberry Tarts with Vanilla Pastry Cream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fresh strawberry tarts with a rich, vanilla bean infused pastry cream!
Recipe type: Dessert
Makes: Four 4" tarts
  • For the tart shells
  • 1 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt, if using unsalted butter
  • ½ cup cold butter, cubed (115 gms)
  • 1 to 2 tbsps ice water
  • Extra flour for sprinkling

  • For the pastry cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ⅛ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ cup cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 400 gms fresh strawberries, chopped and chilled
  1. To make the tart shells, combine the flour, sugar and salt, if using, in a large bowl.

  2. Using your fingertips, rub the cold butter cubes into the flour till the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs with a few larger bits of butter scattered through. These bits are what create a flaky dough.

  3. Add 1 tbsp of ice water and bring the dough together. It will be soft and slightly wet, so sprinkle on a little flour if needed. Add a 2nd tablespoon of water only if absolutely needed.

  4. Form the dough into a rough ball, place on a large piece of clingfilm and pat into a ¾th inch thick disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour. This dough can be chilled or frozen longer, as long as its softened a little before rolling.

  5. While the dough is chilling, make the pastry cream. Combine the milk and half the sugar in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then scrape out the seeds and drop them into the pan, along with the bean itself. Heat this mixture till you start seeing wisps of steam, then turn off the heat, cover and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This lets the vanilla really make its presence felt. If needed, whisk the milk to break up any lumps of vanilla seeds.

  6. Now bring this milk to a complete boil.

  7. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and the cornflour, then mix in the remaining sugar. Now add the yolks and whisk very, very well, until pale yellow. A balloon whisk is recommended here, a spoon or spatula isn't as effective.

  8. Pour the boiling milk, very slowly into the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously as you go to prevent scrambling.

  9. Tip the mixture into a shallow pan and on medium heat, stir constantly with a silicone spatula until it begins to thicken. It will suddenly begin to look scrambled, but it becomes smooth just as suddenly so keep stirring. If the mixture sticks, do not scrape the bottom of the pan. When you begin to see bubbles, turn the heat off. It is important to let the mixture reach this stage so that the flour cooks thoroughly.

  10. Transfer the hot pastry cream to a clean bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. The extract is optional, but I found the pastry cream to remain a little eggy without it. Place a piece of clingfilm directly on the surface of the cream to avoid a skin forming. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least two hours. I found the cream to be a little thicker than I remembered it should have been, but after substantial chilling, the texture and the flavour improved dramatically.

  11. While the pastry cream is chilling, get your tart shells ready. I made four mini or individual-sized tarts. You can also make one large 8" tart. Take the chilled dough out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut in half, if making individual tarts. Place one half back in the fridge.

  12. Flour your counter or preferably, flour a silicone mat. I like using a mat because it doesn't move around and prevents sticking of the dough.

  13. Roll the dough into a ball, flatten and then roll out into a roughly 8" circle. Cut out two circles larger than your mini tart tins. Lift each one and place it in the tin, flattening it and trimming off the edges as needed. Repeat with the remaining dough. Any leftover dough can be frozen for more pie later!

  14. Place the prepared tart tins in the fridge, while you preheat the oven to 200 C. When ready to bake, prick the bottom of each tart shell with a fork, then bake for 15 to 20 mins or until golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.

  15. When ready to assemble the tarts, simply divide the chilled pastry cream evenly between all four tart shells, smoothen it out, the top generously with the chopped strawberries. Serve immediately! These need to be kept refrigerated at all times :)
*Prep-time does not including chilling time

*If you find that the pastry cream has lumps even after cooking, pass it through a sieve, stirring as you go. You can also mix in a little warm milk to thin it out if needed.
Recipe by The Desserted Girl at