These little nuggets of flavour and colour (also known as the woodland strawberry, or Walderdbeere here in Germany, the Alpine strawberry, the European strawberry of fraise des bois to use the French name) are the strawberries indigenous to Europe – the rest are derived from 18th century imports from the Americas.
Seldom if ever available commercially now, they used to be a welcome sight at the markets of old but between me, Hermann the German, Mini-Kraut and the many meadow creatures at home in our orchard I am never left with more than about a handful of wild strawberries – still enough to make these quick and easy cream cheese tartlets though:
I make the pastry shells out of
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
110 g butter
140 g ground almonds, blanched
45 g sugar
- Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
2. Add the ground almonds.Stir in the sugar and add enough beaten egg (probably one whole egg) to just bind the mixture together. Knead lightly. Chill before use.
I then roll it out, stamp into circles and drape these over the inverted hollows of an upside down muffin tin to bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes.
These quantities make about 18 pastry cases.
The cream cheese filling comprises
500 g cream cheese
250 g icing sugar (or to taste)
few drops of vanilla essence (to taste)
Once they have cooled completely, fill the almond pastry cases with about two teaspoons of cream cheese filling each, dot them with your harvest of wild strawberries, dust with icing sugar… and put the kettle on!
I personally don’t like my strawberries baked – only fresh will do for me, but if you do go in for baked strawberries and happen to have access to about half a kilo of wild strawberries then this is for you, taken from a delightful little cookbook translated by yours truly a couple of years ago (details below):
Wild Strawberry Tart
Makes 12 pieces
For the pastry:
100 g chilled butter
200 g flour + extra for the work surface
50 g sugar
Butter for greasing
For the filling:
Approx. 500 g wild strawberries of small strawberries
3-4 tbsp sugar
4 cl light dessert wine (e.g. Malvasier, Vin Santo, Madeira)
To make the pastry, cut the butter into pieces and quickly combine with the flour, sugar and egg yolk to form a smooth dough. Press the dough ball flat, wrap in cling wrap and leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.
Grease a pie dish (28 cm ø). Roll the pastry out thinly on a floured work surface and then line the pie dish. Prick the base with a fork and again leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 °C (fan oven 160 °C). Back the pastry in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, carefully wash and hull the strawberries and then pat dry. Remove the pastry base from the oven and layer the strawberries close together over the base. Sprinkle with sugar and bake in the centre of the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle with the dessert wine and bake again for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the pie dish. Serve either warm or cold, ideally with freshly whipped cream.
Agnes’ tip: strawberry season at last! At the market this morning there was a farmer’s wife with a basket of freshly picked wild strawberries on offer. I snapped them up at once of course and I am going to use them right away to bake this lovely tart. Washing the little berries does mean rather a lot of work but the result is simply heavenly. We are not yet familiar with large strawberries, unfortunately. These plants were only to come to Europe from Chile at the beginning of the 18th century. I actually prefer the small wild strawberries with their tempting flavour anyway. By the way, the little red berries are said to be a symbol of desire. I’ll mention that to Albrecht, perhaps he will then paint a few…
Dürer’s Little Cookbook
Yesterday’s recipes for today’s food lovers
Compiled by Petra Teetz, Translated by Katherine Taylor, Published by ars vivendi verlag
Original edition © 2009 English edition © 2013 www.arsvivendi.com
Considered the greatest painter of the Northern Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) came from Nuremburg where the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus remains as a museum and memorial to the man and his times.
This little cookbook takes a look behind the scenes in the Dürer household with seasonal recipes of the kind that would have been known to Albrecht Dürer’s wife Agnes, adapted for easy cooking in the modern kitchen, a number of them having since become set features of Franconian culinary tradition: Schäufele (Roast Pork Shoulder), Krumme Krapfen (Crooked Fritters) and Storks’ Nests… Accompanied by interesting details about life at that time: what foodstuffs where available to the Nuremburg housewife in around 1500, what were the different meals served during the course of the year, and what were table manners like?