Strawberries and Cream Tartlettes

The hints of orange & spice are a perfect taste counterpoint in these seasonal canapés. I’ve suggested making strawberry compote, but you could of course use your favourite shop-bought jam to make it even easier.

Adding a whipped cream garnish makes these the perfect bite-sized British summertime treats.

Makes: 36 canapé-sized tartlettes (see Kit footnotes for larger sizes)

For the GF sweet shortcrust pastry:

  • 90g gluten-free plain flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
  • 25g polenta (fine cornmeal)
  • Heaped 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (without this, the pastry is just too short & crumbly to work with)
  • 75g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 25g white caster sugar
  • 2 scrubbed small oranges, all of finely grated zest (dried; see Zest footnotes):
    – 1/3 for pastry
    – 2/3 for decoration

    – and all of juice/pulp reserved for compote
  • 1 small egg (less than 50g when weighed in its shell), beaten and chilled

For the strawberry compote:
[This makes more than you need for the tartlettes – enjoy the rest on toast!]

  • 2 small oranges: juice/pulp only (see Pastry Ingredients)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon: finely grated zest, and juice
  • 2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of cornflour (or arrowroot powder)
  • 600g fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into smallish chunks
  • 3 heaped dessert spoonfuls of soft brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (or 3 seconds’ grating of fresh nutmeg)
  • Quick grind of pink or rainbow peppercorns (black will do as a substitute)

For the whipped cream:

  • 300ml double cream (310g if weighing)
  • 30g icing sugar (approx 3 heaped dessert spoonfuls)

For the garnish:

  • 2 small oranges: 2/3 of dried grated zest only (see Pastry Ingredients)
  • 12-15 small strawberries, thinly sliced


  • A 24-hole non-stick canapé tin with 1″ diameter holes (see Kit footnotes for other tins)
  • 2 mixing bowls, 1 large and 1 medium; plus a small bowl for beaten egg
  • Clingfilm
  • Rolling pin
  • A 5cm (2″) round pastry cutter; fluted if you have it
  • Cooling rack
  • A small, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • A chopping board and sharp knife
  • A manual (i.e. balloon) whisk
  • Electric mixer (hand-held, or stand) to whip the cream
  • Piping bag and small decorative nozzle
  • Serving platter or tray

Making the pastry:

  1. Manually mix the flour, polenta, and gum with a fork in a medium bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and dried orange zest (see Zest footnote), and stir well.
  2. Add 1/4 of the beaten egg and squish with your hands until you can bring the pastry together into a ball. You want pastry that isn’t too wet – a too-wet pastry will be tough and shrink in the oven, so err on the side of ‘it feels just slightly too dry’. If it’s just too crumbly to hold together, add additional egg a drop or so at a time.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and your hands, and gently knead the dough for a few minutes until it feels more silky-smooth. Make a ball and flatten it into a thick disc, then wrap in clingfilm and put into the fridge for at least 1 hour (or overnight – see Timings footnote).
  4. Preheat your oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted) and remove the pastry from the fridge; leave it to warm up about 5 minutes.
  5. Flour your work surface and a rolling pin, and roll out the pastry to 1/2 cm (1/4″) in depth. Using a 5cm cutter, punch out 36 discs (re-roll all scraps as necessary). Poke 24 discs into the holes of the canapé tin (mine came with a wooden dowel, perfect for this job – just dust it lightly with flour). Set aside the remaining 12 discs.
  6. Prick each tartlette base lightly with a fork, and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned (don’t forget to turn the tin after 6-7 minutes for even baking). Take the tin from the oven and remove each tartlette casing to a cooling rack. Let the tin cool for 10 minutes, wipe clean, then load up with the last 12 discs and bake.

Making the strawberry compote:

  1. Heat the orange juice and lemon zest/juice in a saucepan on the hob to boiling, then briskly whisk in the cornflour until fully dissolved.
  2. Add all remaining compote ingredients (reserve about 100g chopped strawberries), and bring back to the boil for 5 minutes, constantly stirring. Reduce the heat to low – ideally, move the pot to the lowest heat on the smallest ring – and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or so, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat when it’s reduced to a jam-like consistency (it will thicken further when chilled).
  3. Add the additional chopped strawberries and stir well. Pour into a small container and allow to cool (ideally, then put it into the fridge overnight – see Timings footnote).

Making the whipped cream:

  1. Manually mix the icing sugar and double cream in a large mixing bowl. Using electric beaters, whisk to stiff peaks – i.e. you could turn the bowl over your head without consequences.
  2. Put the cream into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle.


  1. Put the cooled pastry cases onto a serving platter or tray.
  2. Spoon 1-2 tsp cold strawberry compote into each tartlette casing, heaping it in.
  3. Pipe the whipped cream on top.
  4. Garnish each tartlette with a pinch of dried orange zest and a strawberry slice.

Different Kit
This recipe as written does require specialised kit, but it could be easily adapted for a standard 12-hole muffin or bun tin – simply increase the pastry disc size and baking time. You should get 10-12 larger tarts from this recipe. You’ll want to lightly grease your muffin tin holes if your pan is not non-stick; and using the end of your rolling pin will help you place each pastry disc in the muffin tin holes.

Also, you’d do well to line larger tarts with a square of baking paper and blind-bake with baking beads/beans to avoid puffing up.

It’s easier to make these tartlettes if you start the night before: Make the pastry (Steps 1-3) and strawberry compote, and leave both in the fridge overnight. The next day, simply roll out and cut/bake the pastry, whip the cream, and assemble.

Dried Orange Zest
Orange zest, when freshly grated, is quite wet. This affects the pastry texture, and doesn’t sprinkle at all well for a garnish. My tips: Put the grated orange zest on an oven-safe plate, then place in your oven on the very lowest heat for 20 minutes until dried. Crush in a mortar & pestle into a powder. This not only concentrates the orange flavour, but it also keeps the pastry from being too wet, and allows a perfect sprinkle for the garnish.

Use 1/3 of the zest for the pastry, and the rest for the garnish.

The pastry is from my Dark Chocolate & Cherry Canapés recipe.

The strawberry compote is a composite of the cherry compote from that recipe and my Strawberry & Kiwi Jam.


Let me know what you think ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s