There are a few simple pleasures in life, for mine in particular, would be eating desserts. I would love to have a picnic every so often with a basket full of roasted tomato sandwich, sausage rolls, berry tarts, cheese and crackers, and a bottle or two of wine (sweet or bubbly). However, the weather (and security) here doesn’t permit so I shall enjoy such luxury at the vicinity of my house. That’s not going to stop me from enjoying the little things in life 😉
Ok I’m gonna be honest, I don’t have a basket or mat, neither do I have a roasted tomato sandwich but I have these gorgeous strawberry tartlets and wine for this scorching hot weather.
These tartlets are made with a easy pâte sucrée; a sweet shortcrust pastry, filled with a smooth vanilla crème pâtissière (pastry cream) and fresh strawberries with a dust of icing sugar. If you don’t like strawberries, it can go with other berries or even poached pear if you prefer. And so flexible it is, you it can be made into a bigger tart, a medium sized tart, or mini bite size tartlets. It’s one of the basic recipes that one should have in their recipe ‘cabinet’.
The recipe consist of 2 parts, if you must, you can prepare the dough and pastry cream a day before. That will give the cream ample of time to set.
To go with these strawberry tarts, I have a Chateau Les Arroucats, St Croix Du Mont to pair with it from Wine Talk. Come’on, if you’ve gotta pretend you’re in a picnic, you have to have a wine to seal the deal. No? French wine and french pastry cream; hehe Chateau Les Arroucats, a sweet wine from St Croix Du Mont, France and has a composition of grapes: 85% Semillon, 12% Sauvignon, 3% Muscadelle. Offering a superb, golden colour and a subtle bouquet with lovely intensity and elegant hints of apricot and pear, it shows plenty of roundness on the palate, well-balanced tannins, with fruity, honey flavours. Perfect as an aperitif, with foie gras, melon, blue cheese or fruits based desserts. With its fruity, honey flavours, this sweet wine makes a great pair with these strawberry tartlets.
- 220g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 150g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons ice water
- 3 egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 250ml milk
- 10g butter
- 1 punnet strawberries
- icing sugar
- Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and 50ml milk till thick. Add in corn starch and whisk the slurry.
- In a pot, add in the remaining milk and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and pour the milk in a slow stream on to the egg slurry, whisking all the time.
- Return the mixture to the pot and continue to whisk over a low-medium heat. The cream will start to thicken. Once it releases a bubble or two, take it off the heat. Add in butter and stir till it has melted.
- Pour onto a tray lined with cling film. Cover with cling film (pat the cling film so it sticks directly on to the cream and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using.
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse few times to combine. Add the butter pieces. Blend the fat and flour until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Or, instead of the food processor, rub cold butter and flour with your fingers till it resembles the texture of course breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and process continuously until the dough begins to clump together. Do not over-process; the dough should not form a ball. If using hand to mix, add in 2 tbsp of water then fold the dough. It may or may not need the 3rd tbsp.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick wide disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes.
- Place unwrapped dough on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 3mm thickness.
- Cut out and gently press the dough into the tart shells. Roll the pin over the top of the 3½" tart shells to trim off the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough in each pan with a fork. Refrigerate the dough in the pans for 20 minutes to firm up the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 175°C. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till it is golden brown. Transfer the tartlet shells to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Pour creme patisserie out into a bowl, use a whisk and loosen the mixture by whisking it. Scoop it out into a piping bag. Fill the tart shells with creme patisserie. Arrange with freshly cut strawberries and a spinkle of icing sugar.
These tarts are perfect for a afternoon tea, a school party or even for weddings’ dessert table, or you don’t actually need a reason to eat strawberry tart, do you? With dessert tables all in trend now for weddings and birthday parties, it may seem a little overwhelming if you are planning for your own (or making the products yourself! that’s cray cray) The thing with parties and such is that, there’s A LOT of planning and things CAN go wrong. I mean, what if the cream starts to melt, or your balloons aren’t exactly the colour you want, or that there aren’t enough food or drinks for your guests (horror!).
If you have a party and you are looking to serve wines but have no idea where to start from or how many bottles should you order, you should check out Wine Talk where it’s sommelier team, headed by French sommelier, David Stephan, will provide you the best recommendations based on your tastes, preferences and price range.
Wine Talk is an online wine delivery service where you can easily order wines via http://www.winetalk.com.my or via call to 1300 88 9788. Choose from over 400 labels of red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, champagne, rosé wine, even non-alcoholic wine, and have them delivered to you home, office, wedding venue or any location within Peninsular Malaysia.
If you are a fan of wine, they also have a subscription service called Wine Club where members will receive wine cases on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, delivered straight to your home. But not just any wines, they are great value wines and handpicked by David based on your preference; popular labels and also fun discoveries. It comes with a personalized booklet that details the history of the winery, grape varietals, tasting notes, food pairing and more; only for RM 454 for 6 bottles and RM835 for 12 bottles with FREE delivery included.
There’s a quote that says “Wine makes every meal an occassion, every table more elegant and every day more civilized” 😉
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What an interesting neighbourhood. I came to know about Newtown when I wanted to try Black Star Pastry’s Watermelon and Strawberry Cake. Usually when I travel, when there’s somewhere I want to visit in a neighbourhood, I will try to search what else there I should check out. Are there worthy brunch places to check out, or are there some awesome coffee, or will there be quirky shops with collectibles? So I came to find that Newtown has alot of organic or specialty ingredients (specific dietary requirements) whole food stores, coffee and burger places and artsy vintage shops selling 70s design clothings and wall arts.
If you make a trip there, here’s what you can check out; having said that, it’s my first time in Newtown and I suppose my discovery was quite good. haha. Local Sydneysiders may think otherwise or have better places to offer ??
3 places; Brewtown Newtown, Black Star Pastry and Campos Coffee.
Brewtown; a micro roastery/brew bar that offers brunch, creative pastries and Gnome Coffee Merchants roasted beans in a spacious, trendy cafe with industrial-chic decor. If you want to opt for something healthier, opt for the green juice with consist of kale, green apple, celery and ginger. Menu has a variety of brunch food, sandwiches, burgers, salad, pasta with a little Middle Eastern influence on some. Baked polenta with mushrooms, grilled asparagus, poached egg & parmesan, Quinoa and chickpea falafel with mushrooms, asparagus and house relish, Wood smoked salmon, curried Israeli couscous, poached egg, coriander, lime are just some of the items offered.
Some ingredients on the menu changes according to availability, but you get the gist.
Dukkah roasted Japanese Pumpkin, poached chicken with quinoa, broad bean, feta , truffle hazelnut dressing, and frisee ($14) and a latte ($3.50)
I really enjoyed this dish as it was packed with flavours, nutty and sweet from the pumpkin, the poached chicken was still moist and juice, feta was very creamy (unlike the usual cubed ones ?). It’s just one of those happy and guilt free food. I had this for brunch on my second day in Sydney and couldn’t be happier.
It was just me, my food and my coffee and the adventure that awaits. Just can’t help to feel so optimistic and happy in the beginning of the trip.
Upstairs from Brewtown, Newtown is an expertly curated retail space by the name of O’Connell Street Merchants where you’d find very imaginable knick-knack, from intricate terrarium creations by Candle of Vision to ceramics by Samantha Robinson, and from homewares to pet fashions.
After brunch, I walked along the street, checked out some stores which are pretty interesting.
It’s a whole food ingredients store with some organic ingredients, nuts, coffee, oil, spices etc etc. It’s rather interesting because it is packaging-less. Well not everything is packaging less but some of the seeds, spices, nuts and oils are. I find it rather great because I myself have different oils and vinegar to dress certain salads, make different dressing and such but because it doesn’t use alot, I always end up with alot of half-full bottles here and there. All you need to do is to bring in your container or mason jar, and fill up with however much you need. This way, you get fresher ingredients, possibly save some money and storage spaces. Oh you also do your part in saving the environment cause you are using one less plastic 😉
Then I went on to Black Star Pastry which is just 2 mins walk away from the train station. It’s a TINY shop, but they have seatings next door. It’s a self-service store so order and pay at the counter. Most popular item, the Watermelon and Strawberry gluten free cake which you have to try. They also have some pastries, muffins and coffee (but I heard the coffee wasn’t that great). Read my previous post here.
For coffee options, there’s another place which you could check out. I went back to Newtown again a week later and checked out Campos (A friend from Melbourne told me it’s rather popular home grown brand)
I only had a coffee as I just had some heavy Indonesian food prior. Choices of small gluten-free cakes are available at the counter. Very cute and dainty if you are after a small bite to go with your coffee. The shop is filled with patrons opting for coffee to-go on a busy busy work day.
These people are serious about their coffee offering beans from Columbia to Indonesia, from Kenya to Papua New Guinea and coffee cupping. Cupping is a basic method of tasting coffee which is standard across the world. Whether it be Guatemala, Canada, Indonesia, London, Mexico, Kenya – everyone uses this same procedure which is almost a ritual. 5oz of water at 92 degrees is added to 10g of coffee coarsely ground. The coffee then steeps for 5 minutes and then the grinds removed- and the coffee is ready to be analyzed. If you are a coffee connoisseur, you could try it out at $30 per person (which includes a take home coffee pack).
6-8 O’Connell St, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia
8am – 4pm 7 Days
O’Connell Street Merchant
Thu to Fri 10am–5pm
Black Star Pastry
277 Australia St, Newtown, NSW, 9557 8656.
7am – 5pm 7 Days
Ok. title says it all.
I’m not sure how I came about know this cake or when (must be long time ago), but because it looks gorgeous, and it has a whole slice of watermelon in it, I was very intrigued. The thing about watermelon is that because it is a fruit with high content of water, it will seep and make everything else watery. I tried using watermelon balls as a topping on top of a tart, and covered with a glaze. It was alright and didn’t seep much. But it was because it’s a topping and it is partially exposed, making it less watery. But to use in the middle of a cake….
There’s 2 solutions
1. The watermelon is cut and sliced, then left in the fridge (to dry) for absorb away some of the juices.
2. The watermelon cake sells so fast that it doesn’t give any chance for the watermelon to seep.
So, I actually visited Black Star Pastry twice in the span of a week. The first was by myself and the second was with some friends. So the verdict was; it’s a very nice and delicate cake. However I cannot be sure about the consistency. The first visit, on a weekday, the cake had a very noticeable rosewater taste on its dacquoise and the dacquoise was more well soaked thru. On my second visit (On a busier day with a very long queue), the rosewater was very faint and the dacquoise was slight crunchier and nuttier in taste. I can’t say which version I would prefer but if you give me one without the other, I would still love it. Back to the comment #2 (above), because the cake was moving so fast, I’m guessing the soaking of dacquoise with syrup was done hastily, thus probably missing some parts.
But it is still a really delicious cake that I should make it again at home.
I also tried another chocolate cake they had in the shop but, really, you just cannot say no to this Watermelon & Strawberry Cake. If this is your first time visit to Sydney (or even after many times) and you want something refreshing, gluten free, light and delicate, you should come try this cake.
Black Star Pastry
277 Australia St, Newtown, NSW, 9557 8656.
7am – 5pm 7 Days
C1 85-113 Dunning Ave, Rosebery, NSW, 9700 7686
8am – 3pm Weekdays. Weekend trading hours 8am-4pm
Power House Museum (Popping up until July 2015)
500 Harris St, Ultimo NSW
8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. 9am to 5pm weekend trading hours