Strawberry tart

A distinctly Gallic take on a classic English combination of strawberries and cream

“I don’t think you will find this type of pastry anywhere in London,” says Karim, holding the tart aloft and gesturing admiringly. “It is French,” he continues, proudly. Sure enough, the pastry on Comptoir Gourmand’s strawberry tart is less crisp pastry, more moist, buttery sponge. A certain baker of renown might cry soggy bottom—and she’d be right, but in the best possible way, as we are about to discover. “It is like the bottom of a British custard tart—but better,” Karim adds quickly, ever loyal to his home country. “It is really nice when you use a spoon and fork to mix up the crème pâtissière and strawberries and base.”

A buttery cushion
The base, weighed down by its crown of strawberry-studded crème pâtissière, is densely gooey on top, while retaining some fluffiness at the bottom. Mix it in, and the juice of the berries, the sticky crème, the aroma of vanilla and the buttery cushion of spongey pastry mingle and marry and meld. The result could be described as a Parisian mess, were such a thing conceivable—an Eton mess but with Gallic taste and sophistication—but since when did the French mess around with patisserie?