Butter, Lard & Shortening, and A Strawberry Tart Revisited
Now that “fat is back”, I have been using a variety of fats, beside butter, which include lard, tallow and coconut oil. Lard is rendered from the fat of a pig, but can also come from chicken, duck or goose fat. The best lard comes from around the kidneys and the back of the pig and is least “porky” tasting. Tallow comes from beef fat and like lard, the best fat comes from the heart & kidneys, which is known in its raw form as suet. Rendering my own lard is something I haven’t tried yet but you can learn how here. And strawberry tart? – Don’t worry I’m getting there…
Incidentally, shortening is made out of cooking oil such as soy-bean and canola oils, and is high in trans fats and should be given a wide berth. Copha comes under this category and despite being made from coconut oil, copha is hydrogenated and really bad news.
In my mind there is no substitute for butter! Nothing surpasses the flavour, texture and baking capabilities. Pure home-made butter is truly the best. But if you are strictly dairy-free or vegan it is off the menu. And strawberry tart? – yeah, yeah, I’m getting there…
Pastry is a difficult thing to achieve in the gluten-free-sphere. Just like bread, there are imitations of the real thing that don’t quite hit the mark. But that is something a primal foodie just has to accept and sometimes close enough is good enough rather than miss out.
As our grandmothers knew, pastry made with lard creates a flaky and crisp shell and has less shrinkage than a butter pastry. It also browns more slowly. If you use a combination of butter and lard, you get the best of both worlds, a dough with great flavour and texture, which brings us to my strawberry tart! Yippee!
I love a good tart. See here, here and here. In a previous recipe, I made a strawberry tart with a traditional dairy crème patisserie and butter pastry. I have used lard instead of butter in this pastry, to keep it dairy-free. French pastry purists will be aghast, but roll with me here. A traditional all butter pastry yields the best flavour, in my opinion, but it can be tricky to use. Especially in my warm climate in Queensland – I store my lard & butter in the freezer when making pastry. In this recipe I have added some ground almonds to add some flavour.
But the highlight of this recipe,
in my opinion!, is the custard cream filling. Make this and just eat it by the spoonful out of the Thermomix bowl. Fight your kids for it. Hide it from your husband. It has a little bit of butter which can be replaced with (refined*) coconut oil if you are strictly dairy-free and it is sooooooo good. If you can avoid the temptation, it really is best the next day when it has become quite cold and the flavours have melded.
Now for the strawberry tart:Pastry Shell 3 tabs coconut sugar 1 lemon, rind only 240g GF flour mix 1/2 teas xantham gum or guar gum 60g blanched almond flour 130g lard, frozen preferably 2 small eggs Mill the sugar & rind on SP 9 for 10 seconds. Add the flour & lard and mix on SP 6 for 5 seconds. Add egg and mix on SP 6 until just forming crumbs. There is no need to rest this pastry (no gluten) but after rolling out and lining a tart tin, freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes in a moderate oven or until golden. (Dairy-free) Custard Crème 400g almond milk 70g coconut sugar (I used Natvia) 1 teas honey (optional) 1/4 teas vanilla bean powder 45g maize cornflour pinch salt 3 eggs 80g butter or ghee or coconut oil 30g sherry or brandy 150g coconut yoghurt In the TM, place all of the ingredients except the yoghurt and cook for 8 minutes, 100C SP 4.
When completely cold, return the custard back to the TM and mix in the yoghurt on SP 4 until well combined.Glaze 80g cranberry or blackcurrant juice 1 teas gelatine 1 tab water In the TM add water and sprinkle over gelatine and let sit for 5 minutes to gel. Add juice and heat on 70⁰C, SP 2, 1 minute to dissolve. Cool before brushing over your fruit tart.
100g dairy-free chocolate, melted
fresh fruit, sliced to decorate
I like to coat the shell in melted chocolate – this adds an interesting dimension and also prevents the crust from becoming soggy with the custard filling.
Fill the cooled tart shell with an even layer of custard cream and garnish with sliced fruit. Brush over the cooled glaze and refrigerate until set.
*Refined coconut oil has a milder flavour.