Use the juiciest, sweetest strawberries you can find to crown this elegant tart filled with rich pastry cream.
- 1 1⁄2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
- 9 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 lb. 4 oz. strawberries, hulled
- 3⁄4 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 large egg yolks
In a large bowl, sift 1½ cups flour, the salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Using a pastry blender or fork, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons ice water and continue working the mixture just until it forms a shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, press into a 1-inch-thick disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. In a large bowl, add the strawberries, sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar, and toss gently to coat. Set aside to macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a medium pot over medium heat, add the milk and vanilla bean; bring to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining ¼ cup sugar, and the remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Quickly whisk in ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture, then quickly and vigorously whisk the egg yolk-milk mixture back into the pot of remaining milk. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot constantly, until the mixture is very thick and the flour no longer tastes raw, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, force the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer set over a heat-resistant bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool to room temperature.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and rolling pin and retrieve the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out to an even 12-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, tucking any overhang down to reinforce the sides. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Line the dough with foil, fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake until the dough appears dry, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil; continue baking until cooked through and very lightly golden, 8–10 minutes more. Let cool completely, then unmold and transfer to a wide, flat platter.
Just before serving, pour any accumulated strawberry juices into the pastry cream and whisk until combined. Spread the pastry cream evenly in the tart shell and smooth the surface with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Arrange the strawberries upright on top, then cut into wedges and serve immediately.