Guest Post by Julia Taylor of MasterChef Australia

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but every day should be V-day, right? Especially when food is such an expression of love... So here is a dish full of love by the Dessert Queen herself – Julia Taylor, runner-up MasterChef Australia 2012!

After the series finale, I had interviewed Julia for this blog and this time she has graciously agreed to take time out of her busy schedule and do a guest post for us. Read on and find out what Julia has been up to since MasterChef. She has also shared a recipe for a gorgeous Strawberry Tart. And that’s not all. At the end of the post is a link to another recipe on her website – a delectable Red Velvet and Ristretto Layer Cake. Now, over to Julia...



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It’s been a seven months since MasterChef finished and I’ve been lucky enough to have cooked my way across some of the best kitchens in Australia. Places like Burch & Purchese, The Press Club and Albert Street Food & Wine in Melbourne, food and wine festivals across the country and finally at Zumbo Patisserie in Sydney. I was even lucky enough to accompany George Calombaris and his chefs to the Atlantis Hotel, Dubai where we cooked for anywhere between 80 and 400 guests – it was like a week-long MasterChef challenge and so much fun!

I’m currently mid-way through my apprenticeship at Zumbo, studying on scholarship at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney at the same time. So whilst I spend every day making complex mousses and jellies, there’s always a place in my heart and my down-time baking for simple classics. Here’s the recipe for my favourite tart, topped with the freshest of summer strawberries. Adapt the fruit to your season and enjoy.

Julia x


Summer Strawberry Tart

ALMOND PASTRY
In an electric mixer, cream the butter and add the remaining ingredients one at a time. Bring together to form a disc of dough, flatten slightly and wrap in clingwrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 30minutes and roll out to 3-5mm thick. Line a 30cm fluted tart tin with it, trimming the edges. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and chill in the fridge for 30minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Place a sheet of baking paper onto the tart surface and cover with dry rice, beans or baking beads. This will weigh the surface down and stop the pastry from rising in the oven. Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden, then remove the baking paper and rice and bake a further 5-8 minutes or until golden. Cool and set aside.

PASTRY CREAM
Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the milk. Bring milk up to the boil and set aside to infuse with the vanilla seeds and pod. In a bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until pale, and then incorporate the cornflour. Bring the milk back up to simmer and pour ¼ onto the yolks, whisking quickly. Add another quarter of the milk, whisk; add the remaining milk. Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring up to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. When thickened, remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Stir through the butter and chill in the fridge, with clingwrap placed directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin forming.  In a separate bowl, whip the 300ml cream to soft peaks and set aside. Lightly whisk the chilled pastry cream and then fold through the whipped cream gently.

TO ASSEMBLE
Place the pre-baked tart shell on a cake stand or plate. Lightly spoon in the pastry cream and smooth the surface so it is level with the edges. Slice strawberries and arrange on the pastry cream. You can brush the strawberries with a little melted strawberry or apricot jam if desired, or dust with icing sugar.

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And now for Julia’s special V-day recipe – Red Velvet and Ristretto Layer Cake – click here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post. Let me know what you think. Until later.

All images courtesy http://juliataylor.com.au/

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