In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar for just a minute until well combined. Add the vanilla extract, salt, and egg yolk - and combine well.Tip - do not overmix the butter and sugar, as we do not want to add too much air to it
Finally, add the flour and combine well. Make a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours or until firm enough to roll.Tip - Time permitting chill the dough overnight it works best.
Roll the dough on a lightly dusted work surface. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Press into the pan with your fingers then trim the excess dough at the edges with a rolling pin, or your thumb. Chill the tart shell for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the edges are lightly starting to brown. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Continue to bake the crust without pie weights for a further 10 to 12 minutes. Or until the center is golden.Tip - if the edges start to get too dark, cover the edges with foil or a pie shield
Cool completely at room temperature then place the tart shell in the freezer for an hour.Tip - We freeze the tart so that the panna cotta does not soak in the shell but almost sets when it hits the cold surface.
Pulse the strawberries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh or sieve to remove seeds. Use the amount requested in this recipe.
In a bowl, add the milk and sprinkle gelatin over the cold milk. Stir and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes.Tip - if you let the gelatin bloom/soak it will dissolve easily with a smoother consistency rather than grainy
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the cream and sugar until sugar dissolves and cream comes to an almost boil.
Add the vanilla extract and the soaked gelatin milk. Continue to cook until the gelatin is all dissolved and the mixture is well heated thru.
Take the mixture off the heat and add the strawberry puree. Sieve the mixture thru a mesh Tip - straining will remove any undissolved gelatin or remaining strawberry seeds.
Let cool for five minutes. Then, gently pour the mixture into the cooled/partially frozen tart shell.Tip - I prefer to pour over the back of a spoon for a gentle pour. That way you won't get any crumbs from the tart into the panna cotta mixture.
Carefully place the tart in the fridge (not freezer) and chill for at least 4 hours until the pannacotta is set.Tip - If you keep the tart shell in its pan on a baking tray it is easier to move around and prevent accidents.
Decorate with fresh cut strawberries ( I also added some blackberries for contrast)
For homemade pastry keep the pastry chilled at all times. The chilled pastry will roll beautifully and not shrink during baking.
Also, the shortcrust pastry should be rolled thin so you have enough space for filling. Thick pastry when cut, is like a thick biscuit with very little filling.
And, do not skip pre-baking the tart. Prebaking the shell ensures the pastry is partially cooked before you add the delicate filling to the tart. The result is a much crisp beautiful crust.
Cover the edges of the tart if it starts to brown too much. You can use a pie shield or aluminum foil over the edges.
Serving - Panna Cotta is best served cold. So, you must chill the tart for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours for the gelatin to set. After that, you can keep it at room temperature for an hour or so depending on the weather. Gelatin will start to soften at warm, room temperature. Hence, it's best to bring the tart out close to serving time.
Cooling the tart shell - The cream mixture must be poured into the tart slightly cooled but while it is still in liquid form. If you wait too long, the gelatin will start to set in the saucepan. If that happens gently reheat the mixture until it's warm and liquidy again.
Eggless panna cotta - Yes, you can if you use agar-agar instead of gelatin. Agar-agar is a vegetarian substitute made from seaweed and more potent than gelatin. You will need 2 tsp agar flakes for every cup of liquid so in this cake 3 tsp of agar flakes can be used. Also, unlike gelatin, agar must be boiled until thickened. So add it to the cream and milk mixture and bring to a boil over medium-low heat until thickened (about 5 minutes).