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Wild strawberry cake by Vallayer Coster

Wild strawberry cake by Vallayer Coster

This is an icon of Western painting that combines a composition of great geometric simplicity, exceptional quality of creation and rarity of subject. It was exhibited by the artist at the Salon of 1761. It is one of the most famous images of the French 18th century. It was sold in 2022 for 24 million to the Smithsonian. We think everybody knows or should know Anne Vallayer Coster (1744-1818).

The Basket of Plums (Louvre) and the Glass of Water and the Coffee Pot (Carnegie Institute of Art Pittsburgh) are by the same painter. And the precision of his geometric compositions was seen again in the 20th century in the work of Cézanne, Morandi, through Wayne Thiebaud. It inspired us to create a perfectly symmetrical tart with strawberries and a strawberry coulis.

Shortcake with wild strawberries

Start with the shortcake dough. Beat the 4 egg yolks with 120 grams of sugar until thick and creamy. Then gradually beat in 120 grams of butter. Sift 170 grams of flour together with the baking powder and mix it in. Knead the mass into a soft dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

On a floured board, roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. Cut out 6 rounds with a diameter of 12 cm; Re-roll the dough if necessary. Use a saucer as a template. Place the rounds on a non-stick baking tray or a baking tray lined with baking paper and prick them a few times with a fork. Make a slight indentation in the center and pinch the edges up slightly if desired. Place the dough rounds in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the rounds with a little sugar and bake for 12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Leave them on the baking tray for a minute to firm up and then use a palette knife to slide them onto a cake rack to cool and crisp up.

Make a coulis from the large strawberries, adding sugar to taste plus a squeeze of lemon juice and the whipped cream. Just before serving, spoon the strawberry coulis into the center of the shortbreads and arrange the wild strawberries along the edge. Serve the shortcakes with sweetened, lightly whipped cream.

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