Classic Fresh Fruit Tart

It’s summertime and fresh fruit is readily available, so use your favorite fruit as the topping for this perfect summer dessert.

Granted, it may be easier just to go out and buy a tart like this than it is to make one, but what fun is that? Actually, making this tart isn’t as bad as it might look. You can make each component of this tart ahead of time and then pull them together quickly to form the tart. The tart dough can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days while the pastry cream will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator (if you can resist eating it!).

Tart Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Tart Dough
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly
  • 2 cups Pastry Cream
  • 2 pints fresh fruit (strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries)

Tart Instructions:

1. Make the tart dough and pastry cream using the recipes below.

2. Heat the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat until warm.

3. Spread the cooled pastry cream in the tart shell in an even layer. Arrange the fruit over the surface of the pastry cream trying to cover the entire tart so that no cream is visible.

4. Use a pastry brush to coat the fruit very lightly with the warm jelly. Let the glaze set for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. If you are not serving the tart immediately, keep it covered and refrigerated up to 12 hours.

Some recipes use strained apricot or strawberry jam instead of apple jelly. I have tried them all and prefer using the jelly due to the light color and subtle flavor. For the tart picture in this post, I used apricot jam mixed with a little water. Next time I think I will try the tart without the glaze to see how I like it that way.

The tart really needs to be eaten while it is fresh, within 24 hours if possible, so I usually only make this when we have are entertaining. The other option is to make a couple of the small, individual tarts over a 2-3 day period.

Pastry Cream Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar (divided use)
  • 2 cups whole milk (divided use)
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pastry Cream Instructions:

1. Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the mixture, stirring until completely smooth.

2. Prepare an ice bath. Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium head and bring to a boil. Remove pan from the heat.

3. Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding one-third of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining milk mixture to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, vigorously stirring with a whisk, until the mixture comes to a boil, 5-7 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream reaches this stage, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the butter. Transfer pan to the ice bath, stirring occasionally until cool, about 30 minutes.

4. Transfer the pastry cream to a storage container and place waxed paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from developing. Cover and store up to 3 days.

Tart Dough Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting

Tart Dough Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until light in color, about 2 minutes.

3. Add flour and mix on low until just blended, about 30 seconds. The dough should be crumbly when you remove it from the bowl. Gently press the dough into a disk, being careful not to overwork the dough. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 minutes before rolling.

4. Place dough on lightly floured work surface or between sheets of parchment paper. Roll the dough 2 inches larger than the diameter of the tart pan. This recipe will make eight 3-inch tarts or one 8-inch tart.

5. To transfer dough to the tart pan, fold the dough in half and roll it loosely over the rolling pin. Gently lift and position the dough over the tart pan. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and unfold. Using your fingertips, press the dough against the sides and bottom of the pan. Trim the overhang cleanly by rolling over the edge with the rolling pin.

6. Once the dough is in the pan, use a fork to poke holes in the bottom and sides of the dough to keep the dough from puffing while baking. Line pastry with parchment or aluminum foil and add enough pie weights to fill the pan 1/3 to 1/2 full (can use dry beans or rice as well).

7. Bake the pastry for 10 minute in a 400 degree oven. Remove pie weights and continue baking another 6-8 minutes until dough appears evenly dry and the edges are just starting to brown. This is also called blind baking and prevents the crust from becoming soggy when filled. Let crust cool completely before adding chilled fillings.

I used the tart dough and pastry cream recipes from the cookbook Baking at Home from the Culinary Institute of America.

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