Fresh fruit tarts are the perfect spring or summertime dessert. They’re definitely one of my favourite desserts to make when the weather’s warm. They’re a great way to showcase all the fruit that are in season. These classic tarts are not only delicious, they’re stunning! Isn’t it amazing how a variety of different-coloured fruit can transform a simple tart into such an impressive, eye-popping dessert?!
A fruit tart may look fancy, but the great thing is that the method is actually pretty straightforward and doesn’t involve a lot of complex steps. The base of the fruit tart is the pâte sucrée, or sweet crust pastry, which I use for a lot of my tarts, such as Bakewell Tart and Apple Frangipane Tart. In this case, since the tart will not be baked after assembly, the sweet crust base needs to be blind baked first.
Once cooled, the tart shell is filled with crème pâtissière, or vanilla pastry cream. Made of milk, sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks, this versatile pastry cream is used as a filling in many desserts and pastries. Most people probably refer to it as “custard”. You’ll find it in trifles, cakes, profiteroles and eclairs, and and it makes a simple and tasty dessert when eaten as a pudding, with just fresh fruit and whipped cream.
I would suggest assembling your tart the day of, in order to prevent the crust from getting soggy. But if that’s not possible, a great little tip is to melt a bit of white chocolate and then brush a thin layer over the base of the baked crust. Once it hardens, the chocolate forms a protective barrier before the pastry cream is added. This step is totally optional, but I would recommend it if you have to assemble your tart the day before. Honestly though, I’ve never experienced a really soggy tart (maybe a little softer, yes), even if I have leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days…so I’ll leave the decision to you!
The final step is placing the fruit on top. I’ve been seeing berries everywhere, so I bought some strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries specially to make this tart. But you can use any fruit that you like. Depending on what kind of fruit you use, you may want to slice them up. You can then arrange them in a decorative pattern. Or, go for the no-fuss look like I did, which also looks really pretty and saves a bit of time too!
You may choose to add a glaze on top of the fruit, if you want a shiny tart like the ones you see in a bakery. If you’re using sliced fruit, you definitely want to glaze it, as it also helps to preserve the freshness of the fruit. Since I was going for more of a casual presentation this time, I thought it would actually look better without a glaze.
Now, are you ready to bite into a buttery, crispy, crumbly tart, full of smooth, creamy vanilla goodness, and bursting with juicy fruit?!
FRUIT TART (Makes 1 – 8″ tart)
Sweet Crust Pastry:
135g flour, sifted
90g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 small egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of lemon zest
250 ml milk
50 g sugar
20 g corn starch
1 egg yolk
1/4 of a vanilla bean (or 1/4 Tbsp vanilla bean paste)
Choice of fruit
1/4 cup apricot jam
To make the pastry:
1) Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on slow speed until well blended and no lumps remain. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2) Add in egg yolk, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Mix on low speed, scraping down the sides, until well blended.
3) Add in the flour. Continue to mix on low speed until just combined. Do not overwork.
4) Using your hands, bring the dough together to form a ball.
5) Shape dough into a flat, round disk. Wrap well with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
To make the pastry cream:
1) Pour about 3/4 of the milk into a pot, slit open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pot (or add vanilla bean paste).
2) In a medium bowl, combine cornstarch and sugar. Then add egg yolk and the remaining milk. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.
3) Heat milk over medium-high heat. When it simmers, pour half into the bowl of cornstarch/sugar/egg yolk/milk mixture, while whisking constantly. Whisk well, then pour the mixture back into the pot. Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat. Continue whisking vigorously and the mixture will quickly start thickening. Once it thickens, continue whisking until the mixture bubbles.
4) Remove from heat, pour into a heat-proof bowl,. Using the whisk attachment of a hand or stand mixer, whisk on high speed until it cools to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is in contact with the pastry cream to prevent a skin forming. Set aside.
Making and assembling the tart:
1) Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
2) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thickness. To transfer, roll the dough carefully back onto the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over an 8″ tart tin with removable bottom. Shape the dough by pressing it into the tart tin. Use a knife to cut off the excess dough. Dock the pastry by pricking all over the base with a fork, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3) Bake the tart shell for 15-20 minutes until golden. Place on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
4) Give the pastry cream a good stir before using. Fill the cooled tart shell with pastry cream, and spread it out evenly over the base of the tart.
5) Arrange fruit on top.
6) (Optional) Heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat, just until it becomes liquid. Then pour through a sieve placed over a small bowl. Using the back of a spoon, push through any remaining liquid (discard the leftover fruit pieces). Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of jam over the fruit.