The last time I made a fruit tart, it was for my parents’ dinner party. Eager to impress my family friends, I spent many hours over 3 days baking the perfect tart shell, meticulously cutting up the fruits, and making sure I whisked up the smoothest custard. Shockingly, I found that my efforts were disappointingly rejected when I went home and discovered the beautiful, colourful fruit tart had remained untouched in the fridge. Scarred by that memory and fearing the rejection again, I haven’t made a fruit tart since.
After many years, I decided to tackle this fruit tart again. My motivation came from the fact that I was getting a little bit tired of desserts that are chocolate-based, and would like a little more fruit freshness in the sweet treats for myself at the end of the day. In addition, my significant other is also a fan of fruit-based desserts, which is great, because there is for sure someone who would appreciate the tart after all the hard work and details to put it together.
Always being careful to eat a healthy diet, I opted for a pastry tart shell that is a plain pastry tart, and not a sweet shortcrust pastry, because I think that the custard and fruit is already sweet enough to compensate for it. This tart shell could also be used for making quiche.
STRAWBERRY FRUIT TART (makes one 9-inch tart)
- Milk – 500mL
- Sugar – 1/2 cup
- Corn starch – 1/3 cup
- 2 eggs – whisked
- Pure vanilla extract – 2 tablespoons
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together. Set aside.
- Heat up milk and sugar until it comes to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to avoid the milk from boiling over.
- Slowly add 1/4 of the heated milk to the whisked eggs, stirring the eggs constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. This stage is called tempering the eggs, so you don’t end up cooking the eggs when adding it to the hot milk in Step 4.
- Slowly add the egg and milk mixture from step 3 back into the remaining hot milk in the pot, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs and to ensure there are no lumps in the custard.
- Put the pot back on the stove at medium low heat. Sprinkle in the corn starch, and as the mixture is heating, whisk constantly (and more vigourously as the mixture gets thicker) until it starts to thicken. It is ready when, if you dip a spatula into the custard, bring it out, and run a mark (with a spoon, not your finger, so you don’t burn yourself) on the back of the spatula and the mark stays and the custard does not merge back together.
- Pour the custard into a non-reactive bowl and cover it with saran wrap. The saran wrap should touch the top of the custard to prevent the custard forming a film as it cools. Place the custard in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until entirely cooled. I like to leave it overnight to ensure that it is thoroughly chilled.
Note for the custard: If you like to make sure the custard is smooth, you could also run it through a fine mesh sieve before chilling it in the fridge.
- Butter – 7 and 1/2 tbsp, softened but still cool
- All-purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Egg yolks – 2
- Cold water – several tablespoons
- Put the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix at medium-high speed until combined and a bit fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the egg yolks, and cold water into the creamed butter, and mix until the dough is combined. Pour the dough onto a work surface and knead several times until dough is combined. Add a little bit of water if needed.
- Shape the dough into a thick round disc, wrap it in saran wrap, and place it in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the chilled dough from the fridge. Lightly dust your work surface with all-purpose flour. Roll the dough out into a round disc about 1/4 inch in thickness and is large enough to line a 9″ tart pan
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Carefully line your 9″ tart pan with the rolled out dough, making sure all the corners are covered by pushing in with your fingers. Place a piece of parchment paper on the top, weigh it down with pie weights, and bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes.
- Remove the parchment paper and pie weights, and place the tart shell back in the oven for 5 minutes and bake the tart shell until golden brown.
- Carefully remove the finished tart shell from the tart pan, and let it cool on the wire rack for at least 30 minutes to room temperature.
- Chilled custard – 1 recipe (above)
- Tart shell – 1 recipe for 9″ tart shell (above)+
- Strawberries – approx 2 lbs, cleaned, dried, the top stemmed part cut off, and sliced in half lengthwise.
- With an offset spatula, fill the tart shell with the chilled custard and level it to the same height as the tart shell.
- Place the strawberries on top of the custard, in any pattern you like (see my photo for example). You could also add any other berries you like (e.g. blueberries, blackberries). Your strawberry fruit tart is now done!
Note for the assembly: Many recipes recommend adding an apricot jam glaze so that the fruits don’t dry out (and for aesthetic purposes). However, I find that the glaze takes away from the fresh flavour of the berries, so I like to leave it out. But it is up to you and your personal preference.
(This post and recipe was posted first at http://www.yuenshan.com)