Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

A week ago I went on vacation with my family to our favorite spot in South Carolina.  We had a truly wonderful trip and Andrew got to experience the ocean for the first time.  We had quite a large group along with us, and though the island had many options for dining out, most nights I made dinner for the whole crowd (10 people!)  This was a great arrangement for several reasons – one, I probably would have gone crazy not cooking for a week, two – it was a nice way for us to all reconnect at the end of the day, and three – it was much, much cheaper than eating out.  One of the evenings I made this dessert as a sweet end to our evening.  And oh, how sweet it was.  I’ve made fruit tarts before and they have always been good, but this was just incredible.  I have a basic recipe for tart dough that I use all the time, but since I normally make it in my stand mixer which was not available to me, I decided to give this version a try.  It was fabulous – great texture and deliciously sweet.  But the show-stopper was the pastry cream.  Oh.My.Gosh.  It was so so so amazing.  It took all of my will power to not just eat the whole batch and pretend that I had planned no dessert for that evening.  Combined with the beautiful fresh fruit, this was a wonderful light summer dessert and it was devoured in a matter of minutes. 

Cooking or baking in an unequipped kitchen can be quite difficult when you have become accustomed to the convenience and efficiency of certain appliances or gadgets.  Though trying, I think it can also be good to get back to the basics and remind yourself of alternate techniques (such as cutting together a pastry dough using a fork and knife rather than a food processor or mixer, separating eggs with the shell, etc.)  It can also remind you that even simple desserts such as a fruit tart can be just as elegant and scrumptious as something more complex.  This would be great with just about any combination of fruit, but I loved this particular variation because of the gorgeous colors.  Normally I glaze the fruit with a bit of jam as recommended, but I wasn’t going to buy a jar on vacation just for that, so I skipped it.  Wouldn’t change a thing about this, and definitely can’t wait to make it again!

Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
For the tart dough:
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the pastry cream:
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 large kiwis, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
6-9 oz. raspberries
1/2-1 cup blueberries
Apple jelly, for glazing

To make the tart shell, whisk together the egg yolk, cream and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside.  Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Process briefly to combine.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; process to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses.  With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds.  Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch dish.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  (If refrigerated for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.)  Unwrap and roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round.  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan.  Mold the dough to the sides of the tart pan and remove the excess off the top.  Set the dough-lined tart pan on a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to middle position.  Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12-inch square of foil into the frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights.  Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights.  Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes longer.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

To make the pastry cream, heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds.  Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When the half-and-half mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture to temper, whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds.  Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Strain the pastry cream through a  fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl.  Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

To assemble the tart, spread the cold pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the tart shell.  Arrange the fruit on top of the pastry cream as desired.  Heat the jelly in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just until slightly melted and easy to stir.  Using a pastry brush, paint a light layer of jelly over the fresh fruit.  Serve.

Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated

46 Responses

  1. This looks amazing Annie. It is so colorful and summery.

  2. That looks amazing!!

  3. This looks so refreshing for the summer time weather!

  4. This looks like a crowd stopper. I made a lemon version a while ago and found it to be really sweet. I think it had something like 2 cups of sugar in it. 1/2 cup seems far more reasonable.

  5. You must have taken your own tart pan though! I can’t imagine any rental kitchen being equipped with one. Beautiful tart — it would make a gorgeous Fourth dessert!

    • Barbara,
      Yep, you are right, I took my own tart pan. I had been wanting to make this for weeks and decided vacation would be a perfect opportunity.
      🙂 Annie

  6. That looks so delicious! I love the pictures.

  7. What a gorgeous looking tart! I think your choice of fruits is perfect. 🙂

  8. it sure is beautiful!

  9. That tart belongs on the cover of a magazine it’s so gorgeous! I would have had a hard time resisting it as well!

  10. Your family is very spoiled that you cooked for them every night 🙂 The tart is gorgeous!

  11. Looks delicious and so colorful!

  12. I made a similar tart a few days ago, but I glazed it with melted apricot jam and forgot to add some liquid to keep it from glopping. Yours looks really beautiful – I wish I would have left the glaze off of mine! Gorgeous –

  13. This looks amazing Annie – you never cease to amaze! And the new blog design looks great!

  14. Wow. It’s so colorful and … just pretty! You should start a business!

  15. Your tart is beautiful!

  16. Gorgeous fruit tart! The colors are so vibrant.

    I totally get why your family would be happier to have you feed them as opposed to eating out! I know I would be! Everything you make looks and I’m certain tastes amazingly good!

  17. So you didn’t use the apple jelly?

    • Hi Sara,
      No, I didn’t use the apple jelly. Pie weights are little ceramic beads you can find at any kitchen supply aisle/store, made to prevent a pastry dough baked without a filling from puffing up. If you don’t have any you can use rice or dried beans instead (actually, on the island I used peanuts in the shell because that was the only thing I could find at the gas station – ha!)
      🙂 Annie

  18. And what the heck are pie weights?

    Sorry for all my stupid questions. I appreciate your help.

  19. This is my favorite type of dessert – it looks gorgeous and just screams summertime 🙂

  20. Absolutely stunning!

  21. This look so beautiful. The colors are so vibrant and just scream summer:)

  22. Since its summer down under – I decided to make this last night and it was absolutely out of this world!! (although mine didn’t look anywhere as good as yours)

    I just had some trouble with the tart dough, when i tried to roll it out to the desired thickness (1/8 inch) it kept breaking up and sticking (and yes I used quite a bit to dust the flour surface). In the end I just rolled it out a bit thicker, then pressed it down a little once on the tart pan and patched up the broken parts with the extra dough.

    Can you please tell me what consistency should the dough be once ready? Should I add more flour if it is coming out to be too sticky or is it supposed to be a little sticky?

    Thanks for a great recipe 🙂

    • Hi Mavish,
      Sorry you had trouble with the dough. I don’t have any great advice as it’s impossible to know what went wrong. The dough consistency was no different than any other tart dough I’ve ever made. Are you sure you chilled it enough? I would not advise adding more flour when it seems sticky, because that could result in a dry, crumbly or tough crust. Hope it goes better next time!

  23. Hi Annie, I am going to brave it and try out your recipe just because the picture looks so great. I mentioned “brave” because most creme patissiere recipes ask for milk and no butter. I suppose the butter does the job of the extra flour in the othe recipes to keep it stiffer when cold. Have you tried others that you find tasty as well (lighter in calorie) or you find this one the most delicious?

    • That is odd because every tart dough I have ever made calls for butter. Milk and flour sounds quite tasteless. Also, this comes from America’s Test Kitchen who are pretty traditional in their methods. But yes, I really enjoy this one, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it.

  24. […] For the second tart I wanted to make for the pool bday party, was this gorgeous fruit tart I saw on Annie’s Eats a while back. I love just how pretty this is and she is SPOT ON when she says the pastry cream is […]

  25. Hi Annie
    I made the beautiful Fruit tart this weekend for some of my friends. It was absolutely delicious and a huge success. In the midst of make the tart crust I realized my tart pan was 11 inches in size, instead of 9 inches. Oops, but it still worked out ok. The crust was perhaps just a little more crispy than it would have been had I used a 9 inch pan instead. I will definitely be making this Fruit tart again and again.

  26. Heya – I tried this tonight for my mother for Mother’s Day. Wow disaster. First of all, my dough was really really crumbly. I think it was because I didn’t mix it well enough to begin with though…

    However my question does center on the custard/cream part. I followed the directions, but after keeping the cream in the refrigerator for three hours, it was still pretty much completely liquid. What did I do wrong?

    Now I know to never try a new recipe for the first time on a holiday!! Oh well – I’ll see if it’s more cream-like tomorrow.

    • Rachel,
      You didn’t cook the pastry cream long enough. It should definitely be thick before you even strain it, chill it, etc. I’ve made this recipe many times and never had a problem with it.

  27. In a word WOW, this looks beautiful, great job.

  28. Hey Annie,
    What are your thoughts on converting these to tartlets? Also, how long should the cream be chilled? Thanks!

    • Hey Jaime,
      Pretty much any full size tart can be easily converted to mini tartlettes, no problem. The cream chills just as long as indicated in the recipe for the pastry cream itself, but doesn’t require any additional chilling once you have assembled the tart/tartlettes.

  29. I tried this last night and although the pastry cream was delicious it never thickened up in the fridge. I just read in your previous post that I didn’t cook the cream long enough so I will definitely try again. I just wanted to post this in case someone else wants to try and let them know to make sure and cook the cream until thickened like you suggested to Rachel. Just made your salsa and will try the southwestern egg rolls tonight. I love all your recipes and am having such a good time trying lots of them. Thanks for such a great blog Annie!

  30. Yumm!!!! Just made this today, so impressive and so delicious!! Thanks, I always love your blog, I have huge list of things to make from it!

  31. Hi! This looks great! I’m going to try and make this for my mother in law’s birthday this weekend and I am wondering if you think it’d possible to substitute the 1 tbsp heavy cream for half and half instead and have pretty much the same outcome? I have none on hand and don’t really want to buy some just for 1 tbsp but if it’s going to make a difference, I will. Thanks!!!!

  32. Hi Annie, I was wondering if it is possible to cut this recipe in half so that it is just enough for four mini pie tart pans? Do you have any suggestions?

    • Katherine,
      Of course it is possible to split into mini tart pans but the quantity you need depends entirely on the size of your mini pans. At least with mine, I would actually need to increase the amount of crust slightly to fill all four. Everything else stays the same.

  33. Thank you soo much Annie 🙂 I can’t wait to make the tart for my boyfriend 🙂

  34. Sorry Annie but I have one more question. If I don’t have a food processor, is it okay to use a pastry blender to make the dough for the crust?

    • Katherine,
      Sure, just like with pie dough you can use whatever method gets you to the end result. Tart dough is just a pie dough, but a little sweeter.

  35. Hello Annie,
    thanks for the Recipe. Everything looks good execpt for the ingredients of the pastry cream. i didnt understand of what were the 2 cups half-and-half, especially that you heated them thereafter in the directions ??

    • I’m not sure I understand your question. The recipe calls for half and half to be used in the pastry cream.

  36. i tried this today and i also made the mistake of not cooking the cream long enough. but even so, the taste was GREAT! will make this again! =)

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