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Summer Fruit Tart


fruit tart

Back in Ottawa ON, my first job as a pastry cook right out of Le Cordon Bleu was making sweet dough and lining tart shells. Tens of thousands of tart shells later, it still brings me back to a great feeling of calm and precision when I roll out and line tart shells: just the right thickness so as to be sturdy enough to hold the filling, just the right amount of pressure on the thumb when you press the dough to line up agains the fluted edge of the mould. Just the right angle to make sure the corners were a perfect crisp edge. The humble tart shell has one vital job - to act as a sturdy vessel for its filling, yet break into a delicate tender crumble when pierced with a fork. Enjoy this recipe that has been in my notebook for over 20 years. It's tried, true and ever so delicious.


Yield: 8 or 9" fruit tart

Serving: 6 to 8

Kitchen scale needed

Prep Time: 20 mins dough & roll, plus 2 hours to chill the dough; 10 mins pastry cream

Baking Time: 30 mins

Prepare Ahead: Essential for pastry cream and tart dough


Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Tart Dough)


Ingredients:


285g unsalted butter - soft to the touch, but enough to hold it's shape

185g granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 large egg

510g all-purpose flour,

2 teaspoons salt


Method:


In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the sugar, salt and butter, cream on medium speed for about 2 minutes until it is pale and creamy, but not too fluffy. You don't want to be incorporating too much air. Scrape down and beat for another minute or so.


Add the eggs, and beat until homogenous. It may require another scrape down. Beat for another 30 seconds.


Add the flour. DON'T TURN THE MIXER ON JUST YET! Use your plastic scraper and mix it a little by hand fist, scraping the butter mixture from the bottom. Once you see a good mix of flour and butter, return the bowl to the mixer and use the lowest speed to bring it together. As soon as you see 3 balls forming, stop the mixer.


Finish mixing the dough on a clean countertop surface. Divide equally into 2 portions, wrap with plastic wrap in a shape of round flatten discs. Chill for 1 hour.


Have your tart ring ready on the side to be able to move the dough onto it. On a floured surface, place the unwrapped disc of dough and roll out to a 3 mm thickness. This will have enough overhang for lining the tart. Gently place both hands (open your fingers out to create a web) and move the dough onto the tart ring, gently. Start coaxing it down to the edges and press them with steady but firm pressure, to line the tart shell. Use your rolling pin and roll over the tart shell to over so gently release the access dough. Lift the ring, and start trimming the dough with a paring knife, stroking away from your body.



Dock the tart shell with a fork, and freeze it for about 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 350F. Once ready, line the tart shell with foil and baking beads (I use dried lentils like chickpeas!). Place the tart on a tray. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and gently remove the foil. Return to the oven for another 5 - 6 minutes until lightly golden, and the tart shell has shrunk away from the edges a little.


Allow to cool before filling!


Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream)


A staple in every pastry kitchen. Master this recipe and you will find hundreds of uses for it (think creampuffs)!


Ingredients:


3 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract, use 1 tablespoon.

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 egg yolks

45g unsalted butter



Method:


In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and half of the sugar, along with the vanilla pods from the split and scraped vanilla bean (reserve the bean, you can place it in a jar of sugar!). Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Keep an eye on the milk to prevent it from boiling.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well combined. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and whisk until smooth and creamy.


Slowly pour about half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly as you pour. This is called tempering and helps to prevent the eggs from curdling. Whisk vigorously to ensure the mixture is well incorporated.


Pour the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the saucepan to the stovetop over medium heat.


Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until it thickens and comes to a gentle boil, It will be thick, so the bubbles will look like they are in slow motion! This should take about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent any scorching or clumping.


Once the mixture has reached a thick consistency similar to pudding, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla (if you're using extract), ensuring it's evenly distributed throughout the cream. Use a whisk and beat in the butter until completely homogenized.


Immediately transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl or a heatproof container. To prevent a skin from forming, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream. Allow the pastry cream to cool at room temperature for a few minutes.


Once the pastry cream has cooled slightly, place it in the refrigerator to chill completely. This will take at least 2-3 hours, but you can also prepare it a day in advance. It will keep for a maximum of 2 days in the fridge.



Fruit Tart Assembly


Ingredients:


1 pre-baked tart shell

1 batch of pastry cream (there should be more than you need)

Fresh strawberries, washed and quartered

Fresh blackberries, washed and halved


Instructions:


Place the set pastry cream in a bowl. Whisk until it is a smooth custard, removing any lumps, and is a spreadable consistency.


Spread a layer of the prepared pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Use a spoon or an offset spatula to create a smooth layer.


Arrange the fresh strawberries and blackberries on top of the pastry cream. Be as creative as you like, placing the berries in concentric circles or scattering them randomly.


Continue layering the strawberries and blackberries until the tart shell is generously filled. You can alternate between the two types of berries or use them together.


For an optional finishing touch, you can brush the berries with a light glaze made from warmed apricot jam or jelly mixed with a little water. This will give the tart a glossy appearance and help preserve the freshness of the fruit.


Once assembled, place the fruit tart in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavours to meld and the pastry cream to set. This will make it easier to slice and serve.


Prior to serving, you can garnish the tart with additional fresh mint leaves or a light dusting of powdered sugar for added visual appeal. I used some fresh thyme that I had from my window sill.


Your delicious fruit tart is now ready to be enjoyed! Slice it into individual servings and savour the combination of the buttery tart shell, luscious pastry cream, and the bursts of sweet, tart and juicy fresh strawberries and blackberries.


Note: Feel free to experiment with other fruits based on your preference and seasonal availability. Blueberries, raspberries, or sliced peaches make excellent alternatives or additions to the fruit tart.



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