I think fruit tarts are mesmerising. They are the item that catches my eye at every bakery counter, the fruit so perfectly (or in my case, not perfectly) arranged, glistening in glaze and so full of gorgeous colour. They are a treat I would label as ‘splendid’ – I have no other world for them and no other word can really describe how visually appealing (and scrumptious) they are.
Having said all that, you think I might make them more often than I do – but pastry and I just don’t spend alot of time together, so it’s maybe only twice a year that I rustle one up, and it’s usually on a whim.
This whim occurred yesterday, when we felt that we had enough of the great outdoors and wanted some time to potter inside. My pastry recipe makes a little more than is required for a 9 or 10″ dish so my daughters were happy to make their own dough creations with the excess.
There is never a bad time to make (or eat) a fruit tart, and even if your appetite is not up for it, just enjoy looking at them - resplendid in all their fruity beauty.
Sweet Tart Dough
1 1/4 sticks (142 grams/5 ounces) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed (50 grams /1.76 ounces) finely ground almond powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (245 grams /8.6 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
6 large eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 – 4 cups of fruit, sliced or whole
Apricot or peach jam for glaze (optional)
Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment and beat until creamy, scraping down the edges as needed.
Add the sugar almond powder, salt, vanilla and eggs and still working on low speed, beat to blend the ingredients, scraping sides as needed. (dough may look curdled, that is okay)
With the machine on low, add the flour in three parts and mix until the dough mixture starts to get together. Do not over mix – stop when the dough comes together in a soft ball, just a matter of seconds.
Remove the sweet pastry dough and shape into a ball and flatten it slightly and then wrap in plastic wrap. If using the dough immediately, let it settle in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. To freeze, put the wrapped disks in freezer bag and use within a month. (When starting from the frozen pastry disks, thaw about 45 minutes before the dough is ready for rolling out.)
To roll and bake the tart, butter a 9 or 10 inch tart pan.
Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin, then roll out the pastry disk, working it in each direction to ease the shape into a circular shape between 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick. Carefully lay the rolled dough over the tart dish. With your fingers, gently ease the dough into the corners and up the sides. If the shell cracks, use scraps to patch.
Use the rolling pin or knife to cut off excess edges. Prick the surface all over with a fork. Line the shell with parchment or foil and fill with dried beans or rice.
Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until it is lightly colored. Remove the parchment or foil and beans and bake an additional 2-3 minutes to firm up the bottom.
Cool on a rack.
In a small saucepan, bring milk and vanilla bean (pulp and pod) to a boil over medium heat. Cover the pan and turn off heat and let rest to infuse vanilla for 10 minutes.
Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water. Set aside smaller bowl that can hold the finished cream and be placed in the ice bath.
Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Remove vanilla bean pod from hot milk. Slowly drizzle some milk into yolks, whisking continuously. Still whisking, pour in all the liquid in a steady stream. Place the pan over medium heat and whisking vigorously without stopping, bring mixture to a boil. Keep at boil while whisking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape pastry cream into the small bowl in put it in the ice bath.
Stir the pastry cream continuously as it cools to keep it smooth. When it is about 140 degrees (very warm to the touch but not extremely hot) stir in butter in 3 or 4 additions. Return to ice bath and leave until cooled. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Soften the jam over your stovetop and set aside to cool a little.
Pour the pastry cream into the cooked tart shell and top with sliced fruit of your choice. If you have decided to glaze the fruit, spoon or brush your glaze over the top.
Source: adapted from Pierre Hermes
© 2012, Michelle. All rights reserved.