Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fresh Fruit Tart

I first shared this fruit tart recipe over four years ago on Mission: Food. It was one of my favorites then and it still is. It's incredibly easy to prep the dough and pastry cream in advance and then bake off the shell and assemble the tart on game day.

It's also one of the most impressive and beautiful desserts one can make with limited resources. My kitchen and photography skills have improved exponentially over the years and I felt like a recipe of this caliber deserved to be revisited (and rephotographed). In fact it's the only recipe I've re-shared nearly verbatim, but that's how much I love it!

In addition to its relative ease and impressive aesthetics, I also love how this tart can change vastly based on seasonality and personal preference. One can easily stick to only one or two fruits, or select a large and colorful array. I have never made the same fruit tart twice.

Fresh Fruit Tart
Makes 1 (9-to-11-inch) tart

1 fully baked and cooled tart shell (see below)
2 1/2 cups pastry cream (see below)
2 to 4 cups fruit, sliced or whole depending on type
3 tablespoons apricot jam, to glaze

Spoon pastry filling into prepared tart shell about three-fourths full. You may not use all of the pastry cream. Set aside the leftovers. Smooth out the cream, and decoratively top with the fruit.

In a small saucepan, heat the apricot jam over low heat until it liquefies, then strain it to remove any solid bits of fruit. Brush the glaze over the fruit. This tart is best served the day it is made.

Pâte Sucrée
Makes 2 (9-to-11-inch) tart shells (you will only need 1 for this tart, so freeze the rest of the dough or make 2 tarts)

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon (128 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together on medium speed until smooth. Mix in the egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and mix on low speed until incorporated.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 2 equal balls and shape each into a disk 1/2-inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. This dough can also be frozen in a freezer bag for and later defrosted in the fridge the night before use. The dough will keep well frozen for a few weeks.

Place a disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8-inch thick, rolling from center to edge in all directions. Lift and rotate the dough occasionally, to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Add more flour if necessary. Work quickly to keep the dough as cold as possible throughout this process. Lightly wrap the dough circle over the rolling pin and carefully unroll it over a 9-to-11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (if using an 11-inch tart pan you may have to roll the dough a touch thinner, but it will be enough to fit the pan). When the dough has been lightly pressed into the proper shape, use the rolling pin to roll over all the metal edges, thus cutting the overhanging dough perfectly. Do not stretch the dough into the pan or else it will shrink when baking. If the dough tears at all, patch it with leftover bits of dough, pressing firmly. This is a very forgiving dough, unlike some others.

Place the tart pan into the fridge for about 15 minutes or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Prick the insides of the shell with a fork. Line the shell with a piece of parchment and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the pie weights and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack until ready to use. These baked shells will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for 2 weeks.

Pastry Cream
Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste, or 1/2 a vanilla bean with the seeds scraped out
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (115 grams) sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high, bringing the milk just to under a boil, stirring occasionally so the milk doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornstarch.

When the milk is ready, slowly ladle about one-third into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk and continue whisking over medium heat until the custard is noticeably thicker, about 2 minutes.

To check the correct thickness of the cream, dip a wooden spoon into the custard, remove it and run your finger across it. It should leave a line where your finger crossed. When the custard is thick enough, remove it from the heat and strain it into a clean bowl.

Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and whisk the butter into the cream, one piece at a time. To cool the cream, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and press the wrap directly onto the top of the cream. Once the cream is a little cooler, put it into the fridge to finish cooling. Pastry cream will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.


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