Fruit Tart


What I love about summer is the over-abundance of fruit – gloriously sweet, deliriously delicious fruit. A trip to the farmer’s markets turns into a trip to the candy store with aisles of bright colored produce, and of course, I revert back into my five-year old self, squealing with glee as I run up and down the aisles and grab everything I can get my grubby paws on. My over-excitement often translates into overbuying fruit, which is bad most of the time. But if a fruit tart is on the menu, it’s a beautiful bad habit to have.


First thing’s first – you need to make the sweet tart dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Once that’s ready to go, roll it out into your trusty tart pan and then freeze it for at least 30 minutes (needless to say, the longer, the better!). Bake it off, make some vanilla pastry cream, throw on a few pounds of fruit and voi la! Instant fruit tart! (Okay… so maybe it’s not that simple…)


Decorating the fruit tart is like making that macaroni picture frame from second grade.


Prettifying with a little smackling of glaze.


Hello, wondrous tart of goodness.


I cannot wait until you get in my belly.


Rich, buttery crush. Smooth, decadent vanilla cream. Fresh and sweet but slightly tart berries. In one bite? Yes, please.

Sweet Tart Shell
Recipe from smittenkitchen
Makes enough for a 9-inch tart (if you have an 11-inch pan like me, just make a second batch and freeze the leftovers)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tbsps) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg

1.) Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.

2.) To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Alternately, you can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.

3.) Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

4.) To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.

5.) Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.
________

Vanilla Pastry Cream
Recipe from Back to the Cutting Board

2/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 eggs or 4 egg yolks
2 cups cream, half and half or whole milk
2 tsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla

1.) Mix together eggs/yolks and cream. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk every minute or so at first, but as it heats up and starts to boil and thicken, you will need to whisk constantly. This should take about 10 minutes.

2.) Turn the heat to low/medium-low so that mixture bubbles gently and cook until it coats the back of a spoon, or when you can draw your finger through it and the line stays there. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

3.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve/strainer. It’s possible I cooked mine until it was too thick, but I had trouble getting it through. I wound up using different strainer (less fine) and pushing it through using pressure from the back of a large spoon.

4.) Set aside and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate it for a few hours if you make this ahead of time, but make sure to lay plastic wrap directly on top of the cream or else a skin will form on it.
________

You can FINALLY assemble the fruit tart! Pour the pastry cream into the tart shell and smooth it out. Decorate your tart with the fruit and design of your choice. Feel free to dive right in if you can’t wait just a little longer but if you want that shiny finish, heat up ½ cup of apricot, strawberry or raspberry preserves (or any other you want, really) and mix in a tablespoon of water or lemon juice to thin it out. Brush the glaze on and let it set in the refrigerator for a little bit.

Now, cut yourself a nice, large slice and marvel at your beautiful creation.

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