Pies, Tarts and Crumbles

Fruit Tart with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

Months ago, I eagerly asked my dad what he wanted me to bake for his birthday. His definitive response was a mixed fruit tart, specifically one with that distinct glaze pastry shops use to make the fruit shine. So last weekend, I set out to finally make this beautiful dessert, scouring every source known to man in the hopes of finding the best possible combination of pastry cream (aka the stuff dreams are made of) and flaky, buttery crust (aka the other stuff dreams are made of).

I eventually settled on a trusted and favorite blog, the Smitten Kitchen, deciding to use Deb’s pastry cream from her Strawberry Tart and her “Unshrinkable” Tart Shell. I started with the dough, which needs to rest in the fridge for a good 2 hours, then moved on to the pastry cream. Then came rolling the pastry out, fitting it in my tart pan and making it look somewhat presentable before popping it in the freezer for another 30 minutes of setting time. I finally put it in the oven and crossed my fingers for the promised no shrinkage…

But I did end up with a bit. A small bit, but a bit nonetheless. Anywho, the flavor of the tart shell was to die for (and the recipe magically requires no pie weights!) and I have to say, I think that after the 3 fruit arrangements I auditioned the tart looked gorgeous.

Let’s start, shall we?

DSC_0190

Start with the dough: In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, whisk or pulse together some flour, sugar and salt. Use a pastry blender, your fingertips or the food processor to cut in some cubes of cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, like this.

DSC_0192

Stir in a beaten egg until the dough forms some clumps, then turn it out onto a floured surface and gently press it into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Go for a walk! Have some lunch! Read a book!

DSC_0201

Or make pastry cream! To do this, I just brought half a split and scraped vanilla bean and some milk to a boil, turned off the heat, and covered the pan for 10 minutes. Then, in another pot or saucepan, combine egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch and whisk until they get nice and pale.

DSC_0196

Like this! While you’re whisking, gradually add in about 1/4 of the hot milk, then pour in the rest and whisk it all together. Discard the vanilla bean pod and vigorously whisk the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Continue to whisk until the mixture is nice and thick, like pudding. Remove it from the heat and pour it into a heatproof bowl. After a few minutes of cooling, just stir in some buttah and put it in the fridge!

DSC_0204

When it’s time to move on with the tart shell, roll the dough out on a floured piece of parchment to a 12 inch round if you’re using a 9 inch tart pan (I actually multiplied the recipe by 1.5 to fit a 9 inch square pan). Transfer the dough to a buttered pan and trim the overhang to 1/2 an inch. Fold the overhang in to make thicker sides and pierce all over with a fork. Place this in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

DSC_0211

To bake the shell, tightly wrap the pan in foil that’s been buttered on the shiny side, then pop it into a 375 F oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the crust, take off the foil and use the back of a spoon to press down any puffy areas. Return this to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown. Brown = flavor!

DSC_0253

Yum! See, I’d be totally cool stopping right here. I could eat tart crust all day every day.

DSC_0230

But then we’d never get to use this beautiful fruit! This, my friends, is why I love summer and its produce.

DSC_0233

The colors are so gorgeous and bright! Use anything you want or have on hand. Berries, mango, kiwi–anything goes!

DSC_0254

Alrighty, let’s do this thang. Once your crust is cooled and your pastry cream is set, plop some of that cream right on down. I actually ended up whipping my chilled pastry cream in my stand mixer for a few seconds just to make it spreadable again.

DSC_0118Now here comes the moment of truth: How will you lay your fruit?

DSC_0120

I started like this. But I felt like this tart was capable of bigger and better things.

DSC_0146

So then I turned to this, but everything was just too boxed up and, well, boring.

DSC_0153

So I settled on this! Which one was your favorite?

After this, I just brushed on some of that shiny glaze. Just apricot preserves and water!

This recipe’s a keeper, my friends. Give it a go this weekend!

Fruit Tart with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

from crumbsandnibbles.com, pastry cream and tart shell originally from smittenkitchen.com

Makes 1 9-inch tart

Ingredients:

For the tart shell:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the pastry cream:

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the assembly:

Fruit of your choice, enough to cover your pan (such as strawberries, blueberries, kiwi etc)

2 tablespoons apricot preserves or jam

1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1. Start with the dough: In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, whisk or pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Use a pastry blender, your fingertips or the food processor to cut in cubes of cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the beaten egg until the dough forms some clumps, then turn it out onto a floured surface and gently press it into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, bring vanilla bean and milk to a boil, then turn off the heat `and cover the pan for 10 minutes.

3. In another pot or saucepan, combine egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch and whisk until they get nice and pale. While you’re whisking, gradually add in about 1/4 of the hot milk, then pour in the rest and whisk it all together. Discard the vanilla bean pod and vigorously whisk the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Continue to whisk until the mixture is nice and thick, like pudding. Remove it from the heat and pour it into a heatproof bowl. After a few minutes of cooling, stir in the softened butter, press a piece of plastic wrap to the top and place in the fridge to chill until set.

4. When you’re ready to move on with the tart shell, butter a 9 inch tart pan and roll the dough out on a floured piece of parchment to a 12 inch round. Transfer the dough to the buttered pan and trim the overhang to 1/2 an inch. Fold the overhang in to make thicker sides and pierce all over with a fork. Place this in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F.

5. To bake the shell, butter a piece of foil on the shiny side and tightly wrap the pan in the foil buttered side down, then pop it into a 375 F oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the crust, take off the foil and use the back of a spoon to press down any puffy areas. Return this to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, then remove from the tart pan.

6. To assemble the tart, spread a layer of pastry cream into the cooled tart shell and top with the fruit. If your cream is too stiff, just beat it on medium high in a stand mixer for a few seconds and it’ll loosen right up. In a small saucepan, whisk together the apricot preserves and water until smooth and brush on top of the fruit.

Happy weekend, and happy nibbling!

Newsletter

3 Comments

  • Reply
    The Culinary Jumble
    June 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    It looks stunning!

  • Reply
    Simple Blueberry Pie | Crumbs and Nibbles
    July 1, 2016 at 2:29 am

    […] the years, with the highlights including Black Bottom Oatmeal, Salted Caramel Apple, that glorious Fruit Tart with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream, the Lemon Amaretti Meringue Tarts, and those mini Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes! Many of those […]

  • Leave a Reply