With summer having arrived here in the UK it seems only fitting that I share a delicious fruit tart recipe with you. Fruit tarts made with a lovely sweet pastry, filled with a gorgeous creme patisserie (pastry custard) and topped with fresh fruits are always such a treat.
And why not finish it off with a drizzle of chocolate - because, you know, it's chocolate!
Of course the chocolate isn't obligatory but for me it adds that little bit of something 'extra'.
Which fruits are best to use in a fruit tart?
If you're wondering which fruits are best to use in a fruit tart, the answer is easy: whichever you prefer!
The great thing about making a fruit tart, other than it being super yummy, of course, is that most fruits lend themselves beautifully to being used. So even if strawberries don't float your boat, other berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries (or bilberries if you can get hold of them) work equally well. And don't forget stone fruits, like peaches, apricots & nectarines are also great too.
And then, of course, you could also use oranges, kiwi, or maybe even mango. And the great thing about fresh fruit (or even tinned if you prefer) is that it needs very little preparation other than a quick wash and dry, though others, of course, may need the stone removing from their centre. Rhubarb, though, which is delicious with custard, will need to be cooked / roasted until tender before using.
How to prevent a soggy bottom to your tart.
Now, if I was a betting sort of girl I would wager that a significant number of people, myself included, often have their fingers crossed or even say a little prayer when slicing into their pies and tarts in the hope that it doesn't have a soggy bottom.
The key to preventing that dreaded soggy pastry is to ensure moisture doesn't get into it. There are a number of ways of achieving that from the type of pastry you use, blind baking, or even painting certain foods onto the pastry base.
- Blind Bake. This is the key way of trying to ensure the pastry stays nice and crisp rather than becoming a soggy horrid mass. Blind Baking simply means baking the pastry shell without any of the filling.
- Choice of pastry. Hot water crust pastries, the sort used to make traditional pork pies or even our scrummy vegetarian 'meat' and potato pies, is a great robust pastry for staying firm, and avoiding that dreaded soggy bottom, the phrase often associated with the Queen of Baking Mary Berry. It's incredibly easy to use, though the downside is that it's not always the best choice of pastry being a harder more robust pastry.
- Seal the pastry. Lightly beaten egg white is often brushed onto a pastry crust that has almost finished being blind baked. It is then put back into the oven for the egg white to cook and create a seal.
- Use chocolate. Melted white chocolate is a great, and of course yummy, way of sealing the cooked pastry when making a cold pastry dessert like our Strawberry Tart. Simply paint it on, allow it to dry, and then fill the pastry case.
- Use cornflour. If you're making a fruit pie, for instance, a great way of thickening the fruit juices which will be released from the fruits during the bake is by scattering the fruit with cornflour (used as a thickener here in the UK) and rolling the fruit in it so that they are lightly covered, as I did with our Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart.
- Ground Almonds. Another tactic you could try to avoid that soggy bottom when making some sort of fruit pie is to generously scatter ground almonds (or another ground nut) into the bottom of the pastry case which will absorb some of the juices during the bake.
How to make a Strawberry Tart with Creme Patisserie.
For the Sweet Pastry
- 140 g Plain Flour + a little extra for rolling out (5oz)
- 50 g Unsalted Butter chilled, diced (2oz)
- 50 g Icing Sugar (2oz)
- 1 large Egg lightly beaten
For the Creme Patisserie
- 150 ml Milk (¼ pt)
- 150 ml Double Cream (¼pt)
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 75 g Caster Sugar (3oz)
- 30 g Cornflour (2tbsp)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
To assemble the Tart
- 40 g White Chocolate (1 ½ oz)
- 350 g Fresh Strawberries (12oz)
- 40 ml Double Cream optional (3tbsp)
- 40 g Semi Dark Chocolate about 54% cocoa solids) optional (1 ½ oz)
To make the pastry
- Place the flour, icing sugar and cubed chilled butter into a good sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar between your thumb and finger tips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add the beaten egg. Using a rounded pallet knife, or similar, cut through the mixture to make a dough. You may need to add a little cold water or milk to fully bring the mixture together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough for 10 seconds. Shape the pastry into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
To make the creme patisserie
- .Pour the cream and milk into a moderate sized pan. Place on the hob and allow to come almost to the boil. Set the pan aside. In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together to combine. Add the cornflour and mix until smooth. Sit the bowl on a kitchen towel to keep it still whilst whisking. Pour half of the hot milk over the egg mixture whisking all of the time. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan, continuing to stir all of the time.
- Set the pan over a low heat and allow the custard to cook whilst stirring thoroughly all of the time with a wooden spoon. If the custard starts to go a little lumpy as it begins to thicken take it off the heat and beat well until smooth again. Continue to cook the creme pat until a line can be drawn on the back of the wooden spoon without the custard trickling back into the line. The custard should be thick. Add the vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Pour the custard into a clean bowl (passing it through a sieve if necessary). Cover with cling film ensuring the cling film is in direct contact with the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.
To make the pastry case
- Line the tart case. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Place the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry out into a circle until it is about 3mm thick. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin, lift it up (using the rolling pin) and place into the flan tin. Gently tease the pastry into the case so that it sits into the edges well and picks up the shape of the fluted sides. If the pastry tears, patch it with surplus pastry. Avoid stretching the pastry.
- Trim away the excess pastry. Use a pair of clean scissors to trim away the bulk of the excess pastry which over hangs the sides of the tart case. Don’t worry about making it neat as the pastry will be trimmed neatly after it has been blind baked. Use a fork to gently prick the pastry base. Cut a piece of grease proof paper large enough to cover the base and sides tart case. Scrunch it up and open it out. Gently lay it on top of the pastry, easing it into the edges. Weigh the paper down with baking beans or uncooked rice or pasta. Place into the fridge to chill for at least 10 – 15 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190c / 170 fan / Gas 5. Blind bake the pastry. Place the cases into the centre of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, you may need to rotate the cases. Remove from the oven and lift out the greaseproof paper which holds the baking beans / rice. With a sharp knife carefully trim away the excess pastry to neaten. Return the tart case to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through.
- Cool. Remove the tart case from the oven and place onto a cooling rack and allow to completely cool.
Make the chocolate ganache (optional).
- Break the 40g semi dark chocolate (or use milk chocolate if you prefer) into small pieces. Place the 40ml double cream into a small pan. Add the broken chocolate pieces. Set on the hob over a low heat. Allow the cream to heat gently whilst the chocolate melts. Stir the mixture constantly to avoid it catching. Once the chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth and streak free pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Break the 40g white chocolate into a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water (bain marie). Ensure the water in the pan doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Set the pan over a medium heat and allow the chocolate to melt. Stir. Once the chocolate has almost completely melted remove the bowl from the pan. Stir. Use a pastry brush (or the back of a teaspoon) to apply a thin layer of the melted chocolate to the inside of the pastry case. Set aside to allow the chocolate to set.
- Begin to assemble the tarts. Once the chocolate inside the pastry case has set and the creme patisserie is completely cold begin assemble the tart. Stir the custard thoroughly. Use a spoon to fill the pastry case. Avoid over filling it.
- Arrange the strawberries on top of the tart. Wash, dry and hull the strawberries. Slice them in half. Gently place the strawberries around the edge of the tart cut side up and with the narrow part pointing away from the custard. Aim to use strawberries of similar size. Begin the next ring of strawberries, positioning them between the intersection of the outer ring of strawberry halves. Continue arranging the strawberries until the whole tart is covered.
- Finish with a drizzle of chocolate. Spoon the cooled ganache into a piping bag (no nozzle required) (see notes b & c below). Drizzle the chocolate over the top of the tart.