This is where I tell you the poignant story of how my late grandmother used to make the most delicious strawberry tart and how I spent eighty-seven months after she passed away trying to find a recipe that came even close.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any such story to tell. I can’t pinpoint where my extreme love of fruit tarts began, but suffice to say this simple yet elegant treat has worked its way up to third-most-loved-dessert in my heart. (For future reference: # 1 and 2 are carrot cake and molten lava cake.)
Anyway, enough of that; let’s get down to business!
With any fruit tart, you’ll have the three main components: the crust, the filling, and the fruit. For this one, I made a classic pâte sucrée dough, lined it with a semisweet ganache and filled it with crème pâtissière (or pastry cream, if you’re not trying to sound all fancy like I am), topped it with fresh strawberries and blackberries and finished it off with an apple jam glaze. (That’s two layers more than you need, but the little bit of extra effort goes a long way!)
Can I talk about this a little more before I post the recipe? Okay cool, it’ll be quick, I promise.
- Surprisingly, the crust was exceedingly easy to make—no pesky steps involving rolling out the dough (which is always my least favorite part). Instead, you can press the dough straight into your pie pan AND, even better, you don’t need to use pie weights! This crust won’t puff up unnecessarily; it’s super simple but tastes like it took a lot of hard work!
- If you haven’t made pastry cream, I urge you to drop everything and go make some right now. Seriously, I could eat this stuff right out of the pot. We’re all lucky that some of it even ended up in the tart.
- The ganache lining is not required but I find that a barrier of sorts between the crust and filling keeps the crust from getting soggy if you’re preparing this in advance. And who ever objected to a little bit of chocolate anyway?
- The glaze is also optional, but it really is what makes a fruit tart go from ‘I made this for a backyard BBQ’ to ‘I spent hours laboring over this beautiful specimen of a dessert. Oh, what’s that? No, I didn’t buy this from that fancy Italian bakery, but thank you for asking.’ Seriously. I made this last weekend for when my dad’s fancy lawyer friends came over and my brother actually thought that they had brought it with them and wouldn’t believe I had made it. And the best part about that is that you can use any jam you have sitting around! Apricot, apple, and raspberry tend to pair well with most fruits.
- Another great thing about fruit tarts is that they can be catered to any tastes. Literally any combination of fruit is possible. My favorite is just plain strawberries, but other possibilities are peaches, mangos, plums, blueberries, raspberries, anything—the list is endless!
And now on to the recipe! I’m not going to include a recipe for the pastry cream because no one does it better than Joe Pastry, who has beautiful step-by-step tutorials for both a creamier and firmer pastry cream. I used the creamy one for this but the other would also work well, and would probably yield neater slices when you cut the tart.
Classic Fruit Tart
- 1 tart shell, baked fully (recipe below)
- Chocolate ganache (recipe below)
- 2 1/2 cups pastry cream, cold (Joe Pastry has a great tutorial on how to make this)
- 3 cups assorted fruit
- 2 tablespoons jam or preserves (any flavor)
- Pour ganache into fully baked tart shell; use a pastry brush or rubber spatula to spread until it completely covers the crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Fill ganache-lined crust with pastry cream. Decorate with fruit as desired.
- Melt jam or preserves in microwave until liquid. Using a pastry brush, coat the fruit in the melted jam.
- Refrigerate assembled tart for at least one hour. To serve, cut into wedges.
Pâte Sucrée Crust:
(From Smitten Kitchen)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
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.
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.
Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
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.
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.
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
- Heat chocolate with cream until the cream is hot.
- Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool ten minutes before using.