I rarely make a recipe twice. On the rare occasion that I do, I tend to modify the recipe over time. (It drives my husband crazy.) Not the case with this Classic Fruit Tart. I make at least one of these beauties every summer, and I never stray from the original recipe. It's perfect. We're talking an orange-scented sweet pastry shell, vanilla bean pastry cream, and loads of fresh fruit. You could serve it with brunch, lunch, dinner, or just because. Or all of those. It's that good.
This time around, I was inspired by all the colors of the fresh fruit available at the store. I set out to make a version of my Classic Fruit Tart with a whole rainbow of fruit.
The crust for this tart is just lovely. It is slightly sweet, with flecks of orange zest throughout. The recipe uses pastry flour, which helps ensure a tender crust (along with not overmixing/overhandling the dough). The dough is soft to work with, but it's also forgiving in that any tears/holes that you may have can be patched with no negative impact on the texture or structure of the crust. If you can't find pastry flour in your local grocery store, you can find it online (link [here]). If you choose not to use pastry flour, you can use all-purpose flour, but the crust will not be as tender.
I used an 11"x7" rectangular tart pan from my (ridiculously extensive) bakeware collection (like this one [here]). You can choose to make any size or shape tart that you like. Just keep in mind if you're making smaller tarts, the crust will bake in less time!
When you bake the crust, pie weights help to keep the dough from rising and/or getting bubbles as it bakes, making sure that you have the room that you need for filling. You can buy actual pie weights if you'd like (like these [here]), but I just use black beans. They're cheap and you can use them over and over again.
When people use the term "vanilla" to describe something boring, they've clearly never tasted this recipe. This vanilla pastry cream is my jam. The promise of eating it along with the crust and covered in fruit is the only thing that keeps me from eating the whole bowl with a spoon.
The original recipe calls for one whole vanilla bean, but I always use vanilla bean paste since I always have it on-hand and find the flavor very similar to using fresh beans. If you don't want to use vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste, you can add additional vanilla extract. That said, I highly recommend the vanilla bean paste, as it has more flavor than extract, and is more convenient (and cheaper!) than whole beans. If you can't find it at your local grocery store, you can find it online (see link [here]).
I typically use a warmed apricot jam to glaze the inside of the baked crust (to keep it from getting soggy) and the fruit (to keep it from drying out). Apricot jam is great for this, because it has a neutral flavor and won't show any color on your fruit. The glaze is optional, however. I chose not to glaze this particular tart because I was serving it immediately after assembly.
The real beauty of this tart is that, although I never stray from the recipe, I can change up the look and flavors of the tart with the fruit. I arranged the tart so that when it was cut each person would have a fruit rainbow on their plate. I meant to get a pretty pic of a slice, but the entire thing was sliced and eaten in about 5 minutes flat. Like I said: it's that good.
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I got this recipe years ago when I attended a fruit tart class at Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI (link here). I've baaaarely adapted it here.
Classic Fruit Tart
Sweet Pastry (Pâte Sucrée):
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream:
- fresh fruit, as desired
- apricot jam, for glazing, if desired (see note)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed just until combined, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add egg and orange zest, mixing to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the pastry flour. Mix just until the dough starts to come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times (the more you handle the dough, the less tender it will be!) until the dough is smooth. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
- Spray pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- After the dough has chilled, place on a lightly floured surface. Roll to desired shape (see note). The dough should be about ⅛" thick and about 1" larger than the pan you are using.
- Roll dough up onto the rolling pin, position next to pan, and then unroll the pastry into the pan. Avoid stretching the dough, as it can cause it to shrink while baking. Trim the edges of the dough. Patch any tears or holes in the dough with the excess.
- Dock the dough with a fork and freeze 20 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375F.
- Remove crust from the freezer, line with foil or parchment paper, and fill with pie weights (see note). Bake crust 18 minutes, then remove the foil/parchment and pie weights. Return to the oven to bake an additional 8-10 minutes, or until golden.
- Allow crust to cool completely on a wire rack.
For Pastry Cream:
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cream, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla bean paste (see note), and salt. Cook mixture oven over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, ¼ cup sugar, and egg yolks. Whisk until smooth.
- Using a measuring cup, pour about one cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This step tempers the eggs. Once the mixture is combined, pour the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream mixture.
- Cook pastry cream over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it just starts to boil. Mixture will thicken as it cooks.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk the pastry cream until it cools slightly. Beat in butter and vanilla extract.
- Pour the pastry cream into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic, pressing the wrap to the surface of the pastry cream to ensure it doesn't form a skin. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
Glaze (see note):
- If you'd like to glaze your fruit, place about ¼ cup apricot jam in a small heatproof bowl and microwave on 15-second bursts, stirring after each burst, until the jam has a smooth, thin consistency.
Assembly (see note):
- If using glaze, you can brush the glaze on the surface of the crust, which will help the crust to not get soggy if you're assembling the tart in advance.
- Fill cooled crust with pastry cream, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Top with fresh whole or sliced fruit as desired.
- If using glaze, brush glaze over the tops of the fruit until all the fruit is glazed and shiny.Enjoy!