After a decidedly wintry April here in Toronto (complete with snow and ice storms), May has brought some downright summery days. Seriously, I went from wearing a winter jacket to t-shirt + sandals in the span of a few days!
While chocolate is always in season for me, the warmer temps do put me in the mood for light, fruity desserts — preferably those that don’t require much oven time. Fruit tarts are one of my go-to desserts because they’re easy to make ahead. Both the crust and filling can be prepared a few days in advance. When you’re ready to serve all that’s left to do is fill the tart and pile on some fresh fruit, and you’re golden!
This classic fruit tart recipe is from Giselle Courteau’s Duchess Bake Shop: French-Inspired Recipes from Our Bakery to Your Home. This lovely cookbook is full of gorgeous recipes ranging from rustic pies to fancy gateaus to elegant pate a choux, all designed with the home baker in mind. It’s beautifully photographed and includes photo tutorials for items such as croissants and danishes — always a nice feature for those like me who learn visually. I love the mix of quick recipes and weekend projects, and look forward to test-driving more of these recipes in the months to come.
“Pastry and desserts are for celebrating, spending time with family and friends, and treating ourselves. Have fun with it and don’t take it all too seriously. If you don’t succeed on your first try, don’t give up: every time you make a recipe, you’ll learn something new to improve it next time. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and be sure to take pride in your end result, whether it looks like the picture or not.”
-Giselle Courteau, Duchess Bake Shop (p. 14)
Fresh Fruit Tart
Makes one 8 or 9 inch tart
- 1 fully-baked tart shell (I used this recipe)
For the pastry cream:
- 365g (1 1/2 c) whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced open lengthwise
- 80g (1/3 c + 1 Tbsp) egg yolks
- 15g (2 Tbsp) cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 40g (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
- Fresh fruit of your choice (berries recommended)
- 1/4 c apricot jam (I used apple)
- 1 tsp water
- Fresh lemon zest, for garnish (optional)
For the pastry cream:
- Heat the milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan until scalding.
- While the milk is heating, place the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until the yolks have lightened in color. This will take a few minutes of vigorous whisking. Whisk in the cornstarch and salt.
- Remove the vanilla bean from the heated milk and using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds back into the milk.
- Slowly drizzle the hot milk into the yolk mixture while continuing to whisk. If you add the hot milk too quickly the eggs will curdle and your pastry cream will come out lumpy.
- Once all the milk has been added, transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and continue cooking for 5 minutes more, whisking the entire time.
- Remove from heat. Immediately strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Add the butter and whisk until smooth, or, if you want your pastry cream even smoother, use an immersion blender.
- Cover the pastry cream and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until set.
To assemble the tart:
- Use a spatula to slightly break up the cold pastry cream. Fill the tart shell with pastry cream to just slightly below the rim, spreading it out smoothly with a knife or a small offset spatula.
- Arrange the fresh berries or other fruit in a pattern on top.
- In a microwave or over the stove, gently melt the apricot jam with the water — without letting it come to a boil — and brush it generously over the top of the fruit. Garnish with fresh lemon zest. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until ready to serve.
From Duchess Bake Shop: French-Inspired Recipes from Our Baker to Your Home. Reprinted by permission.