It's been a long time since I've made a fruit tart, because you have to plan ahead for the crust and for the pastry cream. (Also, my fridge is small and once you put in an 8" tart, a bowl of pastry cream and the fruit for the topping, there's no room left!) The plus side of making a fruit tart is that there's virtually no work to do on the day of serving except assembly work: just scrape the cream into the tart and pile the fruit on top. It's the perfect make-ahead summer dessert.
For a friend's birthday, I decided to revisit the fresh fruit tart that I made a couple of years ago. This time, I used different recipes than in my previous post. Jon brought back his copy of Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques from the US, and I gave Pépin's pâté sucrée (tart dough) and crème pâtissière (pastry cream) recipes a whirl.
The crust was rich, sweet and crumbly, yet still was sturdy enough to hold both the filling and to travel (hand-delivered in a box) across town by train! I would make the pâté sucrée again but would reduce the amount of sugar, and perhaps play with the flour amount by adding some almond flour.
The crème pâtissière was far too sweet for my liking. I would reduce the amount of sugar by half but otherwise, this recipe was a keeper. I threw in some Cointreau and lemon zest in, too. Despite its name, pastry cream is really just a thick custard - no cream involved (unless you substitute some of the milk for cream).
Here's the separate parts of the tart, all ready for assembly: pastry cream, chocolate tart and fruit.
I melted some chocolate the day before, spread it over the tart, and let it cool. The chocolate layer helps prevent the fruit and cream from turning the crust soggy. If you don't like chocolate (!) you can brush the tart with a thick layer of eggwash during the last 10 minutes of baking instead - that will also waterproof your tart crust.
Fresh fruit waiting to be assembled.
This is the fun part. I'm not very artistic, so I just arranged the fruit in a roughly circular pattern.
The finished product. Chill until ready to be served. It only lasts about 1 day before the crust gets too soggy (even with the chocolate barrier), so eat this tart right away!