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Monday, July 20, 2009

Fresh Berry Tart

I have wanted to make a tart for a very long time - years even - and in particular this Fresh Berry Tart, as it's on the cover of one of my favorite cookbooks. Unfortunately, I did not have a tart pan and could never rationalize buying one just to satisfy my tart-making urge. Earlier this summer, my mom gave me a hand-me-down tart pan, and I couldn't wait to use it. My cousin's birthday was in mid-June, and she loves fresh fruit, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with my first tart. 

Like I've said before, the recipes in the Pie and Pastry Bible are lengthy and include a lot of details, which are extremely helpful but can make assembling a dessert like this somewhat overwhelming. For example, the book groups recipes by type - the dough recipes are first, followed by the pastry cream recipes, and then other recipes for add-ins. This means that the actual tart recipe refers you to one page for the crust recipe, to another for the pastry cream, and then to a third for the whipped cream that is added to the pastry cream. I'm exhausted just thinking about it! :) I hope that I've been able to simplify the recipe here. When broken down into steps, it's really not that difficult or time consuming, it just takes some organization. 

I dropped this tart off with my cousin on her birthday, but there was a little extra dough and filling, so I filled a ramekin with it so Bob and I could taste test beforehand. We really liked this tart, especially the pastry cream! I will definitely be trying more varieties in the future!

Fresh Berry Tart

1 batch Sweet Cookie Tart Crust (see recipe below)
1 batch Whipped Cream Pastry Cream (see recipe below)
3-4 cups fresh berries, rinsed and dried
3 Tablespoons + 1/3 cup apricot preserves, warmed and strained 

1. Brush cooled crust with 3 Tablespoons strained warmed apricot preserves. 

2. Put whipped cream pastry cream inside shell. Arrange fruit on top. Refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

3. Brush strained warmed apricot preserves (~1/3 cup) on top. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour before serving.

Sweet Cookie Tart Crust
(Pate Sucree)

For a 9 1/2- or 10-inch by 1-inch tart pan

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup superfine sugar (can pulse regular sugar in food processor to make superfine)
200 grams (1 1/2 scant cups - dip and sweep method) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

1. Prepare the tart pan by greasing and lightly flouring, tapping out excess flour (or use Baker's Joy).

2. In a food processor with a metal blade, pulse the butter and sugar about 15 times or until the butter is no larger than small peas. 

3. In a small bowl, stir together the yolk and cream. Add it to the mixture and pulse just until incorporated, about 8 times. The dough will still be in crumbly pieces. Empty into a plastic bag and press the dough from the outside just until it holds together.

4. Remove the dough from the plastic bad and place it on a very large piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, knead the dough a few times until the dough becomes one smooth piece. Flatten it into a 6-inch disc.

5. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or freeze for 10 minutes until firm enough to pat into the pan or to roll. 

6. Roll the dough to 11 inches (for a 9 1/2-inch tart pan) between pieces of floured plastic wrap. Slip dough onto a baking sheet and into the refrigerator for a few minutes before transferring to the tart pan. 

7. Put dough into pan and chill 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400F (for at least 20 minutes before baking crust).

8. Spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray and fit into tart, add rice or beans as weights.

9. Bake tart on a baking sheet for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 375F for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. If not set, the dough will stick to the parchment paper. If this is the case, lift out the weights with the parchment and prick dough lightly, then continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more.

Pastry Cream

2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 liquid cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter 

1. Have a strainer set over a small bowl near the range.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs and cornstarch. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the half-and-half, whisking until the mixture is smooth and the cornstarch is dissolved.

3. Place the sugar in a medium, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Stir in the remaining 1 3/4 cups half-and-half and the salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Whisk 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the egg mixture. Pass the egg mixture through a strainer into a small bowl. 

4. Bring the half-and-half mixture back to a boil over medium heat. Quickly add all of the egg mixture, whisking rapidly. Continue whisking rapidly for about 20 to 30 seconds, being sure to go to the bottom edge of the pan. 

5. The mixture will become very thick. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter. Whisk in the vanilla extract at this point. 

6. Immediately pour the mixture into a bowl and place a piece of greased plastic wrap directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold.

7. For whipped cream pastry cream, fold whipped cream into the plain pastry cream. Use from 1/2 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped. To prevent thinning, it is preferable to use gelatin-stabilized whipped cream (see Superstabilized Whipped Cream below).

Superstabilized Whipped Cream

1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 liquid cup heavy cream, cold
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Refrigerate the mixing bowl and beater for at least 15 minutes.

2. In a small heatproof measuring cup, place the gelatin and water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Set the cup in a pan of simmering water for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the gelatin is dissolved (or microwave on high power for a few seconds, stirring once of twice). Set it aside briefly. (The mixture must still be warm, or it will lump when added to the cold cream.)

3. In the chilled mixing bowl, beat the cream and sugar until the cream just begins to thicken. Gradually beat in the warm gelatin mixture and beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Store:  Refrigerated, up to 3 days

Source:  Adapted from the Pie and Pastry Bible


  1. So dilish..sooo beautiful.
    I too cant justify a tart pan right now.

  2. This is so pretty--almost too pretty to eat!!

  3. Too funny! I have a fresh fruit tart post waiting in the wings! I just need to get motivated to write. Looks beautiful! I love tarts for the summer.

  4. This looks SO fantastic. LOVE those pictures.

  5. What a gorgeous tart! Yay for getting a tart pan - it's one of my favorites to use. The pastry cream does sound amazing!

  6. I love these berry tarts and they come out beautifully. I almost hate to cut into them but who can resist? You did a gorgeous job.

  7. What a beautiful tart! and so perfect with all the fresh berries available right now. Wish I could have a piece. Great pics!


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