A couple weeks ago, I made a fruit tart during my weekly baking lessons. It wasn’t particularly delicious because the cream filling was overly starchy, but the sweet pastry crust had me sold. I brought the leftover dough home and promptly stowed it in the freezer.
With school out and the holidays in, I finally have the time to catch up on my baking. After making some Homemade Granola, a half-successful Lemon Meringue Pie and an Orange Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Italian Meringue Frosting, I made a simple fruit tart, filled with pastry cream and decorated with fresh figs. The tart is super simple to make and can be assembled in stages.
First the pastry is made and then allowed to rest. At this point, the pastry can be frozen, or rolled out and then frozen in the tart shell. Then the vanilla pastry cream is thickened over the stove-top and left in the fridge to cool. Again, this can be done the day before. The tart shell is baked until golden and then filled with pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. Sliced figs are placed on top for a beautiful finish.
This Fig Tart might be four months late, give or take, but I don’t look upon birthdays as strict deadlines for gifts. To me, occasions are just reminders to cherish the people you care about. If the sheer volume of baked goods I make for others is any indication, I do that all the time.
Click below for the recipe.
Fruit Tart Filled With Pastry Cream and Topped with Fresh Figs
Adapted from: George Brown Baking Arts Manual and The French Chef by Julia Child
Note: The recipe for the shortbread pie crust makes enough pastry for two 10-inch tart shells. Just divide the dough in half and freeze the other one for convenience.
- 150 grams sugar
- 225 grams (½ pound) butter
- 4 grams salt
- 5 grams vanilla
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 440 grams pastry flour
- 5 grams baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- figs, for garnish
For the crust: In a large bowl, cream the sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually and mix until combined. Add the milk. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the flour to the butter and blend until smooth. Knead the dough until it just comes together. Divide the dough into two discs and wrap individually. Chill one (if using immediately) and freeze the second disc for another use.
Preheat the oven to 425F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 3/8-inch thick and line a 10-inch tart shell with pastry. Dock the bottom with a fork and line with a layer of tin foil. Fill with pie weights (or dry, uncooked beans) and bake for 10 minutes until set (longer if your pie crust was frozen). Remove the tin foil and pie weights and continue to bake for 5-7 minutes until the dough has browned lightly. Once the tart shell is cool, unmold and place on a serving platter.
For the pastry cream: Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and sprinkle about half the sugar onto the bottom of the pan. Do not stir (the sugar will keep the milk was burning at the bottom, meaning you don’t have to scrub out the pot). Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out. Drop the vanilla bean and the seeds in the milk and bring to a simmer on medium heat.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, flour, and remaining sugar together. While beating with a whisk, gradually pour the hot milk in a thin stream. Strain the custard back into the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the cream thickens. Once the cream is thick, immediately scrape into a cool bowl, cover (with the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream), and chill. The pastry cream can also be frozen.
In a large bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the cooled pastry cream and pour into the cooled tart shell. Slice the figs into quarters or eighths and arrange over top the cream. Keep chilled.