Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer... Baked in a Tart

     My dad loved bakeries.  Actually, what he really loved were baked goods.  If my mom did not keep him supplied in his favorite desserts, he would eventually find his way to a local bakery.  Not all bakeries were created equal in his mind, so different bakeries filled different needs.  Everbest Bakery was the place to go for Sunday morning rolls, coconut buns and danish.  George's was the place to get a California crumb cake to bring to Aunt Ann and Uncle Joe's down in Rockaway on Saturday night.  Riesterers had the best Christmas specialties, like Linzer torte and gingerbread.  Malverne bakery was his go to place for open fruit cakes, tarts and pies.  I loved to go to the Malverne Bakery with him.  On a RARE occasion, he would bring home a 7 layer cake.  I always hoped that he would spring for a chocolate cake, but oddly enough, the man who loved his desserts, hated chocolate cake.  The Malverne bakery had the BEST chocolate cake!  I had experience their chocolaty perfection many times at my friends' birthday parties.  I don't know why I went with him.  It was such a disappointment when he picked the fruit tart or french apple cake.  When I was 8 years old, I firmly believed that fruit had no place on a cake, and peach skin, BLAH!  Now that 8 years old is just a distant memory, I've learned that there is life beyond chocolate and fruit has its place in the world of desserts.
      I love the look of a fresh fruit tart.  I love the delicate golden crust.  I love the perfection of the fruit.  I love the glisten of the glaze.  The perfect fruit tart is a feast for the eyes and as well as the soul.  A fresh fruit tart is a fitting dessert for weekend BBQ or a New England Clam Bake.  It is a celebration of the season baked in a crust.  I usually bake simple tarts.  I choose a fruit in the season, bake it in a sweet buttery crust and lightly brush the whole thing with an orange or apricot glaze.   But every once in a while, I pull out all the stops and go for the bells and whistles.  I'm talking custard, berries, peaches, kiwi and yes, just a touch of bourbon.

Summer Fruit Tart 
Click for Printable Recipe

Adapted from Mixed Berry TartWilliams-Sonoma Recipes
Makes one 9" tart

For the pastry:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour  (more flour for rolling out the dough)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted COLD butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
For the custard:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 extra large egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon (you can omit the alcohol and increase the vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup strawberries, halved
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 or 2 peaches, sliced
  • 2 kiwis, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (you can use water)
Prepare the Pastry -  In a food processor combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture looks crumbly.  In a small bowl whisk the egg yolk with the cream until combined.  Add the egg and cream mixture to the crumbly mixture, and pulse until just mixed.  Dough will not be pulled together.  Dump dough out on floured board.
Press together and knead 4 times. Pat dough into a round disk.  Work quickly and do not over-handle.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Making the Custard -  While dough is chilling, prepare the custard.  Using the whisk attachment of a hand-held blender or mixer, combine the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch.  Whisk until mixture turns light yellow.
 In a 1 1/2 or 2 quart saucepan, heat milk, vanilla and bourbon over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer.  
Whisk half of the simmering milk into the egg yolk mixture.  Continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.  Whisk that mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture.  Whisk constantly while custard cooks over medium low heat and begins to thicken and bubbles begin to appear.  This will take about 2 minutes.  Be sure to scrape edges and sides of pan while cooking because mixture can scorch easily.
When mixture has thickened, remove pan from heat and transfer custard to a bowl.  Cut out a circle of parchment or wax paper to fit the inside of the bowl and lay it down directly on top of the custard.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least an hour.  

Making the Pastry Shell -Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove pastry dough from refrigerator.
On a floured board, roll dough into an 11 inch circle.  Transfer dough to a 9 inch tart pan.  If dough breaks or tears, you can patch it in the pan.
Trim off edges.  I like to lightly press dough into place with the bottom of a glass.  
Line pastry with a sheet of parchment or foil (I ran out of parchment this time and foil worked fine). Fill with pie weights.  (rice or beans make good weights too)
Bake in the lower third of a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.  
After 10 minutes, take tart out of oven and remove weights and parchment (or foil).  Pierce the bottom (randomly around the bottom) of the tart with a fork.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees, return tart shell to the oven and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  
Place baked shell on a cooling rack.  Cool for at least an hour.

Glaze and Assembly:

Remove custard from refrigerator, remove parchment and stir custard.
Spread custard into cooled pastry shell.
Arrange fruit on top of custard starting from the outside edge and working your way to the center if you are using any sliced fruit.  If you are just using berries, work from the inside out.
Brush top of fruit with warm glaze.
Serve and enjoy!
Some afterthoughts:
The pastry and custard can be made early in the day.  Assemble and glaze just before serving.
Brandy or Amaretto would be a nice substitute for bourbon.
You can use low fat milk for the custard.  I use what I have on hand.  The higher the fat content, the creamier the custard.  You decide.
My dad would have LOVED this tart.  


  1. What a healthy delightful colors of health giving treat.

  2. Wow, this really IS summer in a tart! This recipe may take a bit longer to prepare, but it sure is worth it!


  3. T and Tea Cake - The actual preparation time is not that long. The time is in making the pastry, chilling and cooling. The custard cooks in a snap, and that can cool as the pastry cools. You're right, it is worth it!