The minute the weather starts warming up, I start dreaming about the fresh fruits to come: First rhubarb, then strawberries, then cherries, and finally, apricots, raspberries, blueberries and peaches all at once.
To get you ready for summer baking, I thought an elegant, classic fruit tart would be ideal. This fruit flan uses a cookie-like tart base with a sweet vanilla pastry cream filling, and you get to be creative with the fruit on top — any summer fruit would make this a truly showstopping dessert.
Makes: 1 9-inch tart
Serves: 8 to 10
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
2 oz white chocolate, chopped
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups seasonal summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, Blueberries, apricots or peaches, in any combination
3 Tbsp apple jelly
1. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in the egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until firm.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Knead the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to soften enough that it can be easily rolled. Dust the pastry a little and roll it out to just over 11-inches in diameter and just under a ¼-inch thick. Line a 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan and trim the edges. Chill the pastry for 20 minutes in the fridge or 10 minutes in the freezer.
3. Dock the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork and bake it for 16 to 20 minutes, until just the edges are golden brown and the centre of the shell is dry looking. Cool completely before filling.
4. Keep the baked tart shell in its pan. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring until melted. Brush the bottom and sides of the cooled tart shell to coat and chill the shell while preparing the pastry cream.
5. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepot until just below a simmer. Whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour this entire mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk. Whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it thickens and just begins to bubble, about 3 to 4 minutes. Strain the custard into a bowl, stir in the vanilla and butter until melted and cover the bowl with plastic wrap so the wrap directly covers the surface of the custard. Cool the custard to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.
6. To assemble the tart, spoon the custard into the tart shell and spread it evenly. Top the custard with the fresh fruit, creating an appealing design. Melt the apple jelly over low heat, and then brush it over the fruit. Chill the tart until you are ready to serve.
Note: The tart can be stored chilled for up to a day.