Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

fresh fruit tart

Remember back in May when I made the Balsamic-Macerated Strawberry Tart with Whipped Mascarpone Filling for my dad’s birthday? Well, today’s post is a follow-up to that story. It turns out that making someone a surprise dessert isn’t necessarily the best idea, or maybe it’s wonderful, I don’t know…I suppose it depends on how many desserts you’d like to have for your celebration.

As it turns out, he ended up with two tarts that day. One was from me. The other was one — a fresh fruit tart — that he selected from the pastry case at The Buttery in Santa Cruz after he and my mom wandered down Route 1 from Half Moon Bay. When I walked in the door and he spotted the tart that I held, the look on his face said, “no way.” Of course, I was initially concerned that I made a huge mistake, and didn’t really know my dad’s tastes at all. Thankfully though, that wasn’t the case at all, it wasn’t a negative “no way” face at all, more a what are the chances variety. Everyone got a good laugh and the gluten-eaters in the crowd dug into both for a bit of a tart throwdown.

fresh fruit tart side view

This fresh fruit tart recipe is my replication of the one from The Buttery. It’s not uncommon for a gluten-ful (oh yes, just wait for that to show up in the dictionary) version to go for at least $30 at a bakery or Whole Foods, but making one from scratch costs no where near that sum. Plus, it’s really nice to be able to customize the fruit to individual tastes and seasonal availability.

And if you’re curious about the results from the birthday taste test, here they are:

– Crust: Mine won, hands down, both for texture and flavor.
– Filling: A little difficult to compare a sweet pastry cream and more tart/savory mascarpone filling. Correcting for the inherent family bias, I’m going to say it was a tie.
– Fruit: Came down to quality and preparation. The strawberries I used were much fresher in comparison to all of their fruit (to their credit, this was partly due to their use of some out-of-season produce varieties). Also, I took the time to core the strawberries, the effort didn’t go unnoticed.

and one more from the top

Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

(Pastry Cream adapted from Tartine)

Active Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Inactive Preparation Time: 2 hours+

Baking Time: 30-35 minutes (25 minutes with pie weights, 5-10 without)

Serves: 8


Pastry Cream Filling:

  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) Vanilla Sugar (see recipe below)
  • 24 grams (3 tablespoons) Cornstarch
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 large Egg Yolks, reserve egg whites for another use
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean, split pod and scrape out seeds, reserve pod for another use
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed

Sweet Tart Shell:

  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) Granulated White Sugar
  • 46 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Millet Flour
  • 46 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Garbanzo Fava Bean Flour
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) Potato Starch
  • 24 grams (3 tablespoons) Arrowroot Starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons) cold, Unsalted Butter, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) Water
  • Millet Flour, for rolling

Fruit and Glaze:

  • 2 Nectarines or Peaches, slice each into 12 wedges
  • 6 whole Strawberries, remove stems and core
  • 1 Kiwi, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pint (2-3 ounces) Blackberries
  • 1/4 pint (2-3 ounces) Raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons Apricot Preserves, warmed and strained just before glazing fruit (optional)


Make Pastry Cream:

In a small, heatproof bowl (2 quart), whisk together vanilla sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in egg and egg yolks; set aside. In a small, non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat combine milk, salt and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk constantly until the milk is steaming, and just about ready to simmer.

Whisk hot milk in a slow stream into egg mixture. Return milk and egg mix to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer. (It will thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and “snail trails” can be formed in the cream — see this photo).

Remove pastry cream from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Whisk in butter. Place bowl in an ice bath and whisk to cool the pastry cream quickly. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of cream, cover bowl with another sheet and refrigerate until well-chilled.

DO AHEAD: Pastry cream may be made up to five days in advance.

Make Tart Shell:

Whisk together sugar through salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle in butter pieces. Fit stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix until the butter and flour mixture resembles peas. Add egg and water; mix until the dough just begins to form. If the dough has gotten too warm at this point, form it into a thick disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes until firmed up but still pliable enough to roll.

Lightly flour work surface with flour and roll the dough into a 12″ circle. Fit the dough into a 9 1/2″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; make sure there aren’t any air bubbles or cracks. Fold the excess dough back into the pan so that the sides of the tart are now about double the thickness of the bottom. Neatly trim away excess dough around the top of the pan.

Freeze for a minimum of 1 hour (up to 3 months) before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove tart from freezer and place on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment paper over tart and fill with ceramic pie weights (see this photo for clarification, if needed).

Place tart (baking sheet and all) on the center rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes; carefully remove pie weights (I usually do this by gathering the four corners of the square of parchment, making a little sack). Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned (7 minutes was the magic number for me). Remove from oven and cool completely in the tart pan before filling (about 1 hour).

Fill Tart and Arrange Fruit:

Spread chilled filling in cooled tart shell. Arrange nectarines, overlapping slightly, on top of the pastry cream in a ring around the edge of the tart. Place strawberries in a ring next to the nectarines leaving a circle of exposed pastry crem in the center. Fill the remaining center space with raspberries and blackberries; arrange any extras around the crust on top of the nectarines. Overlap kiwi in a ring around the strawberries. If glazing tart, gently dot fruit with strained preserves using a pastry brush. Place tart in the refrigerator or serve immediately.

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  • Reply
    Holly Henry
    August 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I’m a firm believer that you can make most anything better at home! Your tart is no exception! It looks delicious and a definite keeper of a recipe!!!

    Thanks for sharing:)

  • Reply
    August 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    The tart looks wonderful….. I bet yours was much better. 🙂

  • Reply
    Christine's Pantry
    August 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Tart looks wonderful. Great photo. Well done.

  • Reply
    August 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Fruit tart is my favorite dessert! BUZZED!

  • Reply
    heather sage
    September 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Thank you all for the kind words!

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