Turn out a classic French fruit tart just like at a French patisserie! In Summer when there's an abundance of fruit one of the best desserts is a classic French fruit tart. With a buttery vanilla Pâte Sablée pastry, silky smooth custard and colourful fresh fruit this is a crowd pleaser of a dessert! This also makes a spectacular Christmas dessert and it is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
There are three components to a classic French fruit tart: the Pâte Sablée base, the silky custard and the fruit. That's all and you do need all of these elements to be spot on. If you want to serve an easy dessert that can be made ahead of time and assembled on the day this classic French fruit tart is perfect.
6 Reasons why this Pâte Sablée or French tart pastry is incredible!
1 . Flavour: it tastes like crisp vanilla shortbread
2. It can be re-rolled and patched easily: it also seals up beautifully and can be rolled an rerolled over and over again.
3. It doesn't stick to the tin: once baked it pulls back from the baking tin and doesn't stick at all. This makes it easy to slide out into a box or to cut slices from.
4. No baking weights needed! This tart pastry doesn't require any baking weights or anything added on top to weigh it down. Just dock with a fork and bake!
5. This pastry does not shrink down on the sides when baked. Pastry that has water added to it or that hasn't been rested or chilled prior to baking tends to shrink so that the sides of the tart pull down but this one doesn't!
6. A tip to keep the pastry crisp: to keep the pastry crisp brush it with some egg white on the base and bake for another 10 minutes to seal it up. Also use a baking tin with holes in it which allows the pastry to cook better.
Promise me you'll try this pastry at least once (although I suspect it won't be the only time)!
Look at that silky custard!
The custard is also exceptional. It is silky and smooth and just the right level of sweetness. I make the custard in the Thermomix as it hands down makes the best custard in.the.world. Not only do you not have to stand there stirring but it's always silky. So much so that everyone that had this dessert remarked on the custard's remarkable texture.
Use any fruit on top! Really all fruit works for this tart. I used fresh fruit and tinned pineapple because this was for someone that loves pineapple.
The glaze is a simple apricot jam glaze. Many French bakeries use a clear glaze that you buy in a commercial sized tub but apricot jam adds flavour and a beautiful sheen that lasts.
The good news and the bad news is that it uses a lot of eggs, specifically egg yolks. Please do not be tempted to use whole eggs in place of yolks. Egg yolks give both a richness you need for the right texture (crispy dough and a silky custard). So this is great if you need egg whites to make macarons or meringue/pavlova. Egg whites freeze very well for up to 1 year.
Also try and fill this on the day that you serve it so avoid the pastry getting soggy from the custard.
Other recipes for extra egg whites: Perfect Pavlova, Pavlova Grazing Platter, Brown Sugar Pavlova, Iced Vovo Pavlova, Golden Gaytime Pavlova, Black Forest Pavlova, Surprise Gift Pavlovas, Christmas Tree Pavlova, Mango Passionfruit Pavlova, Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches, Candy Cane Macaron Baubles and Salted Caramel Macarons just to name a few!
I made this tart for Valentina's husband Peter's recent birthday party. I've known Valentina for many years but we started to hang out a lot over the past couple of years ever since she offered to show me some of her family Cypriot recipes and we adore her and her family. They're the loveliest people and when we were talking about his birthday I offered to make his birthday cake.
Finding out Peter's favourite cake however required a bit of subtle investigation. Peter is like Mr NQN, a bit on the quieter side so cajoling that information out of him would be a challenge. So over the space of a few dinners we started talking about cakes and which ones we liked when the conversation swung around to dessert.
"I don't like cake," said Peter, much like Mr NQN. Our faces fell a little. Peter does have one weakness though and that is pineapple pizza. Not ham and pineapple pizza but just pineapple pizza. And that got us onto the idea of fruit where he conceded that if he were to eat any dessert it would be a fruit tart. Which is why this fruit tart has pineapple on it.
With our cake intelligence mission completed, I made this classic fruit tart for the party that evening. I actually made two since there were around 20 people and this rectangular one was easiest to cut up and divide. We arrived at their daughter Katie's apartment at 6:30pm for the surprise party and at 7pm Valentina rang the buzzer. Valentina had brought him here on the pretense that they were having drinks before going for dinner. Everyone quickly huddled in the corner and remained silent with not a peep or squeak from a single soul.
"SURPRISE!!!!" we yelled as the door opened. Peter was very surprised and Valentina and her family had pulled off the perfect surprise party. She had it catered and there was a waiter serving food and drinks all night and it was a great night. And thankfully the tarts were very well received - after my last custard disaster with this crowd for Valentina's birthday last year I was determined to right that wrong.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you enjoy a classic fruit tart? Have you ever been part of a surprise party either as a guest or as the recipient? Did they suspect anything?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Classic French Fruit Tart
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 6 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 60 minutes plus 30 minutes freezing time. Custard and pastry are best made 1 day ahead
Cooking time: 30 minutes
For Pastry (Pâte Sablée)
- 330g/11.6ozs. flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 170g/6ozs. butter, softened and cubed
- 135g/4.7ozs. icing sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg white (to glaze the base)
- 115g/4ozs. caster or superfine sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornflour/fine cornstarch
- 250ml/8.8flozs. cream
- 170ml/6flozs. milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For Fruit Topping
- 600-700g/21-25ozs. mixed fresh fruit
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon water
I used a 30x20cms/12x8inch rectangular tray but this can also suit a 28cm/11inch tart tin
Step 1 - I like to make the pastry cream and the pastry the night before so that it they both have time to cool. To make the pastry, whisk the flour and salt together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer using a beater attachment on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add in the egg yolks and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Then mix in the flour on low speed until it starts to come together.
Step 2 - Place on a surface and knead and then roll out to 3-5mm (about 1/5 inch) thickness between two sheets of parchment. Place on a baking tray and put in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.
Step 3 - Make the custard. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together and add the cornflour/cornstarch. In a saucepan heat the cream and milk together until almost boiling. Reduce heat to low medium and add in the egg mixture and stir to prevent it sticking to the bottom. Try not to overstir. Allow to thicken and coat the back of a spoon. It will thicken further on cooling.
Creamy custard in the Thermomix
Thermomix directions: I prefer making custard in the Thermomix as it produces the silkiest custard and you don't have to stand there stirring it. Place the sugar, egg yolks, cornflour, cream, milk and vanilla in the bowl and set to 7 minutes, 90C speed #4. Cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and allow to cool, then place in the fridge.
Covering surface of the custard with cling film
Cutting out base in pastry
Step 4 - Take the pastry out of the fridge and gently remove the parchment and dust with flour on both sides. I take the removable tart base and cut around it and then place the pastry on the base. Then I cut the sides of the case and place around it. At this stage the pastry will soften enough so you can press the pastry together to seal. You don't want any gaps in the pastry as the custard will leak.
Trimming edges of pastry
Docking holes with fork
Step 5 - Trim the sides so that they are flush with the top of the tin. Dock holes with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Bake for 20 minutes or until almost cooked in the centre. Brush the base with a little egg white to seal the pastry to keep the pastry crisp and bake for another 8-10 minutes. You want this crisp like a biscuit or cookie.
Filling with custard
Step 6 - Once the pastry has cooled fill with the custard and smooth out with an angled spatula. Place fruit on top. Then mix the apricot jam with the water and microwave for 20 seconds until liquid. Brush over the fruit. To transport this, leave this in the tart tin and cover the fruit top with parchment paper and then wrap in cling film. You can remove it from the tin easily too but I keep it in the tin just to give it more support.
Brushing with apricot jam glaze