Saturday, 6 November 2010

A Craving for Custard

You'd think that with the amount of custard I make at the restaurant for ice creams, that when I get home I would be ecstatic not to have to stand over the stove, whisking away for dear life praying that the viscous, yellow liquid doesn't curdle.
Actually, I find all that whisking to be very theraputic and I can easily loose myself in my thoughs while I wait for the mixture to thicken. Once I've tested it one the back of the spoon for thickness, an immense satisfaction comes and I put the beater down and smile.
Besides, this is generously filled with creme patissiere - a richer French custard to the traditional English custard.

This is something that I made for us to eat one hot Sunday evening several months ago now, when I was able to pick up all of the fruit at the farmer's market.

Miniature Tarte aux Fruits

For the sweet pastry
500g plain flour, plus extra for dustingSieve the flour from a height on to a clean work surface and sieve the icing sugar over the top.
100g icing sugar, sifted
250g good-quality cold butter, cut into small cubes
zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, beaten
a splash of cold milk
For the creme patisserie
300 ml milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
50g granulated white sugar
20g plain flour
3 tablespoons corn flour
For the fruit and glaze
As many mixed berries, kiwi or other fruits you feel necessary
125g apricot jam
1tbsp water

Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. 
Mix in your lemon zest.

Add the eggs and enough milk to the mixture till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5.
Grease a 12 holed cupcake tray.
After the pastry has rested, roll it out to 4mm thickness on a lighty floured surface and cut out circles to match the size of your cupcake holes on the tray.
Gently press each pastry disk into the greased cupcake moulds and cover with a small square of baking parchment. Place a few ceramic beans in each and bake blind in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Leave to cool in the tray before turning the pastry cases out to be filled. Store in an airtight container until needed.
In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If the mixture does curdle slightly, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture.
Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.
Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool.
If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water (if using) in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. (If using, add the liqueur at this point.) Let cool until it is only slightly warm.
Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze over the bottom and sides of tart to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry for about 20 minutes.
Spread the Pastry Cream into the tart, filling about 3/4 full and levelling with a palette knife.
Decorate the tart with the fruit, arranging it neatly or randomly as you desire.
After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. Do not put it on too thick or it will look like Jell-O. Try not to get any glaze on the tart shell. The idea is to make the fruit look shiny. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.
This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled.


  1. These are gorgeous! What a great idea. I have seen a fruit pizza but its really cool to have individual tartes! I love it :)

  2. love it!!!! How many recipe!

  3. Your tarts look so lovely! I've never seen a kiwi tart, I'm sure it was delicious...

  4. Your pictures are stunning and so inviting! With these tarts anytime is tea time for me. Delicious!

  5. They're so pretty! I love the shiny glaze - it makes me want to take a bite!