The Classic Fruit French Tart, a sweet pastry crust filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with fresh fruits, is an ultimate Summer French dessert. A refreshing yet decadent tart that’s perfect for hosting. Let’s go deeper to discover each component :
The crust: « pâte sucrée ».
A pâte sucrée is a buttery, sweet, cookie-like pastry crust generally used in French baking for tarts featuring cream or custards. The combination of butter and powdered sugar creates a melt-in-your-mouth texture, which balances perfectly with the smooth vanilla pastry cream and juicy, fresh fruits. The crust gets baked on its own , before being filled with the pastry cream and topped with fruits. You can also bake it the day prior, to save time. Once baked, keep the crust unfilled in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
The pastry cream: “crème pâtissière ».
This pastry cream is known as “crème pâtissière”. French crème pâtissière is a custard flavored with vanilla, that is thickened using eggs and egg yolks.
Fresh, seasonal fruits are really the stars of the show here. Being a classic Summer dessert, the tart often features summer berries along with kiwis for a nice contrast of color. In general, any soft fresh fruits work here: sliced mango, sliced peaches, halved apricots, etc. Avoid crunchy fruits, such as apples or pears.
The glaze: apricot jam.
Apricot jam is commonly used for glazing fruit tarts in France. The apricot jam is slowly heated and passed through a fine mesh strainer to discard any chunks. Although less traditional, other jams work perfectly too: strawberry jam, raspberry jam, peach jam, etc.
For the « pate sucrée » crust :
½ cup (125g) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature.
¾ cup (95g) powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 ½ tbsp (40g) almond flour (ground almond)
1 large egg
1 ¾ cup + 1 tbsp (233g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
For the crème pâtissière:
1 cup (250ml) milk (2% or whole)
½ tsp vanilla extract (or seeds from ½ vanilla bean)
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
3 tbsp (38g) sugar
2 tbsp (17g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tbsp (11g) cornstarch
For the fruits :
About 300g strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced in half
3 kiwis, peeled and sliced in thin slices
1 clementine, peeled and divided
7-8 cherries, halved and pitted
For the glaze :
¼ cup apricot jam or apple jelly, warmed
Step 1 - Make the « pâte sucrée » crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar until creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla extract, almond flour and egg, and mix until homogeneous. Add the all-purpose flour and salt, and mix until just incorporated and the dough comes together into a ball. Wrap in a plastic film and place in the fridge for 2 hours, minimum. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Step 2 - Take the pâte sucrée out of the fridge, place it between two large sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to a 12-inch circle. Unpeel the top sheet of parchment paper, transfer the crust to a 9-inch tart pan and poke the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Chill it again for 30 minutes. Line the top of the crust with foil or parchment paper and place pie weights or dried beans on top, to keep the pie crust from puffing when baking. Bake the pâte sucrée for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper filled with weights and bake for 10 more minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden.
Step 3 - Make the crème pâtissière. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm up the milk and vanilla. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk and sugar until lighter in color and fluffy. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch. When the milk is just simmering, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, and whisk continuously until just incorporated. Transfer back into the saucepan, whisk occasionally and remove from the heat as soon as it begins to thicken and bubble. Pour into a clean bowl, and cover the crème with plastic wrap; the wrap should touch the whole surface of the crème to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool completely.
Step 4 - Assemble the tart. Place the completely cooled crust onto a serving plate. Spread the crème pâtissière over the bottom of the crust. Start by placing the strawberry halves (bottom side down) on top of the crème, on the outer circle of the tart. Keep three or four strawberry halves to garnish the center of the tart. Continue by placing kiwi slices, clementine quarters and cherries halves, in a circular pattern and overlapping until full.
Step 5 - Glaze. Warm up the apricot jam in a microwave for 15 seconds and pass it through a fine mesh strainer if needed. Gently brush the jam over the fruits. Chill the tart for at least one hour before serving, for the glaze to cool and set.