Classic Fresh Fruit Tart
The classic French tart.
See the People Like Pie cooking class page for step-by-step photographs to make it even easier.
Makes one 9-inch tart
1 recipe Pâte Sablée tart crust pastry, cold
About 1 cup Vanilla Pastry Cream, cold or room temperature
1/2 cup apricot jam
Optional: lemon juice
Assorted fruits such as seasonal berries, stone fruits, kiwi, supremed oranges, etc.
Pre-Baking the Crust
1. Place the Pâte Sablée between two sheets of wax paper. If it's too hard to roll, allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. With your rolling pin on the top sheet of wax paper, roll the pastry into a circle with a diameter of 11 inches. Place the pastry, still between the two sheets of wax paper, on a large plate. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. (This is a very wet dough; keeping it cold makes it much easier to work with.)
2. Invert the pastry into your tart pan like this: Take the plate with the cold pastry on it out of the refrigerator and set it on your work surface near the tart pan. Carefully peel off the top sheet of wax paper. Separate the base of the tart pan from the outer ring and lay the base centered directly on the pastry. Keeping one hand under the plate and the other on top of the tart pan base, lift the pastry up to about chest level. Quickly invert your hands so that the plate is on top and the tart pan base is on the bottom. Carefully remove the plate and set it aside. Gently slip the tart pan base back into the outer ring with the pastry on it. The sides will be draping over the sharp edges of the pan, so be careful not to let the pan tear the pastry if possible. Carefully peel the top layer of wax paper off of the pastry.
Whenever you move the tart pan, remember to hold it from the sides instead of the bottom! If you pick it up from the bottom, the outer ring will slide right off, ruining all your hard work.
3. Working quickly so that the pastry doesn't warm up too much, press the pastry into place snugly against the bottom, inside corners and sides of the tart pan. The pastry will tear easily, but it will also repair very easily - just press it back together against itself and it will be easy to seal up any holes or tears. If it becomes too difficult to work with, just gather up the torn pieces and lay them on top of the pastry in the pan, then put the pastry back into the refrigerator to chill and set for another 10 minutes. At that point it will be easier to work with.
4. When the Pâte Sablée has been fitted snugly into the pan, you can remove any excess pastry by rolling a rolling pin over the top edge of the tart pan. Gather the scraps and use them to shore up any thin or torn spots that need repair. The pastry around the sides of the pan should be about 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thick. Press the remaining scraps together and store them in the refrigerator in case you need to make more repairs later. Place the tart pan on a large plate and refrigerate it for 10 minutes.
See the Cooking Class page for more pictures and details to help you with this recipe.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the oven rack in the middle position. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. When the oven has fully preheated, slide the baking sheet with the tart shell on it into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pastry has begun to look set.
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully lift the parchment with the beans in it out of the tart shell. If any thin spots or tears develop, carefully use the extra pastry scraps to repair them (just press them into the desired spots using the gentle pressure of your finger and the warmth of the pastry to blend the new piece in). Return the tart shell to the oven and bake for another 12-16 minutes. Watch it carefully! Because of the high amount of sugar in the pastry, it will burn quickly once it is fully cooked. The sides may brown more quickly than the bottom. If this happens, take the baking sheet out of the oven, cover the edges with foil leaving the pastry bottom uncovered and continue to bake until the bottom and sides are uniformly very light gold.
7. Remove the tart shell from the oven and place it over an upside down bowl to carefully remove the ring (see the picture). Allow the tart shell to cool on its base on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then slide the shell off the base, directly onto the rack to cool completely.
8. When the tart is completely cool, spoon the pastry cream into the bottom, spreading it with a spatula to cover evenly. Warm the apricot jam along with a Tablespoon of water or lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat until liquid. Allow to cool a bit, but not enough to become jelled again. The perfect temperature is slightly above average room temperature, so that it does not begin to solidfy as you use it, but also not hot enough to cook the fruit as you brush it on.
9. While the apricot jam warms, trim and prepare the fruit as needed to make an attractive presentation. If using bananas, drop slices into a small bowl of lemon juice as you work to keep them from browning. Arrange the fruit decoratively on the tart, in mounds or patterns as you like. Brush with the apricot glaze to make the fruit glisten.