A friend recently reminded me of how finicky cakes and tarts are perceived. If you are not a natural baker, I can see how the precision and the involvement called for certain recipes, not to mention the time investment, can be daunting. But if you have at least two or three recipes you have specialized in, building on from there is easier than you think.
Let’s take the ubiquitous fruit tart that invariably looks so appealing in pastry shops everywhere. Concentric circles of shiny, colorful fruit, atop a yellow custard, it is actually fairly bland in most cases and possibly not even made the same day you are buying it. Making your own is pretty easy and if you really have an aversion to making your own crust, you can get away with buying a pre-made one, that you will blindly bake.
If I could make pastry cream at 8 years old without measuring a single ingredient, I am confident you can follow the recipe here under – it will be so much more tasty than most commercial pastry creams made in large batches.
I like to use flour to thicken my pastry cream but, for this particular tart, cornstarch will work better because it will make it stiffer, all the best to set the fruit on top without spilling cream over the sides.
Other than that, it’s a matter of arranging fresh fruit (and you can use just berries) in a pattern that pleases your style. The trick to making it shining is called “nappage” – it only consists of apricot jam thinned out on the stove and lovingly brushed over the fruit. C’est tout!
PASTRY CREAM RECIPE
2 C Whole Milk
1 Vanilla Beans
5 Egg Yolks
1/4 C Sugar
3 T Cornstarch
1/2 oz Unsalted Butter
- Cut butter into small cubes, place in mixing bowl and set aside
- Scald the milk with the vanilla bean in it and remove from heat. Remove the pod but scrape the seeds in the milk.
- Combine sugar and cornstarch; whisk into yolks
- Slowly pour the hot milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Strain and return to the stove top.
- Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly to a slow boil.
- Pour into a bowl where you will have placed the butter, add the chocolate chunks and whisk to incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface
- Chill completely prior to using.