Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pastry Cream Tart With Fresh Fruit

 I am so proud of myself about this one. I made a tart with pastry cream... and I didn't mess up! Not only that, but it tasted pretty good too!

Now, you might be asking: what is the difference between a tart and a pie? Well the difference is pretty straightforward. A pie usually has a bottom crust and a top crust, whereas a tart only has a bottom and it's thicker than the crust of a pie. Tarts use fresh fruit and pies use fruits in a syrup like sauce. Also, a tart usually has a cream based layer, like pastry cream.

The Pastry Cream
In all of the pastry cream tart recipes that I read, they all said to make the pastry cream first, that way it can cool completely while you make the crust. I found a recipe that uses the whole egg (I didn't have a use for the egg whites and didn't want to waste them), and not just the yolks. The reason most recipes call for just the yolks is because it makes the pastry cream richer. 

  •  2 cups half and half (or cream, or whole milk)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a saucepan, combine half of the sugar (1/3 cup) and the half and half. Let it sit on medium heat, until it starts to bubble a little bit; Make sure to stir it occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, flour, cornstarch, salt, and the rest of the sugar. I whisked them together until they were smooth like the milk/egg mixture for making french toast.
Both mixtures combined.

When the half and half mixture has started to bubble, it's time to combine it with the egg mixture. You have to be very careful to not scramble the eggs with the hot cream. You'll want to add just a tiny bit of the hot mixture to the eggs at a time... this tempers them. And you MUST whisk constantly. Continue to add the hot mixture to the eggs, small amounts at a time, whisking until they're combined.

When you're done,  pour the whisked combo back into the saucepan. Put it on low heat, and just keep whisking it until it gets thicker and starts to look like the pastry cream you find in a doughnut filling. Like this...

Once it's thickened, add the vanilla, make sure it gets combined. Then put it into a bowl and place plastic wrap on it making sure the wrap actually touches the pastry cream. This prevents a film from developing on the top of your cooling cream. Put it in the fridge so it can continue to cool.

The Crust

This crust was nice and sweet. It was also a little bit flaky, which is a good quality in a crust. It kinda reminded me of a sugar cookie before it gets frosted. This makes enough for one 9 inch tart crust.

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons of water
Dry ingredients with the butter cut in.

 The first thing to do is combine the flour, salt and powdered sugar together. Then you cut in the butter, like you would do for biscuits.

Everything combined

After that you add the egg and mix it a bit. Then you add a teaspoon of water at a time... until it looks like typical pie crust dough. And then let it chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

 Once it has taken a chill pill, you can roll it out. Make sure you put flour down first so that it doesn't stick. You want to roll it so that it's bigger than the pan by about and inch and a half or so.

 When you get it to the size it needs to be, gently pull it up and place it in the pan. Form it to the pan, pressing it to the sides and bottom. Then poke it with a fork and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or overnight (if you can wait that long!) By poking holes in the crust and then putting it in the freezer, you help the crust lay flat while baking. If you skip the freezer, you will need pie weights to help prevent the crust from rising up during baking... you want a flat bottom.

When the crust is ready for baking, cover it with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 375°F.

After 15 minutes, remove the foil and put it back in the over to continue baking... you want the crust to be slightly golden. I ended up baking mine for about 12 to 15 minutes longer. Once it's baked, it needs to cool. I cooled it on the counter with a towel over the top for about an hour and then I moved it to the fridge to continue cooling.


The assembly of the tart starts after the crust and pastry cream are cooled. One thing to note is that this tart will need to be stored in the fridge so make sure you have room. I put this together in a pie container so that it's protected from fingers and paws wanting a taste test.

Anyway, the assembly is really easy. First spoon all the pastry cream into the crust. Then you top it with whatever fruit you want, or you could just have a pastry cream tart! I used strawberries and blackberries because that's what was freshest at the store. Use whatever fruits are in season, I bet this will taste great with almost any kind of fruit. After it has been topped with fruit (or left plain) you may slice, serve and enjoy!

My thoughts...

Just amazing! The pastry cream and crust went perfectly together, and the strawberries and blackberries make this healthy, right? The only thing I would do differently is I would add a dollop of whipped cream before serving because the blackberries were a bit tart

5 out of 5 whiskers!

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