Fruit and Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream) Tart

The Tart might look beautiful but the star of this post is in fact the Crème Pâtissière.    A yummy and rich traditional French Custard used for fine pastry.

Crème Pâtissière or Pastry Cream is the base for éclairs, mille feuille and Tarts.   The quantities vary slightly from one recipe to another but the basic ingredients are always milk, egg yolks, sugar and wheat flour..    The traditional flavor is vanilla but it can be flavored with lemon, coffee, caramel, etc.

It’s not hard to make but is a work of patience.  It has to be gently cooked in low heat (so it won't curdle) until it thickens up and you can't taste the flavor of the flour - that the mixture will thicken up fast but you should still keep it cooking, always stirring for 10-15min.  

The Crème Pâtissière recipe below is adapted from Chef Alex Atala recipe book Por Uma Gastronomia Brasileira.  It will be more than enough for a 25 cm tart and if there are any leftovers they can be kept in the fridge for 3 days but the best is to use it at the same day when it is fresh and the vanilla flavor is still strong.   It is so yummy that I am sure that you won't have a problem eating the leftovers with a spoon, straight from the pot ;-)

Fruit and Crème Pâtissière Tart

For the Pastry
125g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
1 egg
90g icing sugar, sfited
30g almond meal
250g plain flour

For the Crème Pâtissière
500ml Milk
125g Sugar
25g Corn Flour
25g White Flour
2 teaspoons of vanilla paste
6 egg yolks

For Assembling
Berries or whatever fruit you wish.   This tart also works really well with Pears or Apples
150g Chocolate Melts (optional)
1/2 Cup of Fruit Jam (optional)
Icing Sugar to decorate (optional)

Making the Pastry

With an electric mixer cream the butter with the eggs, the sugar and the almond meal.   Slowly add the flour just until all incorporated - don't over beat.     Tip the dough on a surface, make a ball, roll in plastic wrap and put in the fridge taking it out of the fridge 20 min before rolling.    Technically you should leave it in the fridge overnight but planning stuff is not my favorite activity in the kitchen and I always end up leaving it just a couple of hours in the fridge... frankly I think it is just as good.










For a 25cm Tart you will use 3/4 of pastry the recipe - use the leftover to make biscuits.

Roll the pasty with a rolling pin to about .5cm.  I have a trick to do it - I roll the dough between two
pieces of plastic wrap and when is done, i remove the plastic from the top and use the other piece to transfer the dough to the tart - works as a charm.

Heat the oven to 190C.   Line baking paper over the pastry then fill with pastry weights (raw rice and
dried beans work just fine if you don't have the ceramic ones).   Place the tin in the oven and bake for 10-15 min until lightly brown.   Take out of the oven, remove the pie weights, reduce the temperature of the oven to 180C and bake for more 10min until the base of the tart is dry.    Take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Making the Crème Pâtissière

Pass the egg yolks through a sieve.  Mix half of the sugar and beat until pale and creamy.  Mix in the flour with the corn flour sifted. 

Warm the milk with the other half of the sugar and the vanilla until it s just at boiling poing.

Pour the hot milk over the yolk cream whisking it all the time (you don't want to end up with an omelette!)

Put the milk with the yolks back in the saucepan in low heat and stir the pan (don't stop stirring!) until
the cream is thick and you no longer taste the flour (about 10-15min).










Leave it to cool down in the fridge with the surface covered with plastic wrap so it wont form skin.

Assembling 

If you are not going to serve the tart immediately, it is better if you impermeabilize the tart before putting the filling so it wont turn soggy and ruin your beautiful homemade pastry.   You can do it by taking the pie out of the oven 5 min before its done, brushing the bottom with egg wash and putting it back in the oven until the egg wash is "baked".

I don't like using egg wash because I am crazy and I think I can taste the eggs (only I can taste the eggs though :-)).   My favorite alternative is melting chocolate and brushing the pastry case with it.

In this case you can use the microwave to melt the chocolate, just put it in a bowl and leave it 1 min at the microwave, check how it is, stir and put more 30 sec.  Repeat it again if necessary, leaving it only for 30 sec each time.

Brush the Pastry case with the melted chocolate and let it set before putting the filling.












The tart is easier to cut if you let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours so impermeabilizing is a good idea.


You can whisk the Creme Patissiere to soften it up - I do it when I am using it as a filling for Eclairs and Mille Feuille but I don't bother doing for the Tart.   Just put the cream in disposable piping bag, make a fairly large cut in the tip and pipe the cream in circles into the tart until completely covered (see picture).


Cover with fruits, sprinkle some icing sugar on the top and serve.

For a "shinny" tart.   Put the fruit jam of your choice in a bowl, put in the microwave for 30sec-1min, until it is liquid.    Brush the top of the Tart with the melted jam.



Rachel Elich

Rachel Elich is a globetrotting, computer engineer, project manager, designer, untamed cook extraordinaire who backpacks around the world. Along the way on adventures, Rachel has adopted and incorporated international influences into all aspects of her creative work endeavours.

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