I mentioned awhile back that almost every woman I know is expecting. And the list keeps getting longer. Silly me, when I made that statement, I didn't know that one of the most important woman in my life was pregnant. My sister!
Holly is expecting a baby in October!
There is nothing more exciting than looking forward to a baby! I am so happy for my sister and her family!
What's been really fun is that many of my friends and neighbors are expecting as well, so the joy and anticipation is all around me. Last week, I had the privilege of attending a sweet baby shower. I thought that such a happy occasion would be the perfect opportunity to bring a spring time, colorful tart.
Since many of the babies are expected during the springtime or summer, a lovely fruit tart gives a taste of the sweetness to come. Fresh juicy produce just livens up the anticipation! The sweet pastry cream and tart crust is a great base for just about any fruit combination you can think of (I'm already getting ideas for the winter!) and used with fresh, seasonal fruit, this tart can be appropriate and celebratory for any due date! Surely, this is a tart you'll want to celebrate with!
Vanilla Pastry Cream: 1 cup Half and Half 3 Large Egg Yokes 1/3 cup Powdered Honey 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch 1 Tablespoon White Spelt Flour or White Flour Pinch of Sea or Pink Salt 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
In a small sauce pan, gently warm the half and half on medium low heat. You do not want to boil it or bring it to a simmer, just gently warm it until you see steam coming up. While the half and half is warming, start on the rest of the ingredients. In a medium sized bowl, combine your egg yokes, salt, powdered honey, cornstarch and flour. Whisk mixture together until nice and smooth. Once the egg mixture is smooth and creamy and the half and half is warm, carefully pour half of the warm half and half into the bowl with the egg mixture and quickly whisk together. This process helps temper the eggs. Whisk until the mixture is well combined. Next, pour this mixture back into the sauce pan with the rest of the half and half. Place the pan back on the medium low heat and begin whisking to incorporate. Continue whisking the mixture until it become thick and creamy. If the mixture starts to simmer, lift it from the heat and keep whisking. Don't worry if it doesn't thicken up after a couple of minutes, just keep whisking! It will begin to thicken after about 4 or 5 minutes. Once the cream has thickened, add the butter to the mixture and whisk to combine. Take the cream off the heat and add the vanilla.
At this point, pour the cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strainer into a clean bowl. If you don't have one of these, that's okay since the fruit placed over it will hide any imperfections. But straining ensures that you will have an extra smooth and creamy pastry cream. When all the cream is in the clean bowl, cover it tightly with the plastic wrap (plastic wrap coating the cream) and place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 to 5 hours.
While your cream is chilling, begin on your tart crust dough:
Tart Crust: 1 1/2 cups White Spelt Flour or White Flour 1/4 cup Powdered Honey Dash of Sea or Pink Salt 1/4 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract 1 1/4 stick Ice Cold Butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes 2-3 Tablespoons Ice Cold Water
In a food processor or large bowl, mix together your flour, honey, and salt. Pulse until well combined. Add the vanilla and ice cold butter chunks. Slowly, add the ice cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If using a food processor, pulse on and off while slowly adding the water. Mix until the dough comes together. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with the plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven. Take your tart pan and generously butter the bottoms and sides. I used a 10 1/2 inch tart pan, but you can use a little bit small pan if you wish. Remove your dough from the freezer and dump it onto the tart pan. Using the plastic wrap or your bare fingers, mash the dough in to the pan to spread evenly. Press the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick if using a10 inch pan, thicker if you are using a smaller tart pan. Once your dough is spread out and even, gently poke the bottom of it with a fork to prevent rising. Bake covered at 400 degrees for 15-16 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the cover. With a spoon, gently pat down any areas of the crust that may have puffed up. Return to oven and bake for an additional 1 to 2 minutes for a beautifully golden crust. Let the crust sit until completely cooled before assembling the tart.
Next, wash and slice your fresh fruit. You can use any fruit you'd like, but for best results, use fresh seasonal fruits that have bright colors that will compliment each other. You can use kiwi, strawberries and blueberries like I did or just use your favorites! Some other ideas that would look very pretty are peaches, raspberries and blueberries. I also love the look of all raspberries and blackberries placed in a checkered pattern!
Once your tart crust is cooled, and your cream has been chilling for at least 3 hours, you can begin to assemble your tart. Remove your cream from the fridge and gently spoon it onto the tart crust. Spread the cream evenly and smoothly. Arrange your fruit as desired. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready.
SOME TIPS FOR MAKING GREAT PASTRY CREAM AND CRUST:
When I begin cooking something like cream or eggs on the stove top, I avoid stress or panic by having everything out and ready (including utilizes and appliances). Sometimes it's crucial, because things need to be added immediately, and other times, it helps me feel in control over what I am doing. This also alleviates any risk of being rushed or forgetting something during any part of the recipe.
Take caution to not cook your pastry cream in an aluminum pan. Aluminum can leach both chemicals and color into your cream, giving your cream a grey, muted appearance. Not pretty.
Be patient when whisking it to thicken! If it's not thickening up after 4 or 5 minutes of whisking, your heat could be slightly too low. Turn up your heat a tiny bit and continue whisking. The cream will also set and firm up a tiny bit more once chilled.
Always strain your cream when warm. This makes it easy to strain it, but also once the cream is done, it needs to cool in the fridge as soon as you can for best results.
Make sure your crust ingredients are cold! I like to cut up my butter before hand and place it in the freezer so that it is truly ice cold. I also put ice cubes in the water that I will be using for the crust. Having really cold ingredients helps me not feel rushed because I know everything won't become room temperature quickly and my crust will still turn out great.
If you want a lighter pastry cream or want it to be less custard like, add 1/2 cup of whipped cream to this recipe for a bit of a different treat!