This month’s Classic French challenge is a French fruit tart. Now, in all the times I have visited France I don’t think I have ever been tempted to buy one of those glossy, sweet tarts that seem to adorn every French patisserie window that you pass. I think it is the thought of cold custard that has always put me off. So when Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes set the challenge I decided to made these delicious strawberry tarts. They were quite easy to make and would make a delicious dessert that would go well with most menus. They were not overly sweet and were very light.
- 6 individual sweet shortcrust pastry cases
- 1 vanilla pod
- 350ml full cream milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 65g caster sugar
- 15g plain flour
- 15g cornflour
- 600g fresh strawberries
- 1 tblsp seedless strawberry jam
- Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a saucepan. Bring almost to the boil, being careful not to let it burn.
- Remove the milk from the heat, strain and set to one side to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in colour.
- Add in the flour and cornflour and mix well.
- Slowly pour the warm milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
- Return the mixture back to the pan and bring back to the boil and simmer for one minute, whisking continuously until slightly thicker and smooth.
- Remove from the heat and cover with wax paper pressed directly against the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin forming.
- Refrigerate until chilled.
- To assemble the tarts – fill the pastry cases about ¾ full with pastry cream and decorate the top with whole, fresh strawberries or sliced as I have done.
- To glaze the tarts – Heat the strawberry jam until just melted and brush lightly over the strawberries.
When making custard I always use a balloon whisk to stir the mixture whilst it is in the pan. This prevents any lumps forming but remember to not use your best non stick pans if you do this. I don't know how many pans I have ruined this way! If you think the custard has turned a bit lumpy then pour through a sieve and your problem is solved. If you want to prepare the tarts well in advance it is probably best to seal the pastry cases before you add the pastry cream. Brush the baked cases lightly with some egg white and then pop back in the oven for 1 minute to seal. This should prevent a soggy bottom.