We didn’t really have much dessert growing up.
Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t deprived during childhood. There were plenty of sweet treats in the form of chocolate bars (a lunchbox staple back in the day!) and of course birthday cakes. But things like pastries were most foreign.
With limited disposable income, the choice between spending $5 on something like this fruit tart which could feed one or on a supermarket mud cake which would last the family a week, it’s not hard to see why.
So we did feel rather spoilt each time we visited relatives in Hong Kong, who were kind enough to let us use their Bakery Gift Certificates they’d collected over the year (in Chinese tradition, Chinese Bridal Cakes Gift Certificates often accompany wedding invitations). And we would always choose our absolute favourite. The fruit tart.
I have yet to find a fruit tart that beats the ones I have had in Hong Kong. They’re simple, with a layer of sponge and lighter pastry cream than you’d find in a more traditional tart. It’s probably nothing to write home about if you’re trying it for the first time, but there’s something special about the nostalgia attached to it.
I’ve been trying to rework and improve some of my older recipes and this is basically the same as the recipe I have posted before. This time I only used the fruit that were (kind of) in season now which left me with not much to choose from. Strawberries and blueberries to be exact. Not quite as colourful but it makes for a refreshingly different look.
And for the recipe:
- 220g plain flour
- 85g icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 160g cold butter, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp iced water
- 27g egg yolks
- egg wash for brushing
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 500g milk
- 125g sugar (I used white)
- 120g egg yolk
- 50g corn starch
- 25g unsalted butter
- 10g gelatine powder
- 8g caster sugar
- 150ml water
- A selection of seasonal fruits
- Remove the butter from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you start mixing — the butter should be just soft, but still very cold.
- Put the butter, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse in two-second bursts about ten times, until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk, pulsing until fully combined.
- Add the flour, in three batches, pulsing for 2 seconds after each addition.
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather together. Divide into three even-sized portions and shape into round, flat discs about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you wish to roll it. Roll out the pastry between sheets of baking paper until 2–3 cm (3/4–11/4 inches) thick. Place on trays and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into 8-10 8 cm (31/4 inch) tart shells, roll out the pastry. Line the tins and blind-bake the tart shells in a preheated 190degC oven for ~10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the baking weights and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until golden.
- Optional- once cooled, brush inside of pastry shells with a layer of chocolate
- Split the vanilla pod. Scrape the seeds with the back of a knife
- Bring vanilla pod (and seeds) and milk to boil. Turn off heat. Cover and infuse for 1 hour
- Mix corn starch with half the portion of sugar. Pour in 1/5 of the milk and stir until smooth. There is no need to sift the corn starch in advance as the sugar will break up the corn starch upon stirring.
- Add egg yolk and stir well
- Bring the remaining milk and half portion of sugar to boil
- Pour the boiling milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Stir well and pour mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to boil. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes, whisking continually.
- Keep stirring until a light, yellow, thick paste forms.
- Strain the mixture and discard the vanilla pod (I found it quite difficult to strain, so I’d probably discard the vanilla pod before after infusing it in the milk and skip this step instead). Stir over ice water and let it cool to 60degreesC.
- Add the unsalted butter. Sir until butter fully combines with pastry cream. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
- Combine all ingredients and heat in a saucepan until the gelatine and sugar has melted. Let it cool until it reaches 70degreesC before using it to brush onto fruits.
- Fill each tart shell with pastry cream and spread it to create a smooth surface
- Arrange fruits on top of the custard.
- Brush a thin layer of glaze over the fruits and refrigerate the tarts until chilled and glaze is set.