Wednesday, 23 March 2011

fruity march

Most of the time, I am able to get it right the first time...but lately, my baking fairy must have left my kitchen...even a batch of simple chocolate chip muffins I have to make it twice to get it right. Not forgetting those banana walnut muffins which looked horrendous and have got a rubbery crumb (I didn't want to post it, to avoid any visual pollution...), and a banana sponge cake that still needs some improvement.

This is my second fruit tart in two weeks. The first one was made with a crumb crust...a lousy decision I made...the recipe was taken from a book dedicated to nothing but tarts. It is a lazy crust made with digestive biscuits, those biscuit base commonly used for no-bake cheesecakes. Even though the crust was pre-baked in the oven, it was still too fragile and crumbled the moment I tried to cut a slice. This is a classic case of the Hokkian/Chinese saying...利害就好,不要假利害! which means, it is good to be "clever", but not "too clever".

Well, practice makes perfect...especially for self-taught home bakers like me. This time, I learned my lesson and went back to my trusted pastry crust recipe. It takes a few extra steps to prepare it, but the effort does pay off! This pastry crust is made by creaming butter and sugar, followed by egg and flour...slightly different from the more commonly used method of rubbing butter with flour. Maybe that is why it uses a lot less butter?

The creme patissiere or pastry cream is a thick custard filling made by cooking milk, eggs, sugar, some flour over the stove. Corn flour is added to help thicken the mixture. Vanilla pods are usually boiled together with the milk before the seeds are scraped out and added to the mixture. Since I do not have any vanilla pods, I substitute with pure vanilla extract. This pastry cream tastes way better than most store bought tarts which I believe the custard fillings are made with custard powder. I do not have a well trained palette, but I have made enough fruit tarts to be able to tell the difference. The recipe may look super long and complicated, but the crust and pastry cream can be made ahead of time, and when ready to serve, you are left with the simple task of putting them together.

I am submitting this fruity tart to Aspiring Bakers #5: Fruity March hosted by Jess of Bakericious. I am glad I am finally able to participate in this event. Thanks Jess for hosting this round and Small Small Baker for championing this monthly baking event :)

Fresh Fruit Tart
(makes one 18cm tart)

Pastry Crust:
80g cake flour
20g almond powder (grounded almond)
30g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
1 tablespoon (15g) lightly beaten egg

Pastry Cream:
200ml milk
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon* cornflour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon* plain flour
10g butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

fresh fruits such as strawberries, kiwi fruits, orange, peaches, etc


Pastry Crust:
  • Lightly grease an 18cm tart pan (with removable base) with butter, set aside.
  • Toast almond powder at 100 degC for 10 mins. Stirring in between. Let cool.
  • With a manual whisk, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Dribble in the egg, whisk and mix well. Add in the almond powder and fold with a spatula. Sieve over the flour and fold in with the spatula. Gather the mixture to form a dough.
  • Flatten the pastry dough to form a round disc. Roll out the dough in between 2 sheets of baking paper (I used two plastic sheets cut-out from clear plastic bags) to about 23cm in diameter. Remove one side of the baking paper/plastic sheet. Gently lift up the other sheet of baking paper/plastic (with the pastry dough still on it) and flip the pastry dough over the prepared tart pan. Remove the baking paper/plastic sheet. (Don't worry if some parts of the pastry broke off. It can be moulded easily back into the tart pan.) Mould the pastry into the tart pan, smoothing the edges and the rim carefully. (If the pastry is too soft to handle, chill the rolled out dough in the fridge for 10~15 mins before moulding.)
  • Prick the pastry surface with a fork (this helps to prevent the pastry from puffing up when baking). Cover and chill the moulded pastry in the fridge for 20mins (this helps to prevent the pastry from shrinking too much after baking.)
  • Brush the top of the rim with some egg wash (optional). Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 20~25 mins or until the pastry is lightly golden browned. Let cool before removing the crust from the tart pan.
Pastry Cream:
  • In a saucepan, bring milk slowly to the boil and remove from the heat.
  • In a mixing bowl, with a manual whisk, whisk egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale and thickens (takes a couple of minutes). Sieve over the corn flour and plain flour. Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth (a few quick stir).
  • Add in the hot milk gradually to the yolk mixture, whisk constantly to prevent curdling.
  • Pour the mixture over a sieve and return it to the saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon until the mixture just starts to boil. When it boils, continue to stir constantly for another 1 minute, the mixture will become thick and hard to stir. It is important to stir the mixture constantly as it cooks so that it thickens but doesn't turn lumpy.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract (or other liqueur such as Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch, Rum as desired).
  • Pour into a clean bowl and cover the surface of the pastry cream with cling wrap (this is to prevent a skin from forming). Set aside to cool completely. Keep in fridge until needed. When ready to use, just whisk it with a spoon and the cream will become spreadable.
To Assemble:
  • Spread the pastry cream evenly onto the pastry crust. Top with sliced fruits. Best serve on the day it is made. Keep for one day if refrigerated.
*Note: for the pastry cream, I only made 2/3 portion as the original recipe is enough to fill a bigger tart. As a result the amount for the corn flour and plain flour was a little unusal!

Recipe Source: adapted from (1) Delicious!! Baked Cakes, Ikuko Omori, (2) Fresh Baked by Louise Pickford


busygran said...

A beautiful piece of work! It's so colourful and well-assembled that I would not want to cut it!

E. said...

I love eating fruit tarts! Especially the ones from Portos Bakery. They have a thin layer of sponge cake and a layer of custard all topped with a beautiful arrangement of fruits. Yours look just like their's.

Jo said...

Hi there, your fruit tarts are so pretty!

Would like to find out is it possible to make the pie crust in advance, and freeze it until we need it? How long can it be kept for this way?

Novice baker here!
Thanks so much for your help.

The Sweetylicious said...

the tart look sooo LOVELY and the bright colours of the fruits makes it sooo tempting! (: yummy! (:

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Wow, so colourful and i bet it must be very yummy. Till now I still try to figure out what to prepare for this event, have to do in these two days before expire, hehehe..

CaThY said...

Lovely tart! I love the colours ;)

鲸鱼蓝蓝蓝 said...


hanushi said...

I always like your fruits bakes... So colourful and appealing... :) You really know how to arrange the fruits nicely, unlike me... hehe...

Joceline said...

nice tart! like it so much!

Passionate About Baking said...

Very beautifully arranged, HHB! Looks so healthy and yummy too! So glad you're participating in the Aspiring Bakers! :)

Edith said...

guess you need time to understand your oven. Lovely tart.

Janine said...

The way you arrange your fruits make the tart look super enticing! I could never arrange my fruits so neatly :/

Ranjini said...

Hi... Looks very healthy and mouth watering. U are an amazing cook and inspire me a lot. I am a vegetarian so I usually play around your recipes to customise it to suit me. I tried ur baked rice dish and it was so wow.
Thanks a lot

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Looks like you need to get acquainted with your new oven. But a good trusty one shouldn't take much time and soon you'll be baking all those breads, cakes and scones again. :) Love how this simple yet lovely presentation of the fruit tart you've got here. I know I can never say no to it!

Caroline said...

Beautiful! I'll have to give this pastry crust a try, it doesn't sound complicated at all. I think this might be the perfect inaugural tart for my brand spanking-new tart pan!

sherlyn said...

Wow, this tart like quite alot of work, or at least to me (cos I am so so lazy).
If I can, I shd try out the pastry cream .. I always like fruit tarts, esp those in delifrance. I would like to find out, what happen if my pie pan has fixed bottom? And what do you mean by bring to slow boil ... how to determine boil? one line of bubble up? or all the milk bubbling?

I am thinking abt making those mini chocolate tart or strawberry tarts sold in the bakery .. my kids always want to buy them. Think think .. :)

Glad you also participate in Aspiring Bakers with this lovely yummy tart :)

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

The fruit tart looks delicious! Love the beautifully arranged fruit! I know what you mean about the Baking Fairy...lost mine too. Had a not quite perfect Carrot Cake and a failed Pandan Chiffon over the weekend. Think I'm taking a break now...

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Jo, Sorry, I have not tried freezing the pastry crust so I am not sure how long you can keep it.

Sonia, I am sure you will come up with something delicious, looking forward to reading about it :)

hanushi, I am not as creative as you thought…I remembered seeing such kind of arrangements from some cookbooks so I simply copy!

Jane, yes, I missed the earlier events, so I make it a point to participate this time round.

Happy Homebaker said...

edith, nothing to do with my oven, it was just me :(

Janine, I have seen such arrangement from a cookbook so I simply follow…I am sure you can do a better job than me :)

Ranj, thanks for trying the recipes…I am glad you are able to adapt it to suit your diet :):)

Bee Bee, nah, it has got nothing to do with my oven, looks like I have lost the touch.

Caroline, yes, it is not as complicated especially if you make the crust and pastry cream ahead :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Sherlyn, it is not as complicated especially you can do them in parts…eg you can make the pastry cream the night before, the crust the following day, and assemble the tart when you are ready to serve.

It will be difficult to remove the pastry crust if your tart pan comes with a fixed base. But, there is always a solution to go around it. What you can do is, cut two stripes of baking paper (around 5cm x 30cm) and line them like a Cross inside your tart pan. Then mould in the pastry dough. When the crust is baked, you can remove it by lifting up with the two stripes of baking paper. You know what I mean? I have done this before I got a tart pan with a removable base.

Just boil the milk till you notice that it starts to bubble up…don't need to wait till it becomes quick vigorous boiling.

It takes a lot more effort to make small tarts…I lack the patience! but if your kids like them, it is worth the effort :)

Happy Homebaker said...

PlumLeaf 李葉, I am sure you will find your fairy back :D My stubborn nature makes me want to try again and again until I get it right. I will only take a break when I am satisfied ;)

Yummy Bakes said...

Wow ... so pretty and colorful.

The Experimental Cook said...

goody ! I've been meaning to make something like this but have no idea what sits between the crust and fruits. Thanks for sharing!

happy-bowl said...

hi HHB ur bakes are always a treat to watch. i think u r being very modest abt urself. anything that looks good should taste good. i wish that ur baking jinx be broken soon and get back to the fantastic baker that u r.

E. said...

Hello again HHB, I just wanted to notify you that you have an award waiting for you at my blog. :) Your blog was one of the first ones that I followed after I discovered the blogging world and it really motivated me to try baking many new things.

Small Small Baker said...

Glad that you have joined Aspiring Bakers. Hope you can continue to support and be one of our hosts in the near future. I'm reserving a slot for you. :)

Need to ask you about the pastry cream as I have never tried before. Are the eggs fully cooked in this way? I'm very concerned about this. :)

Joyce @ Chunky Cooky said...

The tart is so well-baked! A wonderful combi with all the colourful fruits and neat arrangement. Perfect !

Anonymous said...

look so good and i love the colours of the tart ! :) you're really a fantastic baker

Unknown said...

I always admire people who can arrange the fruits so nice and beautiful. I can never do it, but I can copy the idea... hehehe

Aquaria said...

HBB, you can open a bakery! Love this!

Happy Homebaker said...

happy-bowl, thanks for you sweet comments :) I am never a good baker...I always think I am a novice, there are still so many things I do not know about baking.

Esther, thanks so much for the award! :):)

SSB, I will be my pleasure to be able to lend a hand in your baking event :)
The eggs are fully cooked because you need to cook it after adding the milk until the mixture starts to boil.

neyeeloh, I can never do it too...I remember seeing it from some cookbook, so I simply copy the idea ;)

Aquaria, my bakery will only have two customers...and all my bakes will have to be foc :D

WendyinKK said...

I use digestive biscuits to make pie crust too, but I felt it can be too fragile, so I replaced some of the butter with melted chocolate(actually more). It became very sturdy with the melted chocolate and "waterproof". I used it for my banoffee pie.

megi said...

HHB, everything you make looks so amazing and taste fantastic too, as you know, I have tried many of your recipes and I am looking forward to trying this one too. By the way, I'll be making your berry pastry cake as soon as fresh local berries are available.

Sue said...

Hi HHB, may I know what kind of tart pan are you using? The aluminium one or the black non-stick one? I'm keen to buy one but have no idea which one I should buy. Also, when you bake the tart crust, do you add any weight beads or bean on the tart to keep the tart in proper shape?

Happy Homebaker said...

wendyywy, the crumb crust recipe which I followed used honey...but I still find it a bit too crumbly, melted chocolate will be a better choice, thanks for sharing :)

megi, I hope you will like the pastry cake :):)

Sue, I use the alum type, not the non-stick one. This recipe doesn't requires baking the crust with beads or beans...just make sure you prick the dough surface with holes before baking.

sherlyn said...

Dear HHB,

I will see when I can muster the courage to try this .. but I like the idea of the strips of baking paper to lift the crust. Thanks for the tip.

olivia said...

Beautiful tarts...

Bakertan said...


I'm sure you will get the baking momemtum back soon. this gorgeous fruit tart is proof that you're still able to churn out delicious bakes. Nothing beats pastry cream paired with fruits in a tart.

thecoffeesnob said...

I love the burst of colour and freshness from the fruits!

And it sure looks like your bad baking spell is turning around pretty fast :)

Xinyun said...

Hi.. May I ask, the pastry for this tart is suited for 18cm tart pan? I only have a 20cm tart pan. Would it affect the thickness of the crust?

thanks in advance for answering the question! I am thinking of baking this for my boyfriend's birthday so I hope i can make it perfect with a 20cm tart pan!

Edith said...

Please check this out.


Happy Homebaker said...

Xinyun, I am afraid this recipe is meant for 18cm pan size, the crust will be too thin for a 20cm pan. Maybe you can use this recipe instead ( It is very similar to what I have done and the recipe is for a 20cm tart. happy baking!

Unknown said...

Beautiful fruit tart!

Jo said...

Gorgeous tart and I love the idea of using fresh fruits. The colours make the whole dessert so inviting.

Angelic Heart~ said...

Lovely tart! love your blog~ i always follow your recipes and the result is never disappointed me! you are a great teacher :) thanks a lot :)

Ziho said...

Simply, fresh and delicious!

Than you!

Mel said...

Hi , I have an award for you. Kindly view it here. Thank you

Anonymous said...

I tried out this recipe just now and woohoo, I simply love it especially the crust! Thanks for sharing this fabulous recipe and fats to my waistline! Amy

The Experimental Cook said...

Hi, your base is a hit with my folks.But I need more practice to make it look professional. How do you cut the pie nicely to serve? My fruits was mashed up so I can't post any decent pics. i love your fruity march tart most.Mine wasn't even close. LOL !

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi The Experimental Cook, I hope you have fun putting the tart together, I love making the crust most :)
To make a nice cut, you need a sharp knife. Point the knife at the centre of the tart, then cut with one downward movement, don't 'saw', place your free hand on the knife to help you 'force' the knife blade down to get a clean cut. Do the same for the second cut and then slide the knife under the sliced tart to lift it up. Hope you know what I mean?

Charenn29 said...

this is perfect. the color is really great! and the food is healthy, there's nothing to argue about.

cleo said...

Thanks for this great recipe! Absolutely loved it! Can I have the full recipe for the custard? Really loved making it Thanks in advance.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Cleo, the custard recipe is as stated under pastry cream.

cleo said...

Hi, I meant your pastry cream is 2/3 portion as mentioned in the post. Can you post the full portion then? I'm a bit unsure if it'll turn out good if I convert myself. Thanks.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, here's the full portion:

300ml milk
3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons plain flour
15g butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Hope this helps.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, here's the full portion:

300ml milk
3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons plain flour
15g butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Hope this helps.