Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Berry Tart

Another holiday weekend has come and gone, but we had a great time.  My parents were able to come to town, we explored the city, rode out a horrible tornado, planted flowers and herbs (parsley, rosemary and cilantro, yay!) between storms, and most of all, ate...a lot.  
 Over the next few days I will be sharing our Easter dinner and dessert, plus a restaurant review from our fabulous dinner at Five Bistro.  My favorite thing to do is visit with my family while I work in the kitchen.  There's nothing like it!  I spent a lot of time on Easter Sunday prepping in the kitchen and while our schedule planned for dinner at 6:30, I think it was closer to 8:00 by the time we ate.  Luckily, everyone forgave me after they took the first bite of their meal.  Although we saved dessert for last, I'm starting this series with the star of the show, Spring Berry Tart!

This tart starts with a sweet shortbread crust that melts in your mouth.  It is filled with smooth vanilla pastry cream and topped with a crown of fresh berries.  What's not to like?  Once again, this recipe comes from my current favorite cookbook from Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours.  It is seriously one of my all-time favorite desserts, try it today!
Spring Berry Tart
from Baking: From My Home to Yours

About 1 1/2 cups Pastry Cream, cooled or chilled (Recipe Below)
1 9" tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (Recipes Below)
Fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, or an assortment of berries
1/3 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 tsp of water, for glazing (I used strawberry and it tasted great)

Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough pastry cream into the tart crust to come almost to the rim, then even the surface with a rubber spatula. Carefully lay the berries on the cream, arranging them in any pattern that you like.  I used blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries.

Bring the jelly and the water to a boil in a microwave oven or on the stovetop. Working with a pastry brush or a pastry feather, dab each berry with a spot of jelly. Or, if you like, you can glaze the entire surface of the tart, including the bit of pastry cream that peeks through the berries.
Sweet Tart Dough
Makes 1 9" Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 TBSP (9 TBSP) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in - you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

 Don't worry if the dough seems crumbly.  Once it is pressed into the pan it will be fine.

Butter a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. (If you don't have a tart pan a pie pan would probably work too)  Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Don't be too heavy-handed - press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.

Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.   

Pastry Cream

Makes about 2 cups
Storing: The pastry cream can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. (It helps if you have an extra set of hands for this part since you need to whisk and pour at the same time)  Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold, or, if you want to cool it quickly - as I always do- put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.  What was the best thing you ate over the holiday?


  1. Yum! Your berries are so perfectly spaced and they look perfectly shiny, this is magazine worthy!

    Everything for our Easter was yummy but if I had to pick one thing it would have been the tenderloin that was the best.

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  3. This tart is unbelievably gorgeous, Lucy! Great job on it. I'm sure this was on your to-try list for a while before working up the courage to try it. It looks just fabulous and perfect to enjoy after any spring meal. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. lucy!! your blog transformation is wonderful!
    i love it and your pictures are looking gorgeous. just like that delicious tart!
    glad you had a happy Easter, love :)

  5. That is my FAVORITE dessert and I get one every year for my birthday! It looks fantastic.

  6. that tart looks insanely delicious!!! i need a tart pan!

  7. Thanks for the sweet comments everyone!

  8. Lucy, this looks and sounds delightful. You had me as soon as I saw "pastry cream". This is my first visit to your site and while here I browsed through your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you feature for your readers. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  9. I haven't had a spoonful of pastry cream in a good long while. I need to rememdy that!

  10. Your tart looks so beautiful!! I would be ooohing and aaahing with every bite!

  11. Coincidentally enough, I'd say the best thing I had over the weekend was a triple berry crumble I made with my momma. Similar idea to yours, but oatier! I'll post it later you should check it out!

  12. So glad to hear you rode out the tornado safely. We're currently under a watch. :/ Your tart looks delicious, really makes me think of summer.