“Fruit Tarts by Thooha Adley”

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Crème patisserie is a French custard that uses flour to thicken. It is quicker to make than traditional custard and is absolutely delicious. Making crème patisserie and pastry from scratch can sound daunting. But with a good recipe and some practice, you can easily master these cooking techniques. And once you’ve made this crème patisserie at home, you will never want to use store-bought custard!

These tarts are best served on the day you make them otherwise the pastry shells may get soggy with the custard. This recipe uses rhubarb, but if rhubarbs aren’t available you can just use strawberries, or some other firm fruits to top your tart (like peaches, pears). If you’re short on time, just skip the poaching of the fruit and top with some of your favourite fresh fruits!  

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Vanilla pastry:
– 225g flour
– 60g icing sugar
– 1 egg
– 112g butter, chopped
– 1tsp vanilla bean paste

Crème Patissiere
– 375ml whole milk
– 75g caster sugar
– 15g flour
– 15g cornflour
– 4 egg yolks
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Rhubarb and strawberry topping
– 50g sugar
– 1tspn vanilla bean paste
– half a lemon’s juice
– 1 bunch rhubarb
– 1 box strawberries
– few sprigs of thyme
– water (enough to cover fruit)

Method (Makes 6 mini tarts):

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • For the pastry, in a food processor, process flour, icing sugar, vanilla bean paste and butter till they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg and process till the mixture comes together. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and form a disc. Wrap in cling wrap and rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes. When forming a disc, be careful not to over-work the mixture.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and let it soften (for about 15 minutes). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thickness and line 8 small tart tins with pastry. Trim the sides with a knife.
  • Fill the tart tins with baking paper and pastry weights (or you can use uncooked rice).
  • Blind bake* the tarts in the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the pastry weights and bake for further 10 minutes or till they start to turn brown.
  • To make the crème patisserie, bring the milk and vanilla bean paste to boil, in a saucepan, over medium heat. Once it boils, remove from heat.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together till pale. Add the flours together and whisk till combined.
  • Add 1/3 of the warmed milk to the egg mixture, while whisking vigorously. Then add the egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat, while whisking constantly.
  • Whisk the mixture till it thickens, being careful to not let the mixture burn on to the bottom of the saucepan.
  • Remove from heat, and cover the mixture with cling wrap to prevent from a skin forming. Use once the mixture has cooled.
  • To prepare the fruit, wash and trim the rhubarbs and cut them in half. Trim the strawberries and halve them.
  • Put vanilla, sugar, lemon juice, thyme and water in a wide frying pan over low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the fruit and let it simmer for 5 minutes. We want the rhubarb to soften, but not break down.
  • Remove from heat and let the fruit soak in syrup, for at least 1 hour.
  • Fill the tart cases with crème pat and top with fruit. Once you’ve used up all the fruit, put the syrup on heat to reduce, until sticky. Brush the fruit with the fruit glaze with a pastry brush.

*Note: blind baking is the process of process of baking the tart crusts without filling. This is to prevent the tart crust from going soggy when adding moist fillings like custards.

Words & Photos by Thooha Adley