It’s the perfect summer dessert. Light, buttery crust. Thick but not overly sweet custard. Fruit slices. You can bake the crust and make the custard a day or two ahead, then slice the fruits and assemble the fruit tart an hour or so before serving.
We use a pan with removable bottom for making tarts at home. If you don’t have one, just line a regular tart pan with non-stick paper before putting in the crust. After baking, simply peel off the paper.
What does “blind baked” mean?
Baking blind or blind baking means baking the crust without the filling. It’s a technique used for making pies and tarts with uncooked filling or filling that needs to be cooked separately. As in the case of this fruit tart.
To blind bake, you make the dough, roll it and lay it on the pan. You cover it with foil, take your preferred “weight”—rice, dried beans or lentils—and spread it on the crust, and then you bake until the crust is crisp and browned to your desired hue.
What’s the “weight” for?
Heat makes things rise, right? Boil water and the heat turns water into steam that rises above the water level. Turn the air-conditioner on in a hot room without allowing the cold air to circulate and the cold air stays on the same level and below the air-conditioner while the air above it remains warmer.
In baking, it is the heat in the oven that makes cake and bread rise. It’s true for pie and tart crusts too. That’s why the top crust of a double-crusted pie (like apple pie) has to be pierced before the pie goes into the oven. Otherwise, the steam from the filling will make the top crust rise and create an air pocket between it and the filling.
When baking blind, because the crust is baked with no filling, unless you weigh it down, it will rise. Can you imagine a baked crust with a raised center? How in the world can you make the filling even? So, you weigh down the crust during baking to make it stay flat.
“Baking” beans, rice or lentils can be re-used
If you’re thinking that it’s so wasteful to use beans, rice or lentils to weigh down the crust, stop right there. You can re-use the “baking” beans, rice or lentils over and over again in the future for making more crusts that need to be blind baked.
Just remember not to return the “baking” beans, rice or lentils into their original storage container. Store them separately. It’s a good idea to label the separate container so that no one in your household will get confused.
Alex's Fruit Tart
- 1/3 recipe basic pie crust IMPORTANT: Ditch the shortening and use more butter in its place
For the custard
For the topping
- 4 to 5 fresh strawberries
- 1 fresh kiwi
- peach slices (we used canned) or use slices of fresh mango
Blind bake the crust
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Make the crust dough (recipe and instructions). Remember to use only one-third of the ingredients, and substitute more butter for the required amount of shortening. Roll the dough to a thickness of one-fourth inch.
- Spray or brush a six-inch tart pan lightly with oil.
- Lay the rolled dough (see how) in the tart pan. Press lightly for a snug fit. Cut off any excess (you don't need overhangs for this tart).
- Place a piece of aluminum foil over the crust. Spread enough dried beans or lentils, or rice, on the foil to cover the bottom of the crust.
- Blind bake the crust at 400F for 20 to 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and, if still not crisp, bake another five to ten minutes until you get the desired texture.
- Cool the crust in the pan for a few minutes then carefully remove from the pan. If you used non-stick paper, peel it off. Cool the crust completely on a rack.
Make the custard
- While the crust bakes, make the custard. In a pan, mix together the sugar, starch, flour, salt, milk and cream. Stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour half of the cooked mixture into the beaten egg yolks, mixing to incorporate.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan, stir well, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly, until the mixture is thick.
- Transfer the custard to a bowl and lay a sheet of cling film directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming. Cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge for a few hours.
Assemble the fruit tart
- Hull the strawberries and cut into one-fourth inch slices.
- Peel the kiwi and cut into one-fourth inch slices.
- Place the cooled crust on a plate. Pour the cooled custard to about a quarter inch below the brim. Use a small offset spatula to spread the filling evenly.
- Arrange the sliced fruits on top of the custard. You may use the photos of Alex's fruit tart as a guide or you may want to arrange the fruits differently. Just be creative.
Serve the fruit tart
- The fruit tart may be sliced and served immediately after assembly. Or keep in the fridge until needed.