Today’s recipe for a Fresh Fruit Tart comes from Cassandra Schowengerdt, who works in marketing at The News-Gazette.
She tweaked it from a recipe from a cookbook called “The Food of Italy: Region by Region,” by Claudia Roden.
Schowengerdt bought the book in Italy, where she was studying abroad and took a cooking class that explored regional Italian cooking.
She recently made this tart, which is from the region of Umbria and is filled with custard. She recommends assembling it just before eating to keep the crust from getting soggy.
The original recipe includes measurements in grams and ounces, but I took out the grams for clarity’s sake. If you’d like those, please email me at the address below.
Fresh Fruit Tart
For the pastry shell:
4 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces flour
2 tablespoons super-fine sugar
2 egg yolks
2 to 4 tablespoons water or milk
1 egg white
For the custard:
8 ounces sugar
5 egg yolks
3 ounces flour
18 fluid ounces milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (this is Schowengerdt’s substitute; you could also use an optional 4 tablespoons of kirsch, rum, maraschino or cognac)
5 ounces blanched almonds, finely chopped (optional)
For the filling:
Choose from cherries, plums, greengages, peaches, nectarines, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, figs, bananas, tangerines, oranges or kiwis.
10 ounces or more apricot jelly for the glaze
Cut the butter into pieces and rub into the mixed flour and sugar. Add the egg yolks and just enough water or milk to bind it into a soft dough, stirring with a knife, then briefly mixing with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in a cool place for one hour.
Roll out the dough on a floured board with a floured rolling pin. Lift it up with the rolling pin and lay it gently into a 13-inch tart tin or flan dish, pat it into place and press it into the sides.
Trim the edges and prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing. Bake the shell in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and brush with egg white to seal the crust and prevent it from becoming soggy.
Return to the oven for five to 10 minutes longer, or until it is a light golden color. It will become firm and crusty as it cools.
For the custard, beat the sugar into the egg yolks until light and pale, then beat in the flour. Bring the milk to a boil and pour into the egg mixture gradually, beating vigorously until well blended.
Pour into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for three minutes longer, stirring occasionally so that the custard does not burn at the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the alcohol or vanilla and the almonds (optional) and let the custard cool before spreading it in the pastry shell. Pack as much fruit, peeled, seeded, pitted or sliced and skinned where necessary, as you can on top, mixing them if you like and making an attractive pattern. To coat the fruit with a light glaze, melt the apricot jelly in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and spoon it over the fruit.
Note: Poach fruits that discolor in sugar syrup for five to 10 minutes, then drain. For the syrup, boil 18 fluid ounces of water with 1 pound sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
Variation: Instead of the custard, use a jam or a fresh-fruit puree. Blend very ripe sweet fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and black currants with a little sugar and spread on the cooled pastry shell.