SERVES 8 TO 10
Making a fruit tart like those in Sandri's display windows in not difficult at all. Here is how to construct one of your own. Begin by making a short-cut pastry dough that is fitted into a tart shell pan, and then baked. A velvety pastry cream is spread over the tart, and last a variety of fresh seasonal fruits are arranged on top.
Both the dough and the pastry cream can be made ahead of time. Be artistic in how you arrange the fruit, mixing and matching to achieve vivid color. Signora Carla would be proud!
1 2/3 cups whole milk
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
6 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2" piece of vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
Pour the milk into a 1 quart saucepan and stir in the lemon zest. Heat it over low heat just until bubbles start to appear at the edge of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside while you beat the egg yolks, egg, and sugar in a bowl with a hand-held mixer until the eggs look very pale yellow. Slowly beat in the flour and the salt until the mixture is well blended. Pour the heated milk into the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the butter, then add the vanilla bean or stir in the vanilla or almond extract. Pour the pastry cream into a clean bowl and cover it with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on top of the cream. Refrigerate until needed. This can be made at least three days ahead of time. Remove the vanilla bean before using the pastry cream.
2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into bits
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons apricot jam
Assorted fresh fruits (strawberries, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, plums, nectarines, peaches) cut into thin slices or left whole to arrange on top of the tart
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
Use a food processor or your hands to make the dough. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and butter together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, or blend the ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork or pastry blender until the butter is in small bits. The whole idea here is to coat the flour proteins with the butter to prevent gluten from forming which would make a tough pastry dough, so be sure the butter is very cold.
Beat the egg yolk and the vinegar together in a small bowl with a fork. Add this to the food processor with the motor running, or to the bowl if you are making this by hand, and process or blend until a rough-looking dough starts to form. Slowly add in enough of the cold water for a ball of dough to form that holds together. The dough does not need to form a complete ball of dough but you should be able to gather it up without it crumbling.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight to make it easier to roll.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
Flatten the dough with a rolling pin and roll it between 2 sheets of wax paper into a 12-inch circle. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour, then fold it in fourths. Lift the dough and position it with the point of the fold in the center of the tart pan. Unfold the dough and fit it into the pan, allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Trim the edges even with a scissors and press the dough even with the top of the pan. Poke holes in the tart shell with a fork to allow for air to escape during baking. Place a sheet of foil over the top of the dough and weigh it down with dried beans or rice; this will help prevent the tart shell from puffing up as it bakes.
Bake the tart shell for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake the tart 2 or 3 minutes longer, or until it is light golden brown. Let the tart shell cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
Heat the apricot jam until it melts. Cool slightly then brush the jam over the base of the shell; this will seal it and prevent it from becoming soggy when the pastry cream is added.
Spread the pastry cream in the shell. Chill uncovered for 2 hours.
Arrange the selection of fruits on top of the pastry cream in a decorative pattern. Sometimes I also add long ribbons of shaved chocolate on top of the fruit, but this is optional. Sprinkle the tart with confectioners' sugar. Cut into wedges to serve.
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