When you are making a fruit tart, the moisture that leaks out of the fruit during cooking can make the base of the pastry soggy, even if you have blind-baked the pastry case first. Here are the best ways we have found to prevent this happening.
For cooked fruit tarts:
– Sprinkle a light layer of oatmeal across the bottom of the tart before you add the fruit. It will soak up the fruit juices and you won’t notice the oats in the finished tart. French patisserie chef Pierre Hermé uses génoise crumbs instead (but the crumbs from any type of sponge will do).
– Macerate the fruit with sugar first to encourage the fruit to give up its juice – simply place the fruit in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar, leave it for 20-30 minutes, then spoon the fruit out of the bowl and into the pastry case, leaving the juices behind. Either drink the juice (it’s good for you) or boil it down to make a syrup to serve with the finished tart or to spoon over yogurt. (Macerating soft fruit is a good thing to do, even if you are not making a tart. It brings out the sweetness of the fruit and concentrates the flavours. Leave the fruit and sugar together for a half an hour and you will notice a difference. It is especially good for strawberries.)
– After blind-baking the tart shell, seal the bottom of the pastry by brushing the pastry with egg yolk, an egg wash (mix the egg yolk with a little milk) or an egg white and pop the pastry case – without the baking beans – back in the oven for 5 minutes before adding the filling. The egg will form a seal and stop the fruit seeping into the pastry.
For fresh fruit tarts:
– Make fresh fruit tarts with berries that don’t ‘bleed’ or leak juice. Spoon custard or a fruit curd into the cooked tart shell and place uncooked berries such as fresh blueberries, raspberries, red currants or halved strawberries on top.
– Brush melted chocolate over the base of the cooked tart or tartlet cases and leave to harden before adding the fruit. Not only will this give the eater a delicious surprise, but the melted chocolate will harden and stop the fruit soaking the pastry. Allow the melted chocolate to firm up before you add the fruit.
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