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Summer Berry and Custard Tarts

Summer berry and custard tarts - crispy pastry filled with creamy vanilla custard and topped with fresh, juicy berries. A delicious, elegant summer dessert.
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 Individual Tarts
Calories 412kcal
Author Charlotte Oates

Equipment

  • 8 individual tartlet tins - Loose bottomed tins are best so the tarts pop out easily and I've never had a problem with the pastry sticking.
  • A couple of large bowls
  • Weighing scales
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cling film
  • Fork
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Measuring jug
  • Small-medium sized saucepan
  • Whisk

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 275 g plain flour
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • A little vegetable oil to grease the tins

For the custard

  • 600 ml full fat milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 60 g caster sugar
  • 60 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract this may seem like a lot, but unless the custard has a strong vanilla flavour it will become lost alongside the pastry and berries

To serve

  • 8 handfuls of summer berries the exact weight depend on the berries you're using. For example, 350g strawberries.
  • A sprinkling of icing sugar because it looks pretty

Instructions

Make the custard

  • Put the full-fat milk (600ml) into a saucepan and heat very gently until warmed but not quite boiling.
  • Meanwhile, separate 8 eggs, putting the yolks into a large bowl (you can freeze the egg whites to use another day if you don't need them).
  • Add the caster sugar (60g) to the egg yolks and whisk until combined.
  • Add the plain flour (60g) and vanilla extract (1 tbsp) to the egg yolks and whisk until combined.
  • Once the milk is warm, remove it from the heat and gradually add it to the other ingredients a bit at a time, whisking in each addition of milk thoroughly before adding more.
  • Once combined, put the mixture into the pan and return to a very gentle heat. Continue to cook, whisking constantly until the custard is thick. You want the custard to be much thicker than you would use for pouring on a dessert, as you move your whisk it should leave a clear trail that doesn't immediately disappear. You must keep the custard moving constantly to avoid it burning or going lumpy.
  • Once the custard has thickened pour it into a bowl or jug and cover with clingfilm. It's important that the top of the custard is in full contact with the clingfilm to prevent a skin forming while the custard cools.
  • Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

While the custard is chilling make the pastry

  • Sift the plain flour (275g) into a large bowl.
  • Add the caster sugar (40g).
  • Cut the butter (125g) into cubes and add to the bowl.
  • Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs - I find this easier to do if I have cold hands as it helps to keep butter firmer.
  • Once the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs, add the egg to the mixture.
  • Mix the egg into the mixture and them bring it together with your hands - if it seems a bit dry knead it a few times until it comes together. Be careful not to over knead the pastry as this will make it less tender to eat.
  • Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and put into the fridge to chill for half an hour.

Cook your pastry

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan.
  • Lightly grease the tins with a little vegetable oil
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out until it is very thin (you should be able to see the shadow of your hand through it if you hold it underneath) and slightly larger than the tin (I find about 1x the size of the base + 2x the sides of the tin about right. I find it easier to roll out the pastry for each tart individually. If you have trouble with the pastry sticking to the rolling pin/board have a quick look at my extra tip above.
  • Gently lift the pastry into the tins and ease it into the edges so that it is in complete contact with the tin.
  • Trim off the excess pastry at the top of the tin using a sharp knife or rolling your rolling pin across the top.
  • Use a fork to prick holes across the bottom and up the sides of the pastry - it's essential that the holes go all the way through the pastry as this allows the air to escape while it cooks. If you don't do this you'll find that your pastry domes up at the bottom and the sides collapse.
  • Place the tins on a baking tray and put in the oven for 12-14 minutes until just golden.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven. Leave the tart shells in their tins for at least 10 minutes after removing from the oven to allow them to harden a little. Remove them from the tins and leave them to cool fully on a wire rack.

Build the tarts

  • Evenly distribute the custard between the tart shells and top with the summer fruit of your choice.
  • Finish with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Notes

Makes 8 individual tarts (although I'll often make 4 by halving the ingredients for the custard and berries and freezing the remaining pastry to use another day)
The total time quoted above assumes that you make the tarts all in one go. However, the pastry can be made in advance and frozen until you want to cook it. The cooked tart shells can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container and similarly the custard will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
Once you've got the component parts cooked, assembly of the tarts is really quick. If you're having friends or family over for dinner you can get all of the hard work out of the way and quickly stick them together just before serving.
If this all seems like a lot of effort then you can use pre-made tart shells. Ready made custard is a little runny so put it into a pan, add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract and gently heat until it has reached the desired thickness. Stir it constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn or go lumpy.
The nutritional information provided assumes you use 430g of strawberries to top the eight tarts. If you use other fruit the nutritional information will vary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tart | Calories: 412kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.3g | Protein: 9.6g | Fat: 21.3g | Saturated Fat: 11.7g | Sodium: 40mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 19.6g