Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Raspberry Custard Tart

One of the lovely simple desserts I tried in France (on the few occasions I was able to resist gorging on tarte tatin) was a custard raspberry tart. Emily and I were starving and needed a bit of a snack before making the uphill trek to the medieval walled city of Perrouge. Luckily, we passed a modest café that had coffee and pastries, and their raspberry tart looked especially appealing.

I don’t think the tart I had was fancy, especially by French standards, but one of the lovely things about France is the level of particularity with which baked goods are attended in even humble establishments. The tart was custardy and not over-sweet in a soft, flaky crust. Naturally, I wanted to see if I could do as well in my American kitchen.

I used this recipe as a starting point, but because I have a 9” tart shell – and because raspberries are expensive, and I suspected a half pint of berries would suffice– I reduced the quantities of filling somewhat.

My reductions resulted in a modest, tasty tart that is not over-sweet and that does indeed let the raspberry flavor shine through. It’s not a huge or pillowy tart, but the amount of custard and berries is well-balanced with the flaky shell. It’s good stuff. I’ll definitely be making it again, though I might wait until berries are actually in season. That way, I’ll feel less guilty about eschewing even the appearance of locavore and seasonal baking.

One could probably substitute blackberries, blueberries, apricots, or plums for the raspberries to good effect.

Raspberry Custard Tart

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water

Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it’s incorporated in pea-sized lumps – you can use your fingers, two knives, a pastry cutter, a fork, or whatever to accomplish this.

In a small cup, whisk together the egg yolk and the water. Add slowly to the flour/butter mixture and stir just until combined. You might need slightly more water to get the dough to adhere; if you do, add it a tablespoon at a time (and use cold water).

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Tart filling:
1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry (frozen would probably work in a pinch, but I think fresh really do add something)
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg
¼ cup sugar
Seeds of ½ a vanilla bean (or 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
¼ teaspoon almond extract.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out pastry dough and pat into 9” tart shell. Lay raspberries evenly across the bottom of the pastry.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour into tart shell. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set.

It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever baked – the custard puffed up a bit in the oven, and by the time I checked and deflated it, some of the raspberries were permanently clustered where the air bubble had been.

But who wants to eat a perfect-looking tart anyway? This one has rustic charm, and rustic is preferable to polished and perfect in just about every context but wedding cake.  That's what I'm telling myself about it.

Printable recipe here.


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  2. I love that you use the word eschew! The tart looks amazing... they always tell us that our versions can't be the same as theirs because their flour is different... do you think so? This looks like a keeper.

  3. I'm a nerd, I really am. :) I think they do have different flour and butter -- this isn't exactly like what I had there, but it's close enough that my craving is satisfied.

    Although the biggest difference in texture I've detected is actually that the one in France seemed more eggy in texture, but had less of an egg flavor to the custard ... which I'm at a loss to explain. Both versions are good.

  4. Becky

    I love your tart! It is so cheerful, bursting with color and goodness, and what a great way to greet springtime! I will make it however I will probably add more than the 1/4 cup of sugar that you used, I guess my sweet tooth requires it!

  5. Thanks so much! A little extra sugar never hurt anyone. :)

  6. Hi Becky! I'm actually trying this recipe today, but using blackberries...contemplating doing half blackberries and half blueberries to make things interesting. Thanks so much for sharing!


  7. Sounds delicious -- I hope you love it!

  8. Did blackberries/blueberries...YUMMY!