Sunday, September 15, 2013

In Greece again (and a fruit tart)

Even though this beautiful berry and crème pâtissière tart on pâte sucrée was made last week in the Netherlands, I’m writing this from a different place. I’m in Greece!

We arrived a few days ago and we are reveling in the warm hot weather, the friendly faces, the good food and the beauty of our surroundings. Yes, Athens is beautiful, especially this time of year.

It is very much summer at the moment in Greece, with temperatures at 35 degrees Celsius, but when we left the Netherlands, there was a thunderstorm and we couldn’t walk one meter without getting soaked to the bone.

That is all behind us at the moment and we’re looking forward to starting our summer vacation. Part of it will be spent in Athens and the rest in an undisclosed location. I’ll share photos and stories at some point.

In the meantime, I didn’t want to leave this recipe for a sweet tart in my files all lonely and unshared. It is delicious, colorful and sinful—don’t let the innocent-looking berries on top fool you, the calories in this are a lot—, a tart worthy of a celebration, any type of celebration really, even the “I had a rough day at work and managed not to freak out” kind of celebration.

The pâte sucrée is buttery and crisp like a biscuit and a tiny bit harder than the common version, but only so that it creates a nice contrast to the creamy, smooth, rich crème pâtissière. The crème is also slightly different from the common pastry cream, as it contains more eggs that make it somewhat stronger. The addition of whipped cream though, lightens it and makes it more creamy and airy.

The fresh fruits, devoid of any icing sugar or apricot glaze, give not only freshness and lightness to the tart, but also a slight sharpness and liveliness to it. The more fruit the better. Try to use different kinds.

I used blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, red currants and strawberry-grapes. I was so surprised to find these at the market in The Hague, they’re a hybrid, and they taste just like their name implies; grape flavor with a hint of strawberry sweetness.

I hope you enjoy making this tart as much as I did and more so when you eat it!

Crème Pâtissière and Fresh Berry Tart

Crème pâtissière (pastry cream) is a rich, creamy, smooth and thick custard made with eggs, milk, sugar and corn flour, and can have flavorings like vanilla, various liqueurs, coffee, etc. It is used as a filling for tarts, éclairs, choux and many more.

Pâte sucrée (sweet pastry crust) is a sweet and rich pastry with a crisp, biscuit-like texture. It is made with flour, butter, icing sugar and eggs, and it’s used as the base for sweet tarts whose filling don’t need baking.

You don’t have to use a variety of fruits on top of the tart, but you can go with just one. You can also use any type of fruits you like as long as they are not too wet. For example, strawberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, figs, grapes will work beautifully in this tart.

Yield: 6-8 pieces


for the pâte sucrée (pastry)
250 g all-purpose flour, sieved
100 g unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing the pan
100 g icing sugar, sieved
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or the scraped seeds from 1 fresh vanilla bean
3 egg yolks plus 1 egg yolk, from large eggs
1 Tbsp whole fresh milk

for the crème pâtissière (cream)
500 ml whole fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or the scraped seeds from 1 fresh vanilla bean
7 egg yolks, from medium-sized eggs
125 g caster sugar
60 g corn flour
150 ml cream, full fat (35%)

Fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, red currants, seedless grapes

Special equipment: fine sieve, large food processor, rolling pin, plastic wrap, fluted tart pan (22 cm in diameter) with removable bottom, baking paper, baking weights or dried beans, pastry brush, wire whisk, hand-held electric mixer


for the pâte sucrée
• with a food processor
In a large food processor, add the flour, butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste or seeds and process, tilting and gently shaking the bowl until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs or almond meal. Then add 3 egg yolks and process until just combined and you have a very crumbly dough that barely holds together.

• by hand
In a large bowl, add the flour, icing sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste or seeds and stir with a spatula. Add the cubed cold butter and, using two knives, a pastry cutter/blender or your fingertips, cut it into the flour, until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs or almond meal. Then make a well in the middle, add 3 egg yolks and mix with your hands, working quickly, until just combined and you have a very crumbly dough that barely holds together. Don’t knead the dough.

Empty the pastry dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap (do not knead it because you will activate the gluten in the flour which will make the pastry tough and it will shrink during baking), form a disk, cover it and place it in the refrigerator to chill, for about 1 hour.

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of your tart pan.

Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and discard the plastic wrap and place dough between two large sheets of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 0.3 cm, taking care to keep the dough neat and tear-free.
Remove the top sheet of baking paper, slide your hand underneath the bottom baking paper and carefully and gently invert the dough onto the tart pan, allowing it to fall little-by-little onto the pan base. Remove the baking paper from the top and carefully and gently again line the pan with the pastry, pushing it into the curved sides of the pan. If it tears, don’t fret; just use the overhanging dough to cover those tears. Using the back of a knife, cut the excess dough that's hanging around the edges of the pan.
Place the tart pan in the refrigerator and chill the dough for about 20 minutes.

Note: In case you have left-over dough, you can keep it in the freezer, wrapped in cling film or in a ziploc bag, for up to a month. Thaw it and use it to make smaller tarts or biscuits.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit.

Take the tart pan out of the refrigerator and prick the base of the dough with a fork all around. Line the bottom and sides of the dough with a large enough piece of baking paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pan on a baking sheet and on the middle rack of the oven and bake the pastry for 15-17 minutes.
In the meantime, in a small bowl, add 1 egg yolk and the milk (1 Tbsp) and mix well with a fork.
Take the pan out of the oven, remove the baking paper along with the pie weights and check that the base is slightly golden. Brush pastry well with the egg yolk-milk mixture and return pastry to the oven, without the baking sheet this time. Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the dough is golden.

Note: The glazing of the pastry “seals” it somehow, and it prevents it from getting soggy and soft when the filling is added.

Remove tart pan from the oven, place onto a wire rack to cool completely and then remove the pastry from the pan.

for the crème pâtissière
While the pastry dough is resting, start making the crème pâtissière, which will also need time to cool in the refrigerator before using.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan add 400 ml of the milk, the vanilla paste or seeds and a 1 Tbsp of the sugar, and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

Note: By adding sugar to the milk it prevents it from catching and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

In the meantime, in a medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar and whisk with a wire whisk until you have a smooth mixture. Add the corn flour and the remaining 100 ml of the milk and whisk to combine.

Gradually whisk milk mixture into the egg mixture (don’t worry about curdling, it won’t as the egg mixture has corn flour in it) until combined well. Empty this mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisking continuously, wait until the cream begins to bubble and then remove it from the heat. Transfer the cream to a clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap adheres to the surface of the cream, which will prevent it from forming a skin.
Place the crème pâtissière in the refrigerator for an hour or until it has cooled.

Note: You can make the crème pâtissière a day in advance.

When the crème pâtissière has cooled, whip the cream with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Whisk the crème pâtissière with a wire whisk to loosen it, but if you find that it has become too stiff to whisk by hand, switch to a hand-held electric mixer.
Fold the whipped cream into the crème pâtissière using a spatula.

Assemble the tart
Fill the tart shell with the crème pâtissière mixture. Arrange the assorted fruits on top and serve.
Alternatively, you can fill the tart shell with the cream mixture and place it in the fridge until you want to serve it. Add the fruits on top just before serving.

You can keep the tart in the refrigerator, uncovered (or lightly covered with a piece of plastic wrap) for 2 days.


  1. it looks out of this world and i bet it tastes great :) from where have u bought this fruits?i never find it in "laiki".

    1. I made this tart in the Netherlands. It's very difficult to find these fruits in Greece, especially at a λαική. You can substitute with different kinds of fruit.

  2. Oh boy Magda, there's a few eggs going on in there!!! :p
    Surelly a perfect tart for a celebration. I will love to make it for Xmas!

    I wish we too were back in Greece. We were supposed to go this year but Marco did not have holidays, so I spent the last two weeks beaching at Porto and being extremelly lazy.
    Maybe next year we can manage to go in september (which I find the best time to go to Greece).
    Happy holidays! :*

  3. First, have a wonderful holiday - you deserve all that warmth and sunshine! Second, the tart is just beautiful - and the simplicity of the plain fruit on top is really perfect. Have fun!

  4. Wow, this tart is pastry-store worthy! Hope you are having a great time at home. I am sure it was worth the wait.

  5. Madga, what an absolutely stunning tart you have for us today! And your photos couldn't be more beautiful.
    I hope you are enjoying your vacation in Greece (one of my favorite spots on the planet, as you well know). I can't wait for the photos, stories and recipes you return with.

  6. You must be delighted to be back in your home country! And the weather for sure will be joy after rainy Holland.

    Your post is a work of art, your photos are works of art,and I am sure the tart is a work of art! I can cook, but I wish I could take photos like yours. Anyway, I'll make the tart!

    Have a happy time home. As a fellow expat, I know how it feels to be back in your old familiar homeland (which for me is rainy Holland ;)

  7. All the adjectives I can think of to describe you beautiful tart seem rather inappropriate. So I will just say I like this post so much and enjoy your blog very much and always look forward to what you are doing.

  8. Hope you have a wonderful time in Greece. The tart looks sensational!

  9. This looks absolutely lovely, fresh and delicious and your description of the method is so clear and precise.

  10. Is corn flour called corn starch in America?