First off let me apologise, mainly because this tart is a bit of a bugger to make. Difficult? Not especially, its just a bit fiddly and has the tendency to break at a crucial point (more on that later). Secondly it's not particularly seasonal. Normally I wouldn't post a recipe full of beautiful berries until they were in season but the idea for this recipe has been an itch I just had to scratch. Its a fairly standard fruit tart with one major difference, there is a big hole in the middle. It might only an aesthetic thing but I'm completely smitten with the way it looks, somehow both more elegant and refined than the normal round affair. The initial idea came from a picture of a Christophe Michalak recipe who had used the shape for a beautiful raspberry tart. I wish it was as easy as using a specially designed tart tin but I had to get a little bit more improvisational to make this, so more apologies if this is using equipment you don't have (I promise i'll get back to my usual approachable recipes next time, indulge me this once).
I guess it is appropriate that I am posting this today as on Monday I am escaping London, if only briefly, for a quick trip to Paris. A couple of days to wander the streets, indulge in a few (maybe a few too many) pastries and generally lose myself a bit.
For my version of this tart I wanted a riot of colour and flavour so the custard is boosted by passion fruit and the berries are a jumble of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and redcurrants with some pistachios to gild the lilly.
That tricky part I mentioned? Well that happens to be the hole, well actually the wall of the tart around the middle. I find my sweet pastry recipe pretty resistant to shrinkage but even a little bit of shrinkage can be a pain in this recipe, if the tart shell shrinks as it bakes the middle can pull apart from the base and even break in half. In one of my tests of the recipe when it did shrink I found it could still be rescued (use beaten egg yolk as a glue to patch it back together, baking for a couple extra minutes until hardened) but bear this in mind when making and make sure to read the tips at the end of the recipe.
Berry and Passion Fruit Tart
200g plain flour
20g ground almonds
35g icing sugar
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1 large egg yolk
approx 1/2 tbsp ice cold water
Passion Fruit Pastry Cream
285ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
135g caster sugar
3 passion fruit
250g mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries and redcurrants)
pistachios, to garnish (optional)
To make the pastry place the flour, almonds, icing sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. In a small bowl mix together the egg yolks, water and vanilla, add to the food processor and pulse until the pastry just starts to come together. Dont mix until the dough forms a solid mass as this will overwork the pastry and make it tough and risk it shrinking more as it bakes. Tip the dough out onto the worksurface and use your hands to bring together into a uniform dough, forming into a disc and wrapping in clingfilm. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour before using.
To make the pastry cream place the milk into a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, egg, sugar and cornflour. Pour over the milk and whisk together to combine. Pour the custard back into the pan and over medium/high heat cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and set aside. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop the flesh into a sieve set over the pastry cream, pushing on the seeds to release the juice. Discard the seeds and mix the juice into the pastry cream. Press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate until needed, at least an hour.
Take the pastry from the fridge and cut off a small strip and set aside. Roll out the main pastry on a floured worksurface until about 2-3mm thick. Use to line a 9 inch tart ring, trimming off any excess. Use a 3 inch pastry ring to cut out a disc of pastry from the centre of the tart. Roll out the small strip of pastry until it is about 2-3mm thick and long enough to roll around the pastry ring. Trim the strip so it is the same height as the tart shell. Lightly brush the pastry ring with butter and attach the pastry strip to the ring and press into the hole in the middle of the tart shell. Place the tart shell into the fridge for 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and line the tart with a crumpled piece of parchment paper and fill with baking beans or rice (it is easier if the paper has a hole in the middle). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then remove the parchment and the baking beans and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before very carefully removing the pastry ring from the centre of the tart. Spread the chilled pastry cream into the tart shell and top with the berries (my preference is to cut the cherries in half but i'll leave that up to you). Finish with a light dusting of icing sugar and a few pistachios.
Like most fruit tarts this is best served on the day it is made but if you cover with clingfilm and refrigerate it will be good for a couple days longer.
Tips: This recipe will succeed on the quality of the pastry so to prevent it from shrinking there are two things to bear in mind. When adding the water be careful about adding the right amount. Water evaporates from pastry as it bakes and contributes to shrinkage, so adding too much can make it shrink further. Secondly be very careful not to overwork the pastry. The more you handle it the tougher it can end up and the more it will shrink.