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Dorie Greenspan’s Classic Fruit Tart

Dorie Greenspan’s Classic Fruit Tart
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This dessert is a showboat.  It looks like it came straight from Paris’ best patisserie.  And indeed its inspiration did.  It was Dorie Greenspan’s introduction to French pastry, an all-strawberry version and the first pastry she tasted when she first set foot in France.  It certainly left some impression because Ms. Greenspan went on to create this recipe herself.   The concentric circles of luscious fresh berries conceal the silky pastry cream and the pastry crust itself is beautifully browned.  You don’t have to limit yourselves to the three berries Andrew used here.  You could make this with a single fruit or more.  In Paris, you’ll come across versions where as many as a dozen fruits are cut into pieces and used as toppings.  Ms. Greenspan shared this recipe in “Baking Chez Moi” (2014 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) where she laid down some rules. Follow on and I’ll share them with you.

First off, Ms. Greenspan insists on perfection in the three elements that make up the tart.  The crust, she says, must be very brown, if not you won’t get the full effect of all its flavors.  The dough can be made ahead of time but the baking needs to be done as close to serving time as possible.  The pastry cream should be very cold and well-flavored too.  Depending on your choice of fruit, you can add another layer of flavor by adding a drop of almond extract or orange or lemon oil.  Even a splash of rum and kirsch can make the pastry cream even better.   She suggests  making the pastry cream a day in advance so the flavors blend and it has enough time to get cold.  The fruit itself should be at the peak of its ripeness. There’s one caveat here which is that you don’t want any water from the berries on the pastry cream. So if you don’t have to wash the berries, so much the better. But if you do wash the fruit, you must thoroughly dry the berries.  And finally, the tart should be put together no more than a few hours before serving.       

At serving time, it’s best to use a serrated knife to cut the tart. Carefully unmold it and slide it onto the serving platter.  Gently slice through the berries and pastry cream and then add more pressure to the knife to cut the pastry itself cleanly.  Don’t let the length of the recipe intimidate you. Ms Greenspan is one of the most detailed of all recipe writers.  It is really quite quick and easy, especially if you can make the pastry cream the night before, letting it chill overnight.  Here is the recipe:

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