Classic French Fruit Tart
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This classic French fruit tart has a buttery shortbread crust, a creamy vanilla custard, and heaps of fresh fruit.
This classic French fruit tart combines three equally delicious elements: a crisp, buttery shortbread crust (or pâte sucrée), a creamy vanilla custard (or crême pâtissière), and heaps of fresh fruit. The recipe comes from my friend Lisa Kolb Ruland, the pastry chef behind the beautiful and inspiring blog Unpeeled (sign up for Lisa’s weekly newsletter — you’ll be glad you did!). The fruit tart comes together easily but looks like it came straight out of a French pâtisserie window, and it tastes even better than it looks.
You’ll need a 9.5 x 1-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe. These pans can be ordered online or found in any kitchen store (my local hardware store even carries them in their kitchenware section). Decorating the tart is the fun part. You can do a more traditional French design of carefully arranged fruit, a more free-form fruit pattern, or a mix, like the one shown above. Just have fun with it — as long as you use ample fruit, it will look gorgeous!
What You’ll Need To Make A Classic French Fruit Tart
Before we get to the step-by-step instructions, a quick word about the fruit. Fresh berries are a top choice for a French fruit tart. They look pretty and colorful, and they generally stay perky longer than cut fruit. If you’d like to add a pop of additional color, mango and kiwi slices are good options, as they will not oxidize and turn brown (avoid sliced apples and bananas for this reason). It’s best to also avoid melon and other fruit with high moisture content, like sliced citrus, as these fruits will wilt quickly and seep moisture into the pastry cream.
Step 1: Prepare the Crust
Prepare the pâte sucrée recipe through baking and cooling. A pâte sucrée is a crisp yet tender pastry crust that is slightly sweet. (In French, pâte means dough and sucrée means sweet.) The dough maintains its shortbread-like texture even when chilled, which makes it ideal for tarts that require refrigeration.
Step 2: Make the Pastry Cream
Pastry cream, or crême pâtissière, is a sweet, vanilla pudding-like custard that is used in many desserts, like cream puffs, éclairs, and fruit tarts. To make it, begin by heating the milk in a medium pot until just boiling. Remove the pot from heat.
Add the sugar, egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch to a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Whisk until the mixture is very smooth and has lightened in color, about 2 minutes.
Whisking constantly, add about a quarter of the hot milk into the egg mixture.
Pour the milk-tempered egg mixture into the pot of the remaining milk. Whisk to combine.
Return the pot to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent “scrambled eggs,” especially on the sides and bottom, until the pastry cream thickens, about 2 minutes. A flat whisk is ideal for this task. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
Cook one minute more, whisking constantly. The pastry cream should make thick, lazy bubbles.
Pour the thickened pastry cream into a clean, shallow bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and push it down in the bowl so it sits directly on the surface of the pastry cream. This prevents a skin from forming on top. Chill until cold, a few hours or up to 2 days.
Step 3: Assemble the Fruit Tart
Remove the tart ring and transfer the tart shell to a serving platter. Whisk the chilled pastry cream until smooth, then spread it evenly into the tart shell using an offset spatula.
Arrange a generous amount of fruit over the pastry cream in your desired design. As mentioned above, you can do a more traditional French design of concentric circles of arranged fruit (see bottom of post for an example), a free-form fruit pattern, or a mix. Be sure to be generous with the fruit and cover the pastry cream completely.
If you’d like to do a mango or kiwi slice rosette in the center, leave a space in the middle of the tart. Start from the outside and work your way to the center, overlapping each slice a little on top of the next.
Finally, heat the apricot jam with a tablespoon of water and dab it over the fruit. This glaze makes the fruit tart shine and also locks in the fruit’s freshness.
Here’s a more traditional design with concentric circles of fruit. So pretty!
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Classic French Fruit Tart
This classic French fruit tart has a buttery shortbread crust, a creamy vanilla custard, and heaps of fresh fruit.
- 1 recipe pâte sucrée (sweet tart dough)
- 2 cups whole milk (do not substitute low-fat or skim milk)
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- About 4 cups fresh mixed berries of choice, plus other fruits, such as sliced kiwi or mango (see note)
- ¼ cup apricot jam
- Make the Crust: Complete the pâte sucrée through baking and cooling.
- Make the Pastry Cream: In a medium pot, heat the milk until just boiling. Remove the pot from heat. While the milk is warming, in a heat-proof mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Whisk until the mixture is very smooth and has lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add about a quarter of the hot milk into the egg mixture. (This is called tempering. Tempering the eggs helps raise their temperature without cooking them, and helps emulsify them into the milk.) Pour the milk-tempered egg mixture into the pot of the remaining milk. Whisk to combine. Return the pot to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent “scrambled eggs,” especially on the sides and bottom, until the magic happens and the pastry cream thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the butter and vanilla and cook one minute more, whisking constantly. The pastry cream should make thick, lazy bubbles. (See note below if you see any coagulated bits of egg in your custard.) Pour the thickened pastry cream into a clean, shallow bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and push it down in the bowl so it sits directly on the surface of the pastry cream. This prevents a skin from forming on top. Chill until cold, a few hours (or up to 2 days before serving).
- Assemble the Tart: Remove the tart ring and transfer the tart shell to a serving platter. Whisk the chilled pastry cream until smooth, then spread it evenly into the tart shell using an offset spatula. Arrange a generous amount of fruit over the pastry cream in your desired design. In a small saucepan, heat the apricot jam with 1 tablespoon of water over medium heat, whisking, until thin. (Alternatively, heat it in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds.) If the jam is especially chunky, strain it through a sieve. Use a pastry brush to gently dab the fruit with a thin layer of apricot glaze. Chill until ready to serve.
- Note: Avoid melon and other fruit with high moisture content, like sliced citrus. These will wilt quickly and seep moisture into the pastry cream. Also avoid oxidizing fruit like apples and bananas; these fruits will turn brown. Berries should be fully dried after rinsing (raspberries should not be washed) and strawberries should be sliced.
- Note: If you see any coagulated egg bits in your finished custard, strain the hot pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: The pastry cream can be made up to 2 days before serving. The tart can be assembled and refrigerated up to one day before serving.
- Per serving (10 servings)
- Calories: 349
- Fat: 16 g
- Saturated fat: 10 g
- Carbohydrates: 47 g
- Sugar: 29 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Sodium: 95 mg
- Cholesterol: 108 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
All elements turned out beautifully. I used a Silpat mini muffin mat pan to make for a party. I would make it again, but the only thing I would change is using a bit less sugar in the pastry and the custard.
This sounds perfect for my son’s birthday! What is the actual purpose of using a pan with a removable ring? Does it affect the final outcome of the tart, or could I simply bake it all in my glass pie dish? I don’t have a tart pan with a removable ring on hand.
Hi Maria, I use a tart pan with a removable ring as it would be really hard to cut and serve the tart in a pie plate. If you want to make this, a tart pan is definitely the best way to go.
I made this for my mom for Mothers Day and she loved it. I appreciate the very detailed instructions. This was a little laborious and time consuming but if you make the dough and filling in advance (the day before) that helps when it’s time to assemble. Everyone thought this was so delicious. It wasn’t too heavy or sickening sweet and the crust stays crispy. I would definitely make this again.
Great recipe, turned out wonderfully – my partner thought I must have bought the tart at a patisserie!
Just wondering if using tinned fruit like peaches and apricot would make the custard runny? Father in laws request for his birthday.
I love this recipe and every-time I make it everyone loves it.
No criticism but the timings in the recipe for the mixing are a little shorter than the time I find it takes to get the consistency in the pictures. For people who have said theirs turned out runny I also almost made that mistake the first time round. You need to keep stirring it’ll thicken eventually.
Hi Sarah, I wouldn’t recommend tinned fruit as I think it will make the custard runny — sorry!
Could I make this beautiful tart without the creme?. I remember eating them in Paris with just crust and fruit. Would I need to add anything?
Hi Hilary, if you’d like to make a tart without the cream, I’d look for a recipe for that as I’m not sure this one would translate well. Hope you find something you enjoy!
This looks delicious. My only concern is that I am not seeing any fresh local berries at my grocery store at this point. Is it important to wait for those before making this? Or – might you have any other suggestions? (And thanks for all of your excellent recipes!)
Hi Katherine, Fresh berries are ideal as they are colorful and generally stay perky longer than cut fruit. You could use also mango and kiwi slices, as they will not oxidize and turn brown (avoid sliced apples and bananas for this reason). It’s best to also avoid melon and other fruit with high moisture content, like sliced citrus, as these fruits will wilt quickly and seep moisture into the pastry cream.
Delicious! Will make it again.
I made this for Easter. My first ever tart. I followed the recipe exactly except for the final glaze where I substituted raspberry preserves instead of apricot jam because that is what i had on hand. Everyone loved the tart and it was delicious.
I am wondering if you can use an alternative milk like oat for the pastry cream? The crust I have a wonderful gluten free flour that will work well but being dairy free, I am wondering if the alternative neutral milk will work.
Hi Donna, unfortunately, I don’t think a milk alternative will work for the pastry cream. If you can find a non-dairy pastry cream alternative (perhaps something made from coconut cream that might be worth a try).
Hello! I am wanting to make this using an 11” vs 9” tart pan. Do you have recommendation on how much I should plan to increase the ingredients by for this pan size?
Hi KellyMarie, You’d need to increase the recipe by 1.5 for an 11-inch pan. Or you could use a 9-inch springform pan. Hope you enjoy!
This is an amazing tart. It is so easy! Super delicious. We didn’t even roll the dough out and the dough set in the fridge for a week and then on the countertop for a week 1/2. We just were so busy! It still came out delicious. I used my fingers to press the dough in a 9” round pie glass plate, added the custard and fruit and voila it was amazing!!
Is there anything I can use in place of the apricot jam? I have honey and raspberry preserves, would either of those work?
Hi Avery, I’d just omit the jam. Enjoy!
Thank you, it turned out beautifully! ❤️
Followed the recipe to a T and my tart came out beautifully! Your instructions were perfect and guided this first timer through every step. Thank you! It was so delicious!
Made this for family exactly as written and it turned out amazing!! I made the pastry cream and the crust from the night before so that it had time to cool down in the fridge overnight and assembled it the next morning. The steps were easy to follow and very quick. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 because I only had a 13-inch pie plate and it still turned out perfectly. My husbands family were floored when they saw the tart and the entire thing was gone by the end of the day! Definitely a dessert to impress and one I’ll be making again and again!
Can you use this recipe to make mini tarts? What adjustments would you make?
Hi Nancy, I haven’t made mini versions of these but I suppose you could. The one thing that would change is the bake time for the crust. It depends on the size of the mini tarts, but I’d guesstimate they’ll need about 18 to 20 minutes in the oven; just keep a close eye on them. Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!
Absolutely loved this recipe. I’m totally new to baking and this was so straightforward and easy to follow. The recipe turned out amazing!
I will add, do not underestimate your power to spread the tart dough it may seem like you don’t have enough but keep spreading.
I made this Classic French Tart with the pâte sucrée a couple of weeks ago for my wife as a little surprise because she likes those little mini tarts so much. I buy them at our local
grocery store’s pastry department. Well, this turned out wonderful. The dilemma I face was how to decorate it. My solution was to decorate a plate first to look see how it looks. This has been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made and it tasted so very good. A great recipe, thank you. I was so proud of how it turned out I took a picture of it and showed it to the pastry department staff. I’ll be doing this again.
Absolutely delicious! I made the pate sucree in the food processor, which was super easy. I also always strain my pastry cream b/c it’s hard to tell if there are small egg bits mixed in, and it guarantees a smooth cream. Love this recipe!
Hello! I have just poured the thickened pastry cream into aa bow and covered it with plastic wrap, pushing it down in the bowl as recommended. But I wonder if next time I could let the mixture cool a bit? It’s still very hot when it comes right off the stovetop, and I wonder about pressing plastic right into it?
Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!!
Hi Laure, it’s fine to wait a few minutes to let it cool. 🙂
This turned out so amazing! Do you think the recipe would double well (to make two tarts), or would you suggest making them separately? Thanks!
Glad you liked it! For the most predictable results, I’d make two separate tarts instead of one large one.
Just got back from a trip to Italy where I had some delicious fruit tarts at local shops. I wanted to reproduce those delicious tarts and I searched the internet and decided to try this recipe.
I am not as skilled with desserts as other cooking but I found the recipe very straightforward and easy to follow. I benefitted from useful descriptions of how things should be like at certain steps. With these directions I found this not at all difficult to make.
The result…. It was absolutely delicious and took me right back to the Italian tarts I had enjoyed. This recipe is definitely a keeper for me.
I made this for my father in law’s birthday as it is his favourite dessert. It was a hit! The pastry had a biscuit crunch and the custard also was good. The only thing I did was I melted and spread a thin layer of chocolate on the pastry and once cooled I spread the custard on top. The chocolate layer will help to avoid the pastry getting soggy.
Made this and it turned out fabulous!
I fully admit to not being a baker…but I love to cook, and I love summer berries! I decided to make this tart, and it looked “ doable” ….I have one word for the result…OUTSTANDING! The pastry cream was made the night before….it was easy, and the pictures were so helpful! The tart came together easily, and I opted for the circular pattern for the berries that I have seen in so many french bakery shops. My guests eyes popped when I presented it…I even took a pic and sent it to Jen…all I heard was ummmms while the tart was eaten…make this dessert and be prepared to claim the glory!!! Its that easy, and that good!
I would love to make this to bring to an event but need to know how far in advance it can be assembled. If kept cold, would four-five hours be ok? Thanks.
Sure – it can be assembled up to a day ahead. Enjoy!
This was even better than my favorite French bakery! Unbelievably good. Thank you!
Do you think any leftover tart would be ok to freeze? It’s just the two of us and I don’t think we should eat the whole thing, even though we’ll probably want to! Looking forward to making this!
I’d be a little hesitant to freeze this because of the dairy it has but if it’s going to go to waste otherwise, I think it’s definitely worth a try. If you do freeze it, I’d love to hear how it is once you’ve thawed it!
I’m not a baker/dessert person and this was delicious.. however the cream was very soft like pudding. I was hoping it would be thicker and set more so we could serve sliced pieces. Should I have whisked more or had the milk cook a little longer? It had one bubble when I took it off heat.
Hi Thuy, Sorry to hear this was not the right consistency. From what you’re describing, it sounds like you didn’t cook the custard enough. You mentioned that it had one bubble when you removed it from the heat. It should be a gentle boil, but you’ll want to cook it until you have multiple bubbles form. Hope that helps!
super simple to make. crust had a delightful taste as well as the cream. I did use almond milk in the custard instead of the whole milk. pastry got a little wet but I did use slice apricots and peaches which may of contributed. next time I will use the whole milk. this recipe is a keeper.
Made this recipe including the pâte sucrée crust recipe https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/pate-sucree-sweet-tart-dough.html
and it was lovely. Wonderful, compliments abound. The only problem is I forgot to take a photo and tips on how to handle the pâte sucrée plate but that is neither here nor there. This is one of the most accurate recipes I have ever made.
Have the vanilla and butter ready to add to the thickening custard since it is a non-stop whisk adventure. Or have a handsome sous chef at the ready.
For those who want a faster custard chill, in a 1 gallon zip lock bag put crushed ice and spread it over the low bowl or plate on top of the cellophane. This will help the the whole cool faster as heat rises.
I made this for a friend’s anniversary party and it was absolutely delicious. Your recipes never fail me! Even on one of the hottest days of the year (+38 C) it held up beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with the foodie world.
i loved it
The time estimates at the top are really misleading as you don’t include the set time for the custard until you get there in the recipe. It was a fun surprise an hour before I had to leave that you recommend letting it “Chill until cold, a few hours or up to 2 days”. I used the freezer and am just hoping it all turns out fine (I think it will).
Recipe is great, made a small tweak to add a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves for a nice almost christmas-y kick.
I’ve made this twice. It’s such an elegant dessert. I would like to make a version where I add lemon juice to the custard. Any suggestions as to amount and at what point I should add it?
Hi Susan, glad you like it! Instead of using lemon juice, I’d suggest up to a teaspoon of very finely grated lemon zest. (I’d add it right as you’re finishing cooking the custard.)
The fruit tart was amazing! I’d like to make mini 3” fruit tarts. How many will the recipe make? How long should they long and what temperature should be baked?
Hi Michele, so glad you enjoyed the tart! I honestly don’t know how many 3 inch versions you can make from these ingredients. The bake time should be about 20 minutes for the crust and the temperature can remain the same. Please LMK how they turn out if you make minis!
Thanks for another delicious recipe! All your recipes are just great!
Great recipe. One enhancement I made was adding a chocolate coating the inside of the crust before assembling the tart. Just grabbed a bag of dipping chocolates and brushed it on. Not only does it add to the flavor, it keeps the crust from absorbing the moisture from the custard.
Hi, thank you for the recipe, it was yummy! Definitely will do it again.
I just have 2 issues: 1) the cream was quite runny, I did use whole full cream milk. I used superfine caster sugar. Can I ask, for the sugar used for the cream, is it caster sugar or icing sugar? I saw other recipes using icing sugar (which has corn flour in it) so I am wondering is that why my cream was runny? Because it has no cornflour in the sugar as compared to the icing sugar? Cornflour will help to thicken and set the cream correct?
2) my tart cracked… any idea why?
Many thanks 🙂
Hi Joey, I’m sorry about the delayed response. Glad to hear you enjoyed the tart despite a few issues. I strongly suspect that the texture of the cream was as a result of the sugar that you used. Granulated sugar is definitely best for this. And regarding the tart cracking, it may have been that you didn’t get the dough pressed down thoroughly enough in the pan. Another possibility that may have contributed to it is, again, the kind of sugar that you used. Hope that helps!
Hi Jenn! Thank you for another fantastic recipe. Everything turned out perfectly except when I brushed on the apricot glaze. It never really set. Any ideas? Maybe I shouldn’t have added the water? I’d like to make this again but would like to resolve this one small issue. (Still got rave reviews in spite of the runny glaze. 😉)
Hi Vicky, the glaze doesn’t really set (it just gives the fruit a nice sheen). You could try eliminating the water or reducing the water you add to 1/2 tablespoon. Hope that helps!
My 9 yr old daughter and I made this as our first Caribbean baking adventure on our new Catamaran. We didn’t pack our mixer so we used our hands to mix everything . Thankfully the ingredients are simple and the fruit is bakers choice . We didn’t have a tart pan so we used a rectangle pan that came with the boat . It worked perfectly . We shared with our new neighbors and friends . It did not last long and was so pretty !!!!
You said to buy a 10 inch pan but when I clicked the link it takes me to a 9.5 inch pan. Now I’m not sure if I should buy the 9.5 inch pan or if the 10 was sold out and is not showing up.
Hi Wendi, Sorry for any confusion. Either size will work beautifully. Hope you enjoy!
Thanks! I’m excited to try making it. It looks so pretty!
Oh my God – this is a showstopper dessert! I didn’t find the recipe overwhelming in the least – just think of it as 3 steps. I made the custard in the afternoon and put it in the refrigerator. After dinner, I made the pate sucre and baked it, leaving it out overnight. About 3 hours before serving, I cleaned and dried the fruit and assembled it. Gorgeous!
I made this in a rectangular tart pan as that is what I had. I did not alter the recipe quantity and it was fine. I baked it for 20 minutes. I decorated the tart with peeled, fresh peaches placed on a diagonal and flanked by sliced strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. One tip is to make sure the nonstick spray reaches the corners of the tart pan. If you are using a round pan, then this is not necessary.
Happy Bastille Day!
Your summer recipes have gotten rave reviews in our home! Can I use a regular springform pan instead of a tart pan?
Glad the recipes have been a hit! Yes, a springform pan should work here. Please LMK how it turns out!
Thank you for the recipe. The pate sucre was delicious and the tart looked impressive. My family it it all in one shot. I’m making this again but have a question please. I have small tart tins 2.5 inches. How long should I bake the mini tarts? Thx!
Hi Nadine, Glad the tart was a hit! For small tart pans, I’d guesstimate the dough would need about 18 to 20 minutes, but keep a close eye on them. Please let me know how the minis turn out!
I was inspired to make this tart for the 4th and it was one of the prettiest and most delicious desserts I’ve ever made. New fave!!
Thank you for the recipe. I had a little problem with the timing when I baked the crust. I put it in for 23 minutes, but it turned out a little overcooked and therefore hard and brittle, but still delicious!! I think it might have been because I used an 11 inch pan instead of a 10 inch and therefore was thinner than it was supposed to be. The custard turned out perfectly delicious 😋.
So glad you enjoyed it, Carolina! Yes, the larger pan would make it cook faster.
Hi Jenn, I commented on the crust recipe and ended up leaving the baked crust out on the countertop overnight to cool. It turned out beautifully! We completed the tart today and it is absolutely delicious and a showstopper! Rave reviews from my family and our guests. The filling was a little runny when we sliced it- wondering if I didn’t thicken it enough? Let me know if you have any advice regarding thickness and how to make sure it’s ready. I tried my best to follow your directions and timing. Thank you- awesome recipe!
So glad you enjoyed it, Jo! Were your berries fully dry? Any moisture in the fruit can cause the pastry cream to become a bit runny.
Hmm..we did try our best to dry them. We washed them and let them sit on towels to fully drain.
Hi Jo, did you use whole milk for the custard?
Yes I did. I’ll try it again for my father’s birthday in a couple of weeks and see if I can improve it! Thank you!
The filling was runny . Any suggestions . I did not put fruit on yet and it doesn’t seem to be firm enough to slice
Hi Kim, Did you use whole milk? (That’s really important.) If it has a pudding-like texture, that’s correct and you should be able to slice it once it’s chilled.
My custard took longer than two minutes….next time just keep whisking till the mixture looks like pudding….it will firm up!
I’d love to make this pie for 4th of July, but I have one issue. My pie dish is 11 x 1.125in, just slightly larger. Do you think the pastry would be enough or would be it stretched out too thin? Would the creme patisserie be enough as well? Thank you!
Hi Bianca, I think you’ll be a little short. I would multiply the recipes by 1.5, although you may have some extra. Please LMK how it turns out!
For what it’s worth, I used an 11 inch tart pan with your exact recipe and the crust definitely didn’t reach to the top of the pan. It wasn’t as “perfect” or neat looking if a crust…but it was still delicious and structurally sound. Great recipe!
I love this recipe!!!
My 10 year old daughter enjoyed making this!!!!!