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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.

Classic French Fruit Tart

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. 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 (see below), 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!

concentric circles of fruit with kiwi rose in center

What You’ll Need To Make A Classic French Fruit Tart

french fruit tart ingredients

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-by-Step Instructions

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.

golden brown tart crust

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.

simmering milk

Add the sugar, egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch to a heat-proof mixing bowl.

eggs, cornstarch and sugar in bowl

Whisk until the mixture is very smooth and has lightened in color, about 2 minutes.

pale and creamy egg mixture

Whisking constantly, add about a quarter of the hot milk into the egg mixture.

tempering

Pour the milk-tempered egg mixture into the pot of the remaining milk. Whisk to combine.

whisking pastry cream in saucepan

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.

stirring butter and vanilla into thickening pastry cream

Cook one minute more, whisking constantly. The pastry cream should make thick, lazy bubbles.

thickened pastry cream

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.

pastry cream covered with plastic wrap

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.

pastry cream in tart shell

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.

arranging berries in freeform fashion

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.

fruit tart with kiwi rose

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.

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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.

Servings: 10
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus a few hours to prepare, chill, bake, and cool the pâte sucrée (sweet tart dough) and the pastry cream

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Make the Crust: Complete the pâte sucrée through baking and cooling.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Note: If you see any coagulated egg bits in your finished custard, strain the hot pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer.
  6. 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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Comments

  • Why there is no recipe for the creme? It looks so good, but I need to know cups/grams to make it.

    • — raviolechka on February 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions above. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, to the right of the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on February 13, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thank you! I looked very carefully and everything is here! I am finishing to make it know and it is coming great!

        • — raviolechka on February 13, 2024
        • Reply
    • Best tart I have ever made. I doubled recipe for 14″ tart pan and it turned out perfect. Crust was so flaky and buttery.

      • — Janice Rogers on February 19, 2024
      • Reply
  • I love to bake and I have been baking for over 40 years but I think this is the best dessert that I have ever made! It tastes just like the tarts that I had in France. It might look complicated but it’s not; even a novice baker could make this impressive tart. Just take your time and follow Jenn’s excellent instructions.

    • — Elise on February 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • What are measurements for crust

    • — Jane on February 10, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, you can find the recipe/ingredients for the crust here. Hope you enjoy the tart!

      • — Jenn on February 12, 2024
      • Reply
  • I made this tart for a family luncheon. I did the mixed berry design. Everyone thought it was stunning. I made it a day ahead and put it in the frig. When I cut it the next day at lunch, my pastry was completely soggy and fell apart. It tasted amazing, but was not the presentation I was hoping for. Any idea on why the pastry did not hold together? I am an experienced cook and baker and followed the recipe exactly.

    • — Yvonne P Fanning on January 23, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Yvonne, I’m sorry you had a problem with this! From what you described, it sounds like the custard wasn’t thick enough. If you make this again, I’d cook the custard a bit longer.

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thank you! I will definitely make it again and make sure to get the custard thicker. My family loved it anyway. Hubby just put it in a bowl and went to town!

        • — Yvonne P Fanning on January 23, 2024
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    This fruit tart was absolute perfection. As I mentioned in a different comment, I tend to lean towards confections that are lower in sugar (taste preference, not calorie conscious). I literally ate a slice of this pie every day with my morning coffee until it was gone, and every day I said out loud “this is so freaking good.” I can’t wait to make several of these and spoil my extended family for Christmas!

    Thank you!
    Melissa

    • — Melissa on November 11, 2023
    • Reply

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