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 pastry chef Lisa Kolb Ruland of Unpeeled, a cooking blog I read religiously because the writing, photography, and recipes are so inspiring. (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 10 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

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.

Here’s a more traditional design with concentric circles of fruit. So pretty!

concentric circles of fruit with kiwi rose in center

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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)

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pâte sucrée (sweet tart dough)
  • 2 cups whole milk (do not substitute low-fat or skim milk)
  • 1/2 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)
  • 1/4 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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Reviews & Comments

  • 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 !!!!

    • — Kristy K on July 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Wendi on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendi, Sorry for any confusion. Either size will work beautifully. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 16, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks! I’m excited to try making it. It looks so pretty!

        • — Wendi on July 16, 2021
        • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Margaret on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Your summer recipes have gotten rave reviews in our home! Can I use a regular springform pan instead of a tart pan?
    Thanks.

    • — Rachel on July 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad the recipes have been a hit! Yes, a springform pan should work here. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on July 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Nadine on July 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on July 13, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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!!

    • — Lynne on July 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    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 😋.

    • — Carolina Schindler on July 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it, Carolina! Yes, the larger pan would make it cook faster.

      • — Jenn on July 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Jo on July 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on July 4, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hmm..we did try our best to dry them. We washed them and let them sit on towels to fully drain.

        • — Jo on July 4, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Jo, did you use whole milk for the custard?

          • — Jenn on July 6, 2021
          • Reply
          • 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!

            • — Jo on July 8, 2021
        • The filling was runny . Any suggestions . I did not put fruit on yet and it doesn’t seem to be firm enough to slice

          • — Kim on July 10, 2021
          • Reply
          • 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.

            • — Jenn on July 12, 2021
  • Hi Jenn,
    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!

    • — Bianca on July 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on July 2, 2021
      • Reply
      • 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!

        • — Jo on July 3, 2021
        • Reply

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