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3 essential tips to make your fruit tarts a success

29 June 2020
The flagship dessert for summer tables is not as simple as it seems!

How do you combine a pastry that stays crisp with melting, juicy fruit? Relais Desserts’ pastry chefs share their techniques with you here, collected from Laurent Le Daniel, Éric Vergne, Marc Ducobu and the Maison Lenôtre (Jean-Christophe Jeanson and Guy Krenzer).

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section.  

1- The choice of ingredients

It seems obvious, but as it is essential, we’d like to stress that:

  • The fruits must be picked when it is ripe so that it has had time to develop its flavour and become full of sugar. If it's not ripe enough, it will remain too firm (even after cooking) and if it’s too ripe it will not hold together when cooked.
  • The pastry will be homemade with fresh ingredients. The pastry keeps very well in the freezer. Prepare several pieces of pastry in advance and use them as you need them.

2- Preparing the pastry

Here are several tips to prevent the pastry from shrinking during baking.

Don't work the pastry too hard. 

Wheat flour is rich in starch and kneading activates the elasticity of the starch. This allows the dough to be stretched, but like an elastic band, if stretched too much, it tends to want to return to its original shape and therefore shrink.

Put to one side.

Roll out the pastry - that is, place it in your tin so that it fits the shape, then leave it to rest overnight in a dry place. This allows the starch to stabilise and the dough to crust slightly on the surface which greatly reduces shrinkage.

Pre-bake. 

Start baking by lining the pie crust with soft paper and topped with cherry or mirabelle plum stones. When the edges are sufficiently cooked, remove the stones and the paper and continue cooking until slightly coloured.

As Laurent Le Daniel points out, this step is essential to ensure that the pastry is cooked properly. The pastry takes longer to cook than the filling, so it must be pre-baked before adding the fruit.

3- Filling

The ripe and juicy fruit will yield juice, especially during cooking. Here's how to keep your pastry crisp.

For raw fruit pies. 

The tart base has been baked and in order to prevent it from becoming soggy, Marc Ducobu advises you to brush it with a mixture of white chocolate and cocoa butter before adding the filling.

For baked fruit tarts: 

Cut the fruit the night before and leave it to drain overnight before putting it on the tart, so it has released its fluid.

In order to absorb the cooking juices, you have to add another ingredient on the tart base: almond powder, biscuit, according to your taste and preference. Maison Lenôtre recommends the following combinations: almond cream with red fruits, almond powder with fresh apricots, fine semolina for rhubarb or otherwise a biscuit.

Éric Vergne puts a thin layer of frangipane and especially a thin layer of biscuit powder on his pie bottoms. Raw fruit is arranged on top and baking can continue until it is done.

Take a look at our chefs’ summer pie recipes and feel free to share the photos of your creations by tagging @relaisdesserts_officiel on Instagram.

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