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Seasonal Fruit Tarts that hold their shape


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cool: Hello fellow passionate pastry pals! I am a newbie to the gullet or atleast to 'posting'. I have been perusing and learning and 'hmmm'ing over others' postings for the past month or so. Thankyou all for some great tips and recipes!

I am hoping someone can help me out with a challenge I am having at work. I am in need of ideas/suggestions /recipes for a seasonal fruit tart that will hold it's shape when baked, portioned and reheated for service.

Last year, at the restaurant where I work, we did individual tart(lets): seasonal fruit tossed with cornstarch, sugar, zest, baked in a pie dough shell and topped with a streusal. They held up well and tasted great. Customers loved them. However, the restaurant has changed its concept just recently and in the dessert department that translates to whole pies/cakes/desserts portioned. I've been doing a seasonal fruit crostada/torta(free form tart) using puff pastry(scraps) and the fruit/cornstarch/sugar/zest combo topped with streusal. Sometimes I cook the fruit out a little before baking sometimes I just toss the mixture and bake it as is. However, the presentation/portion size is inconsistant as some fruit mixtures spread out more/are more juicy. Thus, the chef has asked me to come up with a Fruit Tart that holds its shape, isn't juicy and doesn't have fruit falling out of it.

I was thinking of using a pate brisee dough for the shell. I'm reluctant to use a lot of cornstarch and overcook the fruit...it reminds me of tinned pie filling...yuck! And I'm not keen about the uncooked fruit covered in gelatin glaze concept(which wouldn't reheat anyway)But I am stumped! If anyone has can help, please do!!!

D

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Just off the top of my head, I'm wondering if you've thought of doing a custard-type pie with fruit baked in it? Like a claufouti? Many different types of fruit - fresh, frozen and canned - can work well in this type of filling.

Oh, and welcome to eGullet! :smile:

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We do a lot of fruit tarts made with sweet short paste filled with frangipane and fresh fruit. They hold their shape very well, reheat well, can be made with any fruit, and taste fantastic. Just a thought...

Hope this helps.

Dan

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I ditto both the previous suggestions and add: Just as a reference, in "Simply Sensational Desserts" by Francois Payard he has several quick and beautiful fruit tarts that are based on the sweet tart shell with a almond cream filling. I've made all of the ones in this particular book and they all hold up well and slice like a dream. If you have a chance it's definately worth finding this book in your library or book store.

I'm not sure if my following suggestions fit into your guidelines or not. Sometime guidelines are flexiable....

Making individual puff pastry shells is not time consuming nor expensive. You can bake off your tarts seperate, hollow out the center then use any fruit filling or combo you can dream of. They'll reheat fine and or depending on your fruit don't need to be served warm.

You can make them into turnovers in shape, so their neat.

You can also make a cheesecake tart and place your fruit on that base or depending upon the fruit bake it into the batter. Following that example you can do this with several well known tart/pie fillings, like lemon or key lime. Use them as your base and add your fruit to them, they'll slice easily (can't use very wet fruits though).

The almond cream or frangipane filling can also be changed by using extracts and emulsions. For example in Bellouets mini pastry book, he adds a coffee extract to his frangipane and it's a nice and diffferent approach. You could also add pistachio paste to your frangipane for an nice flavor variation.

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Thank you for the suggestions! Unfortunately, for some reason my Chef dislikes almond cream/frangipane tarts(personally, I love to make and love to eat them!) so that ix-nays(sp) that idea...ofcourse unless I can change his mind with some fabulous recipe... I have a copy of Payard's book at home; so I'll take a look. And I like the clafouti idea. Also, today I tried adding instant tapioca...with a little better results. I wish I could do individual rustic fruit tartlets because they were really good, really easy and ooziness wasn't an issue.

It's my Friday today, and the Chef's not in till Tuesday so I'll experiment next week with these ideas and see what he says.

Wendy, how do you hollow out puff pastry tart shells and fill them? Are they shaped like vol-au-vent? I think I'm missing part of the picture.

Thanks again :biggrin: ,

D

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I start with a square and then fold it in half into a triangle, cutting slits paralle to the edge of the triangle, about 1/8" or 1/4" in from the edge. But you leave the ends attached. Then you cross over sides or flip flop them so they sit on top of the solid square..... and it gives you a quick box or diamond shape. I could probably draw that on paper and photo it, if you didn't follow. But this is shown in most school pastry books....so you might be familar.

In the end it's pretty much the same as a vol au vent where your left with a shell to fill, I just find this quicker and less formal, less waste too. You can buy pp cut into squares already, if you really need to save time. For that matter, you could just weigh down some pp pressed into a shell shape and have a more rustic vessel to fill.

Typically I use this method to mass produce fruit tarts, served cold. I fill it with pastry cream, whipped cream and tons of fresh fruit....and serve with any fruit sauce or even a chocolate sauce.

Many non pastry chefs I know, make this version: take an individual size piece of pp, add a dollop of pastry cream, put apple slices or pear slices on and bake. I prefer to serve those warm and I also often add either a cinnamon sugar sprinkle or struesel...but more so in the winter then summer. So easy and quick you can really mass produce these.

I've also make individual tarts using a cut out of pie crust, prebake it flat most of the way. Pull it out, while warm top it with pastry cream and any fruit. Plums, apricots and similar work well this way. Some fruits need sugar some don't, bake as long as the fruit needs or doesn't need. Serve hot or cold. You could techniquely do this with a wide vartiety of doughs too.

In place of the frangipane, you could use a pastry cream in a whole tart/pie. Also fruit curds....

Sometimes if you explain to your chef that something is easier or cheaper to produce they might change their minds, so good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you all for your suggestions and ideas. However, I had to come up with whole pies/tarts to be cut into individual portions( a new mandate for the restaurant) and the chef wanted Fruit/Berries only. So, I made two fruit tarts for the chef: an open faced one that held its shape(I used tapioca and stewed the rhubarb and strawberries first before mixing with apple); and I remade a version of the free form tart but held within the conforms of a removeable bottom tart pan also with tapioca. The chef said the first tapioca pie was too 'gelatinous'(go figure...he's the one that suggested I try putting gelatin in the pie) and he approved the second 'remake' of the free form with tapioca but wanted it with less streusal. As far as I know, tapioca must be baked 'inside' and shouldn't be directly exposed. I can't remember where I read that...but I read it some where. So, I've gone back to the original with slight alterations as per a recipe I found in RSB's "Pie and Tart Bible": I toss the fruit/berries with sugar; strain the juices that have accumulated after 10 minutes or so; add butter to the juices and reduce by half; toss the fruit/berries with cornstarch add the reduced juices; spoon the mixture(with as little of the liquid juices as possible) into the unbaked crust; fold over the pastry(so it's sort of like a crostada); eggwash the top and then bake the tart(topping with a hand full of streusal half way through). At first I was letting the filled tart rest for a half hour or more in the fridge before baking but this proved to produce a soggy underbaked bottom of the tart. Each time I make the tarts I never really know if it's going to work or how its going to turn out as different fruit/berries with different water contents, diferrent ripeness etc., produce a different filling. It's been a little bit frustrating to say the least...and my confidence too is a little frazzled. Is it normal to go through such growing pains when creating a new dessert item? I have created new desserts in the past but I created them as to what I wanted to create..ie., from a recipe or idea that inspired me...or from my own vision. But trying to create a dessert for someone who is not a baker/pastry person and only knows what they want(or think they know what they want and their idea seems to keep changing) combined with my rookie skills(I've only been doing this professionally for two and a half years)has proven an unsettling challenge. Anyway, I just want to thank everybody for their help and let you guys know where I went with my tart dilemmna and how it has turned out thus far.

By the by, this forum is so great I wish I had found it earlier!!!

D.

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o.k. if I'm understanding this, it seems to really come down to doing exactly what you mentioned in your first post. It seems that the real problem is getting consistant thickening to meet his requests: a sliced piece of pie that holds it's shape and doesn't leak out filling or juices.

You have to make some compromises here in order to please him. He clearly doesn't want anything but the basic fruit in a crust, so our suggestions of fillings that stablize fruits isn't helpful. So what he's saying is- consistant. What your struggling with is getting consistant results and giving him exactly what he wants.

You have to thicken your fruit with more cornstarch then you like-because that's what he wants. Buy your fruit consistantly, as in; alway buy in frozen berries or always use fresh-so you don't have to adjust your recipe daily. Do a couple of trials to see how much cornstarch it needs to gell to his desires.

You can also use purchased pie fillings and use them as a stablizer with your fresh fruit recipe and skip the cornstarch. For example I know of an apple pie recipe that works consistantly this way. They use half apple pie filling, add some flour, brown sugar and cinnamon stir together, then add half weight of frozen apple slices. The pie filling has ALOT of thickening in it.

Your chef really isn't asking for a fresh tart/pie. He wants the filling to be like what you get from those buckets of fruit fillings or frozen pies. Perhaps he's not really seeing the whole picture-it's sort of a waste of money to have you imitate a frozen mass produced product because you can't do it as consistantly and cheaply as he can buy in. He really sort of needs to deside what he wants and understand that each is different..........If you can't get him to understand this and make a desision and you want to keep your position then you might want to try using those buckets of pie filling and just adding to them to make them closer to homemade.

Don't feel insecure, he's not really making a good desision...he really wants you to imitate a frozen product and not a fresh pie/tart.

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Pate Brisse is a good choice for your dough, and waxy maize is a better choice than corn starch (IMO) for a thickener because it holds it's texture both hot and cold where cornstarch will thin out when chilled as it's proteins won't bond as well in cool temperature's and it will thin out.

Edited by Brad S (log)

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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