This Mixed Berry Tart, made with a sweet French pastry crust and rich lemon pastry cream, was developed in partnership with California Giant Berry Farms. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that Labor Day weekend is only a week away! Where did this summer go?
I, for one, am holding onto warm weather recipes for as long as I can. Before we trade in shorts and sandals for cozy sweaters and boots, I’m planning on a Labor Day weekend filled with a solidly summer menu.
There are few summer desserts I love more during than a fresh fruit tart. There’s nothing like biting into a forkful of crisp French pastry crust, with indulgent pastry cream and sweet, juicy berries.
A mixed berry tart makes an incredibly impressive appearance on any dessert table, and all of the components can be made ahead of time. In fact, for the best texture, it’s preferable to assemble the tart just before you’re ready to serve. It’s a great option for easy and elegant entertaining.
Lemon Pastry Cream
Crème Pâtissière is, essentially, custard that has been thickened with flour or cornstarch (and, in some recipes, both). It’s rich and indulgent, and is typically used in desserts such as fruit tarts and Napoleons (Mille-feuille).
I love adding a hint of lemon with berries, so I made a lemon pastry cream for this mixed berry tart. I used my standard creme patisserie recipe and added a touch of fresh lemon juice and zest after cooking. The lemon flavor brings a nice brightness to the pastry cream without becoming too tart or overpowering.
The pastry cream can be made entirely in advance. Simply store it in the refrigerator for up to two days before serving. Be sure to place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Pâte Sucrée: French Sweet Pastry Crust
Pâte sucrée (pronounced pat su-KRAY) is one of the three basic French shortcrust doughs (along with pâte brisée and pâte sablée). Unlike a flaky pie crust, pâte sucrée dough is more crumbly in texture. While it still has buttery layers, the crisp shell is more cookie-like and can better stand up to typical tart fillings, such as custards.
Pâte sucrée is made with egg yolks and a bit of heavy cream, which makes it wonderfully rich. When you roll it out, it might very well crack. This is okay! When you fit it into your tart shell, just press pieces of excess dough into any cracked or torn areas, and no one will be the wiser when it’s baked.
For this recipe, you’ll want to fully bake the crust before filling (“blind-baking”). Instructions for this can be found on my “Essentials” page, along with the recipe. The shell can be baked a day in advance of serving the mixed berry tart.
Lemon Cream Mixed Berry Tart
Lemon Pastry Cream
- 2 cups half and half
- 2/3 cups granulated sugar , divided
- pinch salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest , finely grated
- 1 recipe pâte sucrée (almond variation) , blind baked and cooled completely
- 1 cup California Giant Berry Farms strawberries , tops removed and sliced
- 1 cup California Giant Berry Farms blueberries
- 1/2 cup California Giant Berry Farms raspberries
- 1/2 cup apricot, apple, or red currant jelly
- 1 tablespoon water or Limoncello
Make the Lemon Pastry Cream
- Combine half and half, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat until bubbles form around the edges and wisps of steam rise from the pot. Remove from heat.
- While half and half mixture is heating, whisk together egg yolks, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl until a light yellow color.
- Slowly add about half of the hot half and half mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. ("Tempering" the eggs.) Whisk tempered eggs into the remaining half and half mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth. (Mixture will coat the back of a spoon.)
- Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and butter until smooth. Pass mixture through a mesh strainer into a bowl and discard any small egg solids. Stir in lemon zest.
- Cover pastry cream with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled.
Assemble the Tart
- Spoon chilled pastry cream into tart shell and spread to an even layer. Top with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
- In a small saucepan, heat jelly with water (if using), just until melted. Pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bits of fruit in the jelly. If using Limoncello instead of water, add it after straining.
- Lightly brush the berries with the glaze. Slice the tart into wedges and serve immediately.