Episode Two: Simple Fruit Tart
proving "anyone" can bake, PLUS: last call for merch
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Welcome to EPISODE TWO: A Simple Fruit Tart (Anyone Can Bake) ((Michael’s Version)).
If you haven’t heard, it’s SWEET ENOUGH month here on Home Movies. While the book isn’t out for another 21 days (but who’s counting), we are bringing you recipes and LESSONS (learning is cool) from the book while we all wait for our copies to arrive.
I spend much of the book trying convince people that they can bake. Yes, you, yes, the person reading this wishing it were a pasta recipe, yes, the person who doesn’t really think of themselves as a person who would ever eat a tart much less make one, and yes, you, Michael Wooten, who really and truly and deeply: Can not bake. YOU! You can bake.
And babe: YOU DID!
[ALSO: ITS THE LAST DAY TO ORDER MERCHANDISE! I WILL NOT BE BRINGING MERCHANDISE ON TOUR THIS SPRING BECAUSE I ALREADY STRUGGLE WITH EFFICIENT PACKING AND PUTTING ME IN CHARGE OF SOMETHING LIKE THAT IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN. ORDER HERE.]
Because this is a SHOW, and we must suspend BELIEF of the EVERY DAY, I of course did not pick the easiest recipe (what’s the fun in that), but I did pick what I consider a good all-purpose, extremely versatile, very flexible “feel free to make-it-your-own” recipe that belongs in all of our repertoires.
A simple press-in shortbread crust (fill it with whatever you want) and a gorgeous, silky smooth vanilla pastry cream, something you should know to make because with it comes:
-regular pudding, no additions, just a spoon (wow, perfect dessert already)
-something to layer with fruit and shortcakes for a large format shareable dessert
-the filling for a gorgeous and simple fruit tart (any fruit you like, go ahead, try it)
-fillings for things like Eclairs, but you won’t find a recipe for those in this book
Anyway, we all learn something this episode (me about the catchphrases of The Real Housewives franchise and learning how to let go, Michael about “whisking,”) and we hope you do, too.
Simple Fruit Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart
I love this basic, elegant, classy tart. It’s reserved and restrained, it’s prim and proper, it’s creamy and delicious. It’s also one of the more flexible desserts in this book, and if you’re the type of baker who loves to arrange your fruit like a gorgeous mosaic, well, this recipe is for you. Three distinct components, comprising an easy shortbread-like press-in crust, silky vanilla custard, and whatever fruit strikes you as most lovely when it comes time to makes this tart. Since the crust and custard already give you something so fantastic, whatever you choose to top it with is truly a cherry on top, no pun intended (unless you’re using cherries, then definitely pun intended).
For the Crust:
1⅓ cups/200g all-purpose flour
⅔ cup/80g powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons/6g kosher salt
1½ sticks/6 ounces/170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Vanilla Pastry Cream, cooled
½ pound/225g assorted fresh red fruits (raspberries, strawberries, currants, boysenberries), halved or sliced according to shape and size, OR any assortment of delicious, roasted fruits
1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, incorporate the melted butter until you’ve got a crumbly, Play-Doh-like textured dough. Resist the urge to knead the dough, as you don’t want to develop any gluten (that’s how the crust shrinks on you).
3. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch springform pan and use the tines of a fork or the tip of a knife to lightly prick the top all over (to allow steam to escape as it bakes).
4. Bake until the bottom of the crust is golden brown, and the edges are the color of a nicely golden shortbread cookie, 18–20 minutes (this tart does not get baked again, so this is your chance to fully bake through). Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
5. Assemble the tart: Once the tart shell is cooled, whisk the vanilla pastry cream until it’s totally smooth (it will look firm, lumpy, and cottage cheese-like until it smooths out and comes together, looking like the gorgeous, smooth pudding it once was). Spread this into the tart shell.
6. Top with fruit of your choosing, but for the simplest version, use lovely, uncooked berries, preferably all from the same color family. Strawberries thinly sliced crosswise to expose their circular core, raspberries either left whole or cut in half, red currants if you can find them, you get the idea.
7. Refrigerate for 1 hour or so to set and chill before slicing.
DO AHEAD: The shortbread crust can be baked 2 days ahead, stored wrapped at room temperature. The tart itself can be made 2 days ahead but can get a little soggy after that. Store it wrapped and refrigerated. Serve chilled.
EAT WITH: A hunk of salty cheese and sliced cured meats on a lovely little picnic.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
Makes about 5 cups*
*This makes enough for 6-8 people as its own special dessert or to assemble a casual trifle or to fill a tart
We tend to take the simplest things for granted, or think of them as boring. “But what ELSE is there?” you might ask when presented with the option of eating a bowl of perfect vanilla pudding. We’re constantly looking for MORE and DIFFERENT, and might forget that milk and cream sweetened with a bit of sugar, flavored with vanilla, enriched with egg yolks, thickened with cornstarch, and set with a healthy knob of butter is as close to paradise on this wild planet as you can get. Traditionally used to fill things (tarts, éclairs, etc.), pastry cream is always billed as a means to an end, but for me, this thick, velvety vanilla custard is the end. That’s it, that’s the dessert, perfect as is.
4 cups/945g whole milk
1 cup/220g sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1½ teaspoons/7g vanilla extract
8 large egg yolks
½ cup/65g cornstarch
1 teaspoon/4g kosher salt
4 tablespoons/2 ounces/60g unsalted butter
1. In a medium pot, combine the milk and ½ cup/110g of the sugar. If using the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the milk and add the pod, too (if using vanilla extract, it goes in later). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, but do not let it boil. Once simmering, remove from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the remaining ½ cup/110g sugar with the egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla extract (if using), and salt.
3. Slowly pour a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while whisking and whisk to blend. Do this until all the milk has been incorporated. The mixture will be loose with a starchy texture.
4. Return this mixture to the pot and place over medium heat. Whisk constantly, cooking until the liquid goes from thin with many small bubbles, almost like a cappuccino, to thick and gelatinous with sporadic large bubbles, bubbling from the great depths of the pot, 8–10 minutes. The mixture will have gone from soupy liquid to golden pudding faster than you think. Magic! Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.
5. Transfer the pudding to a shallow baking dish or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on top (to prevent the “skin”). Place in the fridge and chill completely until ready to use.
6. When ready to serve or use, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk until it goes from thick and rubbery to creamy, luscious, and smooth.
DO AHEAD: Vanilla pastry cream is proudly sturdy and can stay in your fridge, covered tightly, for up to 5 days.
USE FOR: To serve as perfect pudding, pour it into serving glasses, cups, coupes, bowls, whatever you fancy. Top with whipped cream or leave as is. After all, it is perfect. Or use it to build a casual trifle or fill a tart. Or spread onto cake, fill éclairs or cream puffs, or fold with whipped cream to make it lighter. And it’s perfectly delicious used as a layer in a tiramisu.