My 29th birthday was memorably depressing. I was soothing a boyfriend break-up, and my office “forgot” me. All day I waited for a cake that never came. Living in California with no family around left me at home by myself on a rainy night eating a Lean Cuisine. There was so much wrong with this picture. Although I had much to celebrate and was really doing quite well in life (as life goes), I still fell into the birthday pit.
But Spinach Tiger is called “Tiger” for a reason and I vowed to never let this happen again. When I turned 30, I threw my own party, made my own food, ordered my own cake, and never again returned to the birthday pit.
But, it didn’t end there. I have taken stock in all birthdays. If you are my friend, I will bake you a birthday cake, throw you a party, and cook you a dinner. It’s what I do because I believe a life is worth celebrating and everyone has value.
I will make you a berry tart of your choice.
And, it’s fun. It involves favorite foods and favorite cocktails. And, it’s good medicine. All your troubles go away on your birthday.
A while back we celebrated a friend’s birthday with this delicious tart. I used fresh berries.
The Berry Tart Process
The pastry cream was made in an unusual way, and it got thick really fast. But, it was delicious and it holds all this fruit without the crust ever getting soggy. The pastry crust is like a shortbread, perfectly sweet and sandy. There is a temptation to bake it past 25 minutes. Don’t.
Ingredients matter. This tart is all about the fruit. Only use the best pick of the season. I used blueberries that were picked on Wednesday and they were super sweet on their own. The finishing touch comes from a Bonne Maman four-fruit preserve, but you could use any high quality jelly or jam to brush the fruit.
If you want to make a no pastry cream tart, try this strawberry tart.
If you want to make a Raspberry Tart, try this.
If you want to make a blackberry tart, try this.
If you want to make a gluten free mascarpone blueberry tart, try this.
- One Tart Shell (recipe below)
- 2 pints blueberry
- 1 pint strawberries
- ¼ cup jam or preserves (I used four fruit berry preserve; you can use berry or apricot)
- handful lime basil, finely chopped
- Pastry cream (recipe below)
- Small handful of lime basil, torn into pieces
- !Pastry Crust:
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- covered. Once frozen, wrap in foil.
- Pastry Cream Ingredients
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 7 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup corn starch
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 3½ tablespoons butter
- TART SHELL
- Butter a tart pan that has a removable bottom.
- Pulse flour, sugar, salt in food processor for a few seconds. Add butter. Mix for about 30 seconds to one minute (it will look like coarse oatmeal). Add egg yolk. Pulse for 20 seconds. Dump onto counter. Bring together, making sure all ingredients are incorporated. Press into tart pan. Freeze uncovered. Once frozen, wrap in foil.
- To Bake: Bake at 375. Butter shiny side of foil. Place that side onto pastry. Bake frozen for 25 minutes. No need for pie weights.
- Get out a small and a medium sized sauce pan.
- In small sauce pan, boil milk. Remove from heat.
- In large sauce pan, mix egg yolks, sugar and corn starch. Incorporate on low heat, adding in ¼ cup of hot milk. Continue whisking (an electric beater with a whisk wand works like a charm), and gradually add in remaining milk, boiling mixture for one minute. Immediately remove from heat.. Add in vanilla. Allow to sit for five minutes.
- Add butter. Cool completely, before assembling.
- Wash and rinse fruit well, removing all stems. Dry fruit.If blackberries are very tart, add 1 - 2 tablespoons of sugar and allow to sit for an hour at room temperature. Add raspberries at very end, as they are more delicate.
- Spread pastry cream onto tart crust.
- Top with berries of your choice. Heat preserves or jam with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush fruit with pastry brush. Refrigerate. You can make this one day ahead. I like to make the cream and the tart crust the day before and assemble a few hours before serving.
- Top with lime basil.