We have entered the longest, laziest days of summer. The Sun is high, the cicadas are singing, and summer fruits are at their fragrant and juicy best. One of my favourite desserts to make at this time of year is a simple Nectarine Tart topped with fresh, ripe fruit.
What sort of tart is this?
This is a fruit tart in the French style, with a base of sweet pastry or pâte sablée. The filling is made from lusciously silky pastry cream or creme patisserie, while the topping is made from sweet sliced nectarines.
Finished off with a light glaze, this tart looks like it belongs in the window of a fancy bakery, however, this is a simple dessert to make it home.
To make my nectarine tart, you don’t need any fancy ingredients, just pantry staples:
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter in baking as that way I can control the amount of salt in the final product.
- Flour: Plain or all-purpose flour are both suitable.
- Sugar: for sweetness and structure
- Vanilla: If you’re cooking for a special occasion, splurge on vanilla pods, otherwise use a good quality vanilla extract.
- Eggs: I use European size M eggs, which weigh around 63g each.
- Cornstarch: This is used to thicken the vanilla pastry cream
- Fresh Nectarines: Make sure you choose fresh, fragrant nectarines that are beautifully ripe. You can use all sorts of soft summer fruits instead, berries, kiwis or grapes are all tasty.
- Tart glaze: This is optional, but it’s nice to brush the nectarines with a little glaze. I use a little melted apricot jam.
How to make a Nectarine Tart
- First, you’ll need to make my simple sweet pastry. This is just a matter of stirring the ingredients together and then pressing them into a tart pan with a removable base. No rolling out or food processor required! The pastry needs to be chilled (best in the freezer) for 1 hour.
- While the pastry is chilling, the next step is to make the pastry cream or creme patisserie.
- First, beat the eggs sugar vanilla and cornstarch together in a bowl, until you have a smooth paste. Next, heat the milk in a small saucepan until nearly boiling.
- While whisking, pour the hot milk in a thin stream onto the egg mixture. This is called tempering and will prevent the egg from scrambling.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, whisking all the while, for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture has thickened and begun to boil. Continue cooking and whisking for one more minute, then remove from the heat and heat in softened butter.
- Pour immediately into a bowl, and press clingfilm directly on the surface. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until completely cold.
- While the pastry cream is chilling, you can bake the pastry case. Heat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Remove the pastry case from the freezer, line with a layer of baking paper and a layer of aluminium foil, and then bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the paper and foil and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allowed it to cool completely.
- Lastly, you simply need to assemble the tart. Take the pastry cream from the fridge, stir until smooth, and then pour it into the pastry case. Top with the sliced fruit, finish with a little glaze and chill until ready to serve.
How to fix cracked pastry
Occasionally pastry can crack while it is baking. Don’t worry, as there is a simple fix! To fix cracked pastry, make a thin paste out of 1 Tbsp of plain flour and 2-3 Tbsp of milk.
Gently brush this paste over the cracks in the pastry and return to the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make this tart with other fruit?
Yes, all soft summer fruits and stone fruit are perfect for this style of fruit tart.
Can I make this tart in advance?
Both the pastry cream and pastry case can be made in advance, the fruit topping is best added on the same day that you are planning to eat it as the cut fruit can discolour or leak juices over time.
If you need the tart to sit around for a while, you’re best using whole fruits like raspberries instead.
What can I do with leftover Pastry Cream?
Pastry cream keeps for several days in the fridge and can be frozen. It’s great as a cake filling or can be thinned and used as a normal custard. Frankly, it’s so tasty I often just keep it as a cook’s treat!
Nectarine Tart Recipe
for the pastry:
- 100g (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50g (4 Tbsp) white sugar
- 1 medium egg
- pinch of sea salt
- 200g (1 + ¼ cups) plain or all-purpose flour
for the pastry cream:
- 100g (½ cup) white sugar
- 40g (¼ cup) cornstarch
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla pod
- 500 ml (2 cups) of whole milk
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
for the fruit topping:
- 6 large, ripe nectarines
- 2 Tbsp apricot jam, heated until melted
- PREPARE THE PASTRY: In the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, egg and salt until smooth. Sift over the flour and stir until you have a soft and crumbly dough. If the mixture is extremely wet add 1-2 tablespoons of flour.
- MAKE THE PASTRY CASE: Crumble the dough into the base of a lightly greased, long rectangular tart pan (34x12cm / 14”x5.75”). Press dough evenly over the base and sides, prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, and then chill or freeze for at least half an hour.
- MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, and cornstarch together. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk well. Heat the milk until nearly simmering, then pour in a thin stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
- THICKEN THE PASTRY CREAM: Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. This should take around 3 minutes. Keep whisking while the mixture boils for one minute (use a timer), then remove from the heat and pour back into the bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill.
- BAKE THE TART CASE: Heat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Remove tart shell from the freezer, line with a layer of baking parchment paper and a layer of aluminium foil. Place the tart pan on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, carefully remove the paper and foil and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- ASSEMBLE: When you are ready to assemble the tart, stir the pastry cream until smooth and pour it into the cooled tart case. Leave a gap at the top of at least 1cm (⅓ inch) for the fruit. Top with nectarine slices and brush with a little melted apricot jam to glaze the tart. Chill for at least 1 hour.
- PRO TIP: For a beautiful ombre effect, start with the darkest slices of nectarine and work your way forward to the lightest.
I like to use a long rectangular tart tin with a removable bottom like the one below, but this amount of pastry and filling will work in an approx 23cm round tart pan too.
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