This French Strawberry Custard Tart combines a deliciously buttery Shortcrust Pastry, a Vanilla Pastry Cream filling and Fresh Strawberries. It is a great light summer dessert for parties or afternoon tea.
Why we love this recipe
This French Strawberry Custard Tart is probably one of my favourite Summer dessert, ever. It is so light and fresh, crunchy, creamy and bursting with berry flavours.
This Strawberry Cream Tart combines a deliciously buttery homemade Pâte Sablée (Shortcrust Pastry) and creamy Vanilla Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream). The Fresh Strawberries are basically... the cherry on top!
Just like its mini version Strawberry Custard Tartlets, it is a perfect dessert to serve at a party, outdoor gathering or to enjoy for afternoon tea.
Plus, all of the components of this tart can be made in advance them combined on the day!
For this strawberry custard tart, I used a crunchy, buttery and slightly flaky Pâte Sablée (or French Shortcrust Pastry) that works so well with a creamy custard filling. This classic French tart pastry is made from very basic ingredients:
- Dry Ingredients: Plain / AP Flour, Icing Sugar (or powdered sugar) and a little bit of Salt.
- Wet Ingredients: Unsalted Butter (very cold) and an Egg at room temperature.
You can also flavour the pastry of this strawberries and cream tart with many other ingredients if you want, like some Orange/Lemon Zest or Vanilla.
I used my Food Processor to make the Pastry, but it can absolutely be made by hands as well if preferred (see my pate sablee recipe for detailed instructions).
- Photo 1: Place the Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse to combine. Add the very cold Butter cut into small cubes.
- Photo 2: slowly pulse until you get very small crumbs (the largest the crumbs of butter, the flakier the pastry).
- Photo 3: Add the Egg (I like to whisk it in a separate bowl first so that it combines with the rest of the ingredients more easily).
- Photo 4: mix until a rough dough comes together, making sure not to over-work the pastry. If you press the crumbs together, they should stick.
- Photo 5: Bring the dough together into a large bowl then place between two sheets of baking paper. Roll into a large circle, about 4 mm - 1/8 inch thick then place in the fridge to chill and rest for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Photo 6: Line your Tart Ring (or tart pan) with the pastry. If the pastry is too hard and starts to crack, leave it a room temperature for a couple of minutes to allow for the butter to soften. Gently press the dough where the bottom meets the edges to create a 45' angle.
I used a 25cm / 10inch wide by 2cm / 0.75inch deep perforated tart ring but you should have enough pastry for a slightly wider and/or deeper tart pan if preferred.
- Photo 7: remove any excess pastry with a small pairing knife.
- Photo 8: dock the bottom of the pastry (poke with a fork) then place back in the fridge to chill and rest for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat your oven on 160'C/325'F and place the tart pastry in the freezer in the meantime. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fully baked and golden. Optionally, brush with an egg yolk (or white) halfway through the baking to seal the pastry. Set aside to cool down completely before filling.
Pastry Cream Filling
While the Strawberry Custard Tart crust is resting/chilling, you can start preparing the Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling.
- Photo 9: in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Sugar then add the Cornstarch.
- Photo 10: heat up the Milk and Vanilla in a small pot on low heat until it simmers. Pour it over the yolk/sugar while whisking to temper the eggs.
- Photo 11: pour it all back into the pot and cook on low heat for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. Make sure to keep on whisking to avoid burning the cream or getting lumps.
- Photo 12: when the cream starts to boil, whisk for an additional 30 seconds then remove from the stove.
- Transfer into a clean bowl or shallow pan, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream and place in the fridge to cool down completely (about 2 hours).
Assembling the Tart
Once your cream has cooled down and the tart crust is fully baked and cool, it is time to assemble the tart!
- Photo 13: transfer the cream inside the fully baked tart pastry. Spread it around using a small offset spatula. If the cream is quite stiff when you take it out the the fridge, loosen it with a whisk first.
- Photo 14: wash your strawberries, cut out the top/leaves and slice in half. Place them over the cream starting from the edges of the crust and making your way towards the centre. Slightly press the strawberries into the pastry cream to make them stick.
- Optional: finish this Strawberry Custard Tart with a few Mint Leaves, or sprinkle with Icing Sugar.
- Serve straight away or keep in the fridge before serving, preferably within 24 hours.
Tips for Success
- Use a rolling pin with thickness rings to get an even thickness all around the pastry.
- Rest/chill the pastry for as long as possible before baking it - it is the best way to get a tart crust that does not move, shrink or collapse in the oven.
- "Seal" the pastry by brushing an egg yolk (or egg white) over it halfway through its blind-baking. It will also give a golden colour to your pastry.
- For even more flavour, add some Lemon Zest to your Pastry and a few drops of Orange Blossom Water to the Cream.
- Make sure to dry the strawberries with some paper towels before adding them to the tart. This is to avoid them "leaking" over the cream and pastry, which will make it last longer and keep the pastry crispy.
- Don't overfill the crust with the pastry cream as it might overflow once you add your strawberries.
Storing & Freezing
The strawberry tart should be kept in the fridge but is best served straight away, or within two days. If needed, both the Tart Pastry and the Pastry Cream can be made in advance and assembled on the day.
The pastry can be kept unbaked in the fridge or fully baked at room temperature for 24 hours. The pastry cream can be made two days in advance and stored in the fridge.
I do not recommend freezing the finished strawberry custard tart, but the pastry can be frozen for up to 3 months (preferably unbaked for a better texture).
Absolutely, I personally love to make my own tart pastry but you can use a store-bought or frozen one instead if preferred. If you prefer a crispier pastry, you can also make my Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Shortcrust Pastry) instead of this Pâte Sablée.
Yes - the quantities of shortcrust pastry would be enough for a larger and/or deeper tart made using a regular tart pan instead of this 25cm / 10 inch tart ring. The perforated ring is a great utensil that will create a perfectly baked and golden crust all around, but it is not mandatory.
Once assembled, this strawberry tart is best served straight away but will last for 2 days in the fridge. Both the pastry and the cream can be made in advance then assembled on the day (see above for more details), which is a better option if you need to make it in advance.
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French Strawberry Custard Tart
Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Sablée)
- 250 gr (1 2/3 cups) Plain / AP Flour
- 50 gr (1/2 cup) Icing Sugar
- 1 pinch Salt
- 120 gr (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter - very cold
- 1 Egg - at room temperature
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 30 gr (2 1/2 tablesp.) Caster Sugar - or fine white granulated sugar
- 30 gr (1/4 cup) Cornstarch
- 375 ml (1 1/2 cup) Full Cream Milk - (whole milk)
- 1 1/2 teasp. Vanilla Paste
- 500 gr (1 lbs) Fresh Strawberries
- Fresh Mint, to taste - optional
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Sablée)
- Mix the Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt in the bowl of your Food Processor. Add the very cold Butter cut into small cubes, then pulse to blend until you get very thin crumbs (see note 1).
- Add the Egg and pulse until you a dough starts to come together (see note 2).
- Bring together into a ball and place between two sheets of baking paper. Roll into a large thin circle about 4 mm (1/8 inch) thick. Place in the fridge to rest and chill for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Line your Tart Ring (or pan) with the chilled Pastry, making sure to gently press where the bottom meets the edges to create a 45' angle (see note 3). Remove any excess pastry with a small pairing knife then dock the bottom of the pastry (poke with a fork). Place back in the frige to rest and chill for at least one hour (or up to 24 hours).
- Preheat your oven on 160'C/325'F and place the pastry in the freezer in the meantime. Blind-bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and fully baked (see note 4). Set aside to cool down.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Sugar, then add the Cornstarch.
- Heat up the Milk and Vanilla in a small Pot. When it starts to simmer, pour it over the Yolks/Sugar while whisking to temper the eggs, then transfer it all back into the pot.
- Cook for a few minutes on low heat or until the cream starts to thicken while continously whisking. When the cream starts to boil, whisk for an additional 30 seconds then remove from the stove.
- Transfer into a clean bowl or shallow pan (see note 5), cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream and place in the fridge to cool down for about 2 hours, or until completely cool.
Assembling the Tart
- Wash the Strawberries, cut out the top/leaves then slice them in half (see note 6).
- Spread the Pastry Cream over the baked tart crust using a small offset spatula (see note 7).
- Place the strawberry halves over the cream, starting from the edges of the tart then creating rings of strawberries towards the centre. Gently press the strawberries inside the cream to make them stick.
- Optional: finish with a few mint leaves or some icing sugar.
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- This tart pastry can also be made by hands if you don't have a food processor - see step by step instructions in my Pâte Sablée recipe.
- Try not to over-mix the pastry at this point; it is mixed enough if the crumbs stick together when you press them in your hands.
- If the pastry seems too hard to line the ring or starts to crack, leave it at room temperature for a couple of minutes to allow for the butter to soften slightly.
- To create a "seal" over the pastry, you can brush an egg yolk or white over the pastry halfway through the baking.
- Using a shallow pan will speed up the cooling process as the cream will be more spread out and less thick than in a bowl.
- If you wash them just before assembling the tart, dry the strawberries with paper towel so that they don't "leak" over the cream and make the crust soggy.
- If the cream seems to be a bit stiff when you take it out of the fridge, whisk it for a few seconds to loosen it before pouring it inside the crust.