Fruit Tarts – Fructose Friendly

Ev and I are planning a trip home to Australia soon, which of course gets us reminiscing about things that we miss. Mostly foods and restaurants… and of course our family and friends! Can’t forget them 🙂

One thing I miss terribly is the bakery food from Australia. American bakeries, generally, sell bagels, doughnuts, cupcakes, “cookies” and a travesty of a scone – think poorly flavoured, occasionally iced things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a good cupcake every now and then but it’s a bit of an obsession over here. The pastries back home are different – instead of cupcakes and cookies, we have slices, tarts, apple cakes and lamingtons. Doughnuts and cupcakes do appear but not as prominently.

My favourite bakery would have to be a tie between Mona’s Bakehouse in an eastern Melbourne suburb and Thresherman’s Bakehouse Cafe in Carlton near Lygon St. Thresherman’s has the best custard tarts hands down but the fruit tart award goes to Mona’s. At least it did back in 2010.

Fruit Tart 7

So, a few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house and we were talking about things we missed eating – this particular friend has coeliacs disease. I mentioned fruit tarts and how much I was looking forward to ignoring my fructose malabsorption (FM) and having one anyway when I go back home. Seeing as you can’t really ignore coeliacs, Gill said she hadn’t had one since she was diagnosed and that they were one of the desserts that she really missed. Because I had talked myself into a craving, I decided I would attempt to make a gluten free/FM friendly version of the tart that Gill and I could enjoy. And Evgeny as well, seeing as he has decided to cut out wheat from his diet.

So, the fruit tart.

I opted out of glazing them, as I was running short on time and I didn’t want to ruin them with a glaze I hadn’t tested out before. Maybe next time. Anyway, the tarts consist of a GF sour cream pastry which I substituted for the usual short crust pastry that has wheat in it, thickened custard and the fruit toppings. Bear in mind that the fruits I chose are all “safe” fruits for me but not necessarily for everyone with FM.

Pastry:

This recipe is adapted from Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry recipe to make it GF and a little sweeter. From the following I was able to get six smaller tarts and one large tart base. 

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F
  • 120 ml sour cream (do not use all of it if unnecessary)
  • 250 g GF plain flour
  • 1 tspn. xantham gum
  • 2-3 tbsp. icing sugar
  • 200 g unsalted butter, chilled

Sift the flour and xantham gum into the bowl of a stand mixer. Dice the butter into small cubes and add to flour mix. Blend until the butter has combined with the flour and the mixture resembles bread crumbs. I like to use the paddle attachment of my stand mixer rather than the whisk/beater attachment.

While mixing, add the sour cream gradually until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. It should be tacky but not sticking to your fingers. I’m sorry but I forgot to take photos of this step. Wrap the dough tightly in glad wrap and refrigerate it for approx. 20 minutes before working with it. Try and keep handling of the dough to a minimum, or the butter will begin to melt. If this happens, re-wrap the dough and place it in the fridge for another 5 minutes to chill it and begin again. When the pastry warms up it becomes increasingly fragile and harder to work with. 

Place the unwrapped ball onto a GF floured bench and knead for 30 seconds. Half of this recipe will be enough for one large 9″ tart pan and the other half can be divided into six smaller 5-6″ tart pans. Spray these with olive oil to assist with pastry removal later on.

Cut off enough pastry for one tart pan. Roll the pastry between two layers of wax paper (to prevent sticking) until it is about 3mm thick. GF pastry can be temperamental and fragile. Peel off one side of the wax paper, then replace it loosely; flip the dough over and remove the other sheet of wax paper and place the dough side down on your lightly floured hands. The remaining sheet of wax paper should just lift off and then you can carefully transfer the pastry into the awaiting tart pan. 

At this point, I like to freeze the pastry for about 10 minutes before blind baking it. Then, I add baking paper and ceramic baking balls (a brand new purchase, before this I used rice grains) to prevent bubbling while baking and bake it at 200 C for 10 minutes. Set a timer. Remove the baking paper and whichever pie weights you chose to use and return the pastry to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When it is golden brown, it is time to remove it. If I was making a pecan pie, I would only return the pastry to the oven for 5 minutes the second time but because the filling does not need to be baked, the pastry must be fully cooked before it is filled.

Fruit Tart 1

Pre-baking

Fruit Tart 2

The tart shells after 10 minutes of blind baking

Fruit Tart 3

After 20 minutes in the oven the tart shells are completely cooked

Custard:

The following measurements produce enough custard to fill either twelve 6″ tart shells or six 6″ tart shells and one 9″ tart shell.

  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 cup thickened cream/heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 6 tbsp. corn starch
  • 8 egg yolks (I like to retain egg whites in a sealed container to make pavlovas later on, or vice versa)
  • 4 tsp.vanilla extract (a little more if you don’t have a vanilla bean)

Custard 1

To make the custard, heat milk slowly in a medium saucepan until it is just bubbling at the edges. 

Custard 2

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sugar and corn starch and mix well. Stir into hot milk all at once. Cook, stirring over a medium heat, until it boils. This takes time, don’t be impatient; and keep stirring or you will get lumpy custard.

Milk tends to foam when it boils and is easy to burn

Milk tends to foam when it boils and is easy to burn

Foam on the back of your wooden spoon is a good indication of when to lower the heat

Foam on the back of your wooden spoon is a good indication of when to lower the heat

Reduce the heat and simmer for one minute. Beat a small amount of the mixture into the egg yolks and then pour the egg yolks back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, over a medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir vanilla in at the end. Again, don’t rush the process or your custard will be lumpy. It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much custard you are making and how “medium” your stove heat really is. If you were making a pouring custard, you could leave it a little runny. However we want this custard to support the fruit topping so it needs to be quite thick.

Custard 6

Place a sheet of waxed paper over the surface to prevent a skin from forming on the custard, or simply place the lid on the pan. Once the custard has cooled down to a lukewarm/room temperature, fill the tart shells generously but not so much that they overflow.

Fruit Tart 4

Fruit toppings:

Fruits that have a low fructose ratio are suitable for most FM sufferers but there are those out there for whom even “safe” fruits such as berries and bananas may be problematic.

I like to have a “rainbow” of colours on the tart for aesthetic reasons, which is why I chose canned peaches (be sure that they are done in peach juice and not apple or pear juice concentrate; omit if you are sensitive to polyols), strawberries, blueberries and kiwi fruit. Other fruits like passion fruit pulp as a topping, raspberries, blackberries or banana might also look pretty.

Six medium fruit tarts

Six medium fruit tarts

The large fruit tart- you can get creative with designs here

The large fruit tart- you can get creative with designs here

If you don’t have FM, feel free to go nuts with any fruits you like. Pears, mango, grapes etc would all look great on this.

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