Ripe blackberries glistening in the sun have been begging me to bake a fruit tart with the wonderful fruits of summer before they disappear. The fruit tart has four steps: baking the base; making the custard; arranging the fruit; and pouring a glaze over the top. You can skip the first step by buying a pre-made base, but the recipe I use for the base is very easy. A fruit tart is best made in a fruit tart pan with fluted edge and a bottom that lifts out.







A true fruit tart custard is supposed to be a creme patisserie (pastry cream). I've eaten some that seemed more like marshmallow, but I prefer a vanilla pudding style cream. I checked Julia Child's recipes and found that she makes a creme patisserie that requires so much beating it might replace a gym workout. Like my protagonist, Sophie Winston, in the Domestic Diva Mysteries, I like to bake, but I prefer to keep it simple and easy whenever possible. I came up with my own less strenuous version, but honestly, I think any creamy but firm vanilla pudding or custard will work.


While I was looking at Julia's recipe, I realized that she uses the same glaze that I grew up with -- heated apricot jam. I've a feeling that glaze has been in use for a very long time.



SPONGECAKE


This very basic spongecake recipe is based on a Dr. Oetker Recipe. Those with German ancestry will recognize the Oetker name as a staple in German kitchens.


1 egg

3 tablespoons warm water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Grease a tart pan with butter.

3. Beat the egg with the warm water until frothy.

4. Add the sugar and beat until thick and lemon-colored.

5. Beat in the baking powder and the flour.

6. Beat in the vanilla.


Pour the batter into the pan and bake 20 - 25 minutes. When done, cool on a cake rack. Do NOT remove it from the tart pan.


CUSTARD


2 cups milk

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed pot, but do not bring to a boil.

2. Beat the yolks with the sugar until thick and lemon-colored.

3. Add the flour and continue beating.

4. While beating, slowly pour in the scalding milk.

5. Mix thoroughly, then return the mixture to the pot.

6. Over medium heat, stir constantly until thick. It will foam a bit on the top, but keep stirring until it's a nice custard-like texture.

7. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and the butter.

8. Pour into the tart pan over top of the spongecake base. Spread to the edges.


FRUIT


Prepare the fruit by washing and drying it. When the custard has cooled, arrange the fruit in a pleasing pattern. It does not need to be heaped. I used blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.


GLAZE


1 jar apricot jam

2 tablespoons sugar


1. Put the jam through a sieve to eliminate the chunky bits.

2. Stirring constantly, mix the rest with the sugar over medium heat.

3. Bring to a boil. Continue to stir another minute or two. It should look clear and the sugar should be dissolved.

4. Spoon or pour over the fruit while hot. If you need to, you can reheat any that has gelled.


Refrigerate the fruit tart. Before serving, push the bottom up with your hand to separate it from the rim.


Enjoy!