This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

This beautiful strawberry custard tart is a classic. Vanilla pastry cream and jewel-like strawberries shine in a buttery shortbread crust.

a strawberry custard tart on a cake stand
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Why we love this recipe

This elegant dessert is made of three classic elements — crisp shortbread, silky crème pâtissière, and lightly glazed ripe berries. It takes a bit of time and effort to prepare, but the results are well worth it. And once you’ve learned these techniques, you can use them to create a wide variety of other sweets, too.

This tart:

  • Takes luscious seasonal fruit to a whole new level
  • Is satisfyingly sweet but not overly so
  • Has a beautiful combination of textures
  • Makes a fitting end to a festive spring or summer gathering

I first published an earlier version of this recipe way back in 2011. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and made significant changes to the recipe itself.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

For the crust

The crust is my favorite shortbread tart case. Here’s what you’ll need.

ingredients in bowls
  • All-purpose flour gets the job done without a fuss. As long as you don’t overwork it, this crust is beautifully tender with no need for special pastry flour.
  • You don’t even need to sift the powdered sugar (also called confectioners sugar and 10x sugar) ahead of time, since you’ll be blitzing it in the food processor.
  • You can use salted or unsalted butter. I like to use a good cultured, salted butter for the vastly superior flavor. It sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is widely sold in supermarkets for a reasonable price.

For the custard

The custard in this tart is classic vanilla pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Here’s what you’ll need to make it.

ingredients in bowls
  • Whole milk yields by far the best texture in pastry cream. I don’t recommend substituting a lower fat, higher fat, or plant based option.
  • A combination of cornstarch and a little bit of all-purpose flour makes a silky custard that thickens nicely.
  • The amount of granulated sugar called for makes a gently sweet custard, which I think is perfectly calibrated. You can use a little bit more or less to suit your personal preferences without compromising the texture of the custard.
  • You’ll use half of a vanilla bean. Split it with a paring knife so the seeds can escape into the custard. Using a bean imparts such a beautiful, well-rounded vanilla flavor. But if you don’t have one, it’s okay to substitute two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. If using extract, stir it in at the end, with the butter.

To top

For the topping, you’ll use fresh strawberries, brushed lightly with classic apricot glaze. Here’s what you’ll need.

ingredients in bowls
  • This recipe will work with any strawberries, but the better the berries, the happier you’ll be. Strawberries are almost always at the top of the environmental working group’s dirty dozen, so try to buy organic, local, or wild, or even pick your own, when possible.
  • The professional-level presentation that comes from glazing the berries seriously couldn’t be easier. I like to use apricot jam, but you can use strawberry, raspberry, or currant instead if you prefer. You’ll simply heat it up with a little bit of water, strain it, and brush it on top of the tart to turn your berries into glimmering jewels.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a fabulous strawberry custard tart. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

Make the crust

step by step
  1. Pulse together the butter, sugar, and egg yolks. Add the flour and process just until it comes together when you pinch the dough with your fingers.
  2. Turn out onto parchment, knead a few times to bring together, and shape into a disc. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, then leave at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Roll out onto a floured work surface and gently edge dough into tart pan. Prick the bottom all over with a fork.
  4. Cover with parchment and dry beans or pie weights. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, then remove beans and parchment, brush with egg wash, and return to oven 15 minutes more. Once cool, crust is ready to fill.

Make the custard

step by step
  1. Prepare the ice bath. Then heat most of the milk, the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean to a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, a small amount of the milk, the cornstarch, and the flour. Temper the yolk mixture by pouring in a small amount of the hot milk while whisking constantly.
  3. Strain the yolk mixture into the pot with the rest of the hot milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. (And I do mean constantly.) When the mixture thickens and the first bubbles reach the center of the pot, remove from heat.
  4. Immediately strain custard into the bowl set in the ice bath. Stir in the butter until incorporated. Cover and chill completely. Custard will set up to a bit of a thicker consistency as it chills.

Assemble the tart

step by step
  1. Dollop the cold custard into the tart shell and spread evenly.
  2. Trim strawberries and slice nice and thin. Arrange in overlapping concentric circles.
  3. Heat the jam and water and strain to create a smooth glaze.
  4. Brush glaze onto berries. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

What is tempering?

Tempering means bringing an ingredient up to temperature slowly. In this recipe, we temper the yolks by adding a little bit of the hot milk to the yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Raising their temperature a little bit at a time prevents them from scrambling when we add them to the pot.

Can I use other fruits?

Sure thing. You can substitute most any summer fruit, from berries to cherries to sliced stone fruits or even bananas, without making other changes to the recipe.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

You can make the custard up to two days in advance and bake the crust up to about 24 hours in advance. Assemble the tart shortly before serving. Leftovers will keep, tightly covered in the fridge, for a couple of days.

More favorite tart recipes

a strawberry custard tart on a cake stand

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

5 from 8 votes

Strawberry Custard Tart

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This beautiful strawberry custard tart is a classic. Vanilla pastry cream and jewel-like strawberries shine in a buttery shortbread crust.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 1 9-inch tart
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients 

For the crust

  • 12 tablespoons (168 grams) cold butter, diced
  • ? cup (75 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water

For the custard

  • 3 cups (710 ml) whole milk, divided
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ¼ cup (32 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, diced

For the topping

  • 1 pound (454 grams) ripe fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water

Instructions 

Make the crust

  • Place the butter, powdered sugar, and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade.
  • Pulse until combined but still speckled with butter.
  • Add the flour and run the machine just until the dough comes together when you pinch it between your fingers.
  • Turn dough out onto a large piece of parchment, knead a few times to bring it all together, and pat it into a disc shape.
  • Wrap well in the parchment and chill for about half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center.
  • Remove dough from the fridge and let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface and over the surface of the dough. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to an approximately 12-inch circle.
  • Transfer the dough very carefully to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing on the dough lightly so it sits snugly against the bottom and sides of the pan. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork. Place the whole thing onto a baking sheet.
  • Place a piece of parchment paper over the shell, making sure to cover the edges. Spread plenty of dried beans or pie weights over the parchment, covering the whole bottom of the tart shell.
  • Bake for 15 minutes this way, then remove the parchment and beans.
  • If you would like to egg wash the tart, beat the egg and water together with a fork in a small bowl. Brush the shell with a bit of the egg wash. (You'll have a lot left over and can use it to make scrambled eggs if you like.)
  • Return shell to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, until completely cooked through. If edges start to color too much, you can cover them lightly with foil.
  • Remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.

Make the custard

  • Fill a large bowl with a few inches of ice water and set a smaller bowl inside it, ensuring that the ice water won’t breach the sides. You’ll use this ice bath later to cool the custard.
  • Pour 2 1/2 cups of the milk into a medium pot and the remaining 1/2 cup into a medium mixing bowl.
  • To the pot, add the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar dissolves.
  • To the bowl, add the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks. Whisk until smooth.
  • Slowly pour about one cup of the warm milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Set a fine-mesh strainer over the pot and pour the contents of the bowl through it.
  • Set pot back on stovetop and bring contents to a boil, whisking constantly. When the mixture thickens and large bubbles begin to form and pop, continue cooking, whisking constantly, for one minute. Then remove from heat and immediately proceed to the next step.
  • Pour custard back through the strainer into the bowl set in the ice bath.
  • Stir in the butter.
  • Cover with plastic wrap or buttered parchment, making sure it touches the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until very cold. 

Assemble the tart

  • Spread custard gently and evenly into tart shell.
  • Shortly before serving, core strawberries and slice in half or into thin vertical slices, as you wish.
  • Arrange over custard.
  • Place jam and water into a small bowl, microwave until warm, and stir together until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Brush evenly over strawberries.

Notes

  1. You can use salted or unsalted butter in both the tart shell and the custard. I like to use a good cultured, salted butter for the vastly superior flavor. It sounds fancy but doesn't have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is widely sold in supermarkets for a reasonable price.
  2. Whole milk yields by far the best texture in pastry cream. I don't recommend substituting a lower fat, higher fat, or plant based option.
  3. The amount of granulated sugar called for makes a gently sweet custard, which I think is perfectly calibrated. You can use a little bit more or less to suit your personal preferences without compromising the texture of the custard.
  4. You can make the custard up to two days in advance and bake the crust up to about 24 hours in advance. Assemble the tart shortly before serving. Leftovers will keep, tightly covered in the fridge, for a couple of days.
  5. You can substitute most any summer fruit, from berries to cherries to sliced stone fruits or even bananas, without making other changes to the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 620kcal, Carbohydrates: 64.3g, Protein: 11.2g, Fat: 36g, Fiber: 2.9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Pies & Tarts
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

More Recipes

Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

5 from 8 votes (8 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. I’m not a teacher, but I’d love to receive such as daintily wrapped package. I’m sure you delighted them.

  2. Such a gorgeous recipe, and beautiful photos as well. Just stumbled on your blog as a new member of the BlogHer community. So glad I did, I’m going to spend some time looking through your other lovely posts.