These tarts can be made with other fruit, but peaches and brioche are my favorite combination. The not-too-sweet brioche (recipe here) really highlights the fruit. With every bite, you get a yummy combination of brioche, pastry cream, and fresh peaches. The peaches look especially beautiful because they hold their shape well. When baked, the peaches come out even more beautiful than the raw fruit, and the flavor becomes more concentrated. Berries are delicious but can collapse, shrivel,
or release too much water. The shaped brioche dough looks really flat, like a pizza, when you put it in the oven. You might think it looks too flat, but as it bakes, the edges rise up and form a nice rim of rich, buttery bread. I tend to want to overfill these tarts with pastry cream—because I love pastry cream—but it’s important not to, so that the filling doesn’t spill over the sides during baking.
- Put 11⁄2 cups of the milk and 3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp of the granulated sugar in a saucepan over high heat. Add the vanilla seeds to the pot and drop in the pod. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Put the cornstarch, remaining 1⁄3 cup sugar, and the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until well incorporated. If there are still any clumps, strain through a ne-mesh sieve.
- As soon as the milk comes to a boil, drizzle a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg mixture so that it doesn’t curdle the eggs. Remove and discard the vanilla pod.
- Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking continuously until the mixture returns to a boil and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Cook for 1 additional minute so that the starch cooks out.
- Turn off the heat. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and, using a handheld mixer, mix on low speed until cooled, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath in a large stainless-steel bowl in which you can nest another wider bowl.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a wide bowl and cover with plastic wrap, laying it directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let the pastry cream cool to room temperature in the ice water bath. Refrigerate until ready to use, or for up to 3 days.
- Form the dough into 15 2-oz balls for the tarts. (At this point, you can freeze the balls, along with any remaining dough, reserved for another use; thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with the recipe.)
- Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Put the baking sheet in a warm place to proof until doubled in size, 1 1⁄2 to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- To make the egg wash: Combine the egg, egg yolk, milk, and salt in a small bowl and whisk. Brush each dough ball with the egg wash.
- Using your fingers, flatten the whole surface until it looks like a pizza, leaving a bit of a raised border.
- Put 1 Tbsp of the pastry cream in the center of each brioche and spread it out, leaving a rim of dough at the edges. Divide the peach and plum slices among the tarts. Add a few berries to the tarts, if desired. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the fruit and sides of the brioche tarts.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the brioche is golden brown. These are best eaten the day they are baked.
Reprinted with permission from Baking at Republique by Margarita Manzke, copyright (c) 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.