French Custard Tart (Tarte à la Crème)


French Custard Tart (Tarte à la Crème)


For the Tart Crust (Pâte Sucrée):

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1-2 tablespoons cold water

For the Custard Filling (Crème Pâtissière):

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Prepare the Tart Crust (Pâte Sucrée):

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add the cold butter and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Add the egg yolk and mix until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms.
  • Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

3. Roll Out the Dough:

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  • Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the bottom and sides. Trim any excess dough.
  • Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing up during baking.

4. Bake the Tart Shell:

  • Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Let the tart shell cool completely.

5. Prepare the Custard Filling (Crème Pâtissière):

  • In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped) over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat and let it infuse for 10 minutes. If using vanilla extract, add it later with the butter.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth and pale.
  • Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
  • Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the butter (and vanilla extract, if using).
  • Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming), and let it cool to room temperature.

6. Assemble the Tart:

  • Once the tart shell and custard are completely cooled, fill the tart shell with the custard.
  • Smooth the top with a spatula.

7. Chill and Serve:

  • Refrigerate the tart for at least 2 hours to set.
  • Before serving, you can optionally garnish the tart with fresh berries, a dusting of powdered sugar, or a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Enjoy your classic French Custard Tart (Tarte à la Crème)! This elegant dessert features a buttery, crisp crust filled with a rich and creamy custard, perfect for any occasion.