Sure, I've made tarts and served them without the glaze, but they always felt like they were missing something...some special detail.
Maybe I missed the professional culinary appearance found in the beautiful French patisseries. (Picture rows and rows of shiny and brightly colored tarts.) Maybe it was that Instagram worthy sparkle and shine that I missed. Or maybe it was the fact that my sliced fruits started to lose their color and looked a little wilted and dry before serving - like two day old cut salad greens.
Neutral Glaze does give it a beautiful shine! The glaze isn't there just for looks, though. It serves a functional purpose, too! That purpose? It creates a barrier on and around the fruit, locking in the moisture and preserving the fruits' colors and keeping them from drying out. In short...it keeps that fruit from looking wilted and stale.
In the industry we call it Neutral Glaze. Sometimes you'll find it called apricot glaze (if flavored with apricot jelly), and some call it mirror glaze (although in the cake world, that's something entirely different).
Tart glaze is usually clear and jelly-like in consistency, but it heats easily to a liquid at low temperatures in the microwave or on the stovetop. This liquid is then brushed across the tops and dabbed into the nooks and crannies of your fruit on top of your tarts. As soon as the liquid cools, it sets back up into a gel keeping your fruit locked in place and creating that protective top coat.
Neutral Glaze can be found premade - but few of us need a giant bucket (a life-time supply). It's easier for most of us to make it as we need it! And it's an easy recipe to create.
The magic ingredients are Pectin and Citric Acid. You have to have both for the gelling magic to happen.
Fruit Pectin can be found in your local grocery store, most often in the canning section but also in the baking section near puddings and gelatins. Fruit Pectin is commonly used in canning jams and jellies. One of the most widely known brands here in the USA is Sure Jell.
Join us for Class!
Interested in trying your hand at tart crusts and Ryan's super secret fruit tart filling recipe? Build your tart in class June 30th!
Neutral Glaze Recipe:
- 7g Citric Acid (1.5 tsp) with 80g Water (1/3 cup)
- alternatively use 80g Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (1/3 cup)
- 960g Water (4 cups)
- 450g Granulated Sugar (2 1/4 cups)
- 50g Dry Powder Fruit Pectin
- Dissolve the citric acid crystals in the 80 grams (1/3 cup) of water and set aside.
- Combine the 960g (4 cups) water, sugar, and pectin in a saucepan on medium high heat.
- Whisk to combine and dissolve the sugar completely.
- Once fully dissolved, turn the heat up and bring to a low boil.
- Once boiling, set a timer for 3 minutes.
- At 3 minutes, remove from heat and immediately whisk in the citric acid mixture (or lemon juice).
- Cool, stirring occasionally to break up the "skin" that forms on top.
- Use an ice bath to speed up the cooling process. Cover 2 cups of ice with cold water in a large bowl. Place your saucepan directly into this ice bath allowing the cold water to cool the saucepan and liquid inside.
- Once the glaze lowers to about 95 degrees you're ready to begin dabbing it onto your fruit tarts.
How do you get enough glaze to the fruit without moving things around? A natural bristle pastry brush works best at picking up adequate amounts of glaze.
If you have a "pile" of fruit, like the blueberries shown here, toss the fruit in a bowl of the glaze to coat it evenly before placing it on the tart.
Avoid getting glaze on your crust to prevent soggy crust edges.
Use the glaze to cover exposed areas of the tart custard, too, to help prevent moisture loss and cracking if the custard is exposed to air.
Reheat the glaze as needed to keep it liquified as you're working, but avoid overheating excessively, as this will break down the "gelling ability" of the pectin.
You can flavor your glaze, but traditionally it's left "neutral" so it doesn't take away from the flavors of your delicious tart.
If using lemon juice instead of citric acid crystals, use fresh squeezed lemon juice. Citric Acid is a must to make the glaze gel up, and sometimes canned juice doesn't have what it takes.
4 to 6 cups of glaze might seem like a lot, but it's hard to cut the recipe down when working with just 7 grams. Extend the shelf life by adding one teaspoon of Mold Inhibitor, also known as Potassium Sorbate, a widely preservative used in the baking and candy making industry, but available to all of us.
Don't feel like making a trip for pectin and citric acid? You could melt down any clear jelly, like apricot jelly or apple jelly. Just strain out any fruit bits. The effect isn't quite the same, but it works in a pinch.