Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Dessert

The most important birthday, and a cake

Nicoletta April 30, 2016

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The most important birthday, and a cake. The shortbread pastry is light and crumbly, with a wonderful vanilla and lemon flavor. The custard is silky and smooth, just enough sweet and zesty, superb pillow for the fresh fruit artistically arranged on top. A superb, different birthday cake.

The most important birthday, and a cake

The most important birthday is not mine. I’ve never liked to be the center of attention, no spotlights for me, please. I get really shy, and goofy, when handed presents, asked to talk in front of people, even blow candles on the birthday cake makes me bashful. That’s why, as soon as I got my life in my hands I opted to celebrate my birthdays traveling, flying away, and taking it all in, the experiences of a different culture.



But I’ve always loved showing my love for the most important people in my life with presents, parties, surprises, and cakes. My husband is the love of my life. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. The moment I felt his arms around me in a hug I will never forget, everything around me became a dull background buzz and all I could hear was the beat of my heart. In that instant, I knew I had found my safe harbour, my blue sky, my perfect other half. And since that day, year after year, wherever I was, I’ve always made it possible to come back to Canada to celebrate his birthday together. That has been one of my gifts to him, together with some other material presents, a wonderful dinner and, of course, a cake. He’s a traveler, too, so for a few years we’ve honored his day abroad, but not this year, I’ve just come back to Canada, we need some quiet time at home. There’s going to be a dinner out in one of the restaurants that are on our “must” list and there’s going to be this cake. The cake I baked and decorated for him. With all my love.

vThe most important birthday, and a cake

You all know by now that I’m not a layered, frosted, iced cake kinda girl. I mean, I love seeing them and I am fascinated by the work of art that they are, but they’re not my work of art. They don’t reflect my personality, that’s all. So, instead of a cake, I turned to bake a Crostata di frutta con crema al limone, or otherwise called, Fresh Fruit Tart with Lemon Custard. Cheerful, colorful, delicately scented, perfectly balanced between tangy and sweet. Like our life together.

The pastafrolla, the shortbread pastry, is light and crumbly, with a wonderful vanilla and lemon flavor. The custard is silky and smooth, just enough sweet and zesty, superb pillow for the fresh fruit. The fruit, a choice of Loreto’s favorites: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, and honey clementines. An ode to spring and to my love.

Making this birthday cake:

The good thing with this tart is you can prepare the dough or the custard up to a couple days prior and refrigerate it, then assemble it the day you want to serve it. I did everything the same day: I started by making the shortbread pastry, let it sit in the refrigerator for half an hour, while in the meantime making the lemon custard. Once the crust was baked and cooled I filled it with the custard (that was cooled by then) and top it with the fresh fruit. Then, popped it in the fridge before enjoying it. As easy as that.

A tip on the shortbread pastry: it is very delicate and friable and it might tear when rolling it thin, so my suggestion is to roll it on a floured work surface just a tiny bit and finish flatten it directly in the buttered and floured tart pan helping with your hands.

The most important birthday, and a cake

The other good thing about a fruit tart is you can use seasonal fresh fruit and modify it according to taste and what’s available. The result is going to be amazing anyway.

The most important birthday, and a cakeThe most important birthday, and a cakeThe most important birthday, and a cake

Now you will excuse me, I got to go, I have a birthday to celebrate.

Happy birthday my love, this cake is for you.

The most important birthday, and a cake

Song of the day:  “I Wanna Be A Rockstar” by Nickelback. (You are already a rockstar, amore mio).

The most important birthday, and a cake

The most important birthday, and a cake

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 people 1x


Pastafrolla (Shortbread pastry)

  • 250 g organic, unbleached all purpose flour
  • 100 g sugar
  • 140 g butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, the zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Crema al limone (Lemon Custard)

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp organic, unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 glasses milk (about 400 ml)
  • the rind of 1/2 of an organic lemon


  • blackberries
  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • honey clementine
  • kiwi


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180°C).

For the Shortbread pastry:

  1. On a work surface place the flour making a hole in the middle and add the sugar, salt, butter flakes, egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla.
  2. Mix the ingredients quickly working the dough with your fingertips. Do not overwork so as not to warm the butter, but just until it comes together.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour.

For the Lemon Custard:

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan over low to medium with the lemon rind; beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then add the flour. Pour the heated milk mixture slowly, mixing with a whisk. Put back the mixture on the stove and stir constantly until the custard has thickened.
  2. Transfer the custard to a bowl and let it cool with a plastic wrap on top to keep it from drying out.
  3. Grease a 23 cm tart pan with butter and flour. Press the dough to the bottom of the pan with your hand (palm or fingers). Sprinkle the top with a little bit of flour if the dough sticks to your hand. Make it as flat as possible. Work with your thumb around the edge to make it even, removing any extra dough. Prick the dough with a fork.
  4. Bake the crust in the oven for about 25 minutes, until slightly golden on the edges.
  5. Let the crust cool down completely.
  6. Pour the cream on the crust and, with the help of a spoon, spread it around evenly.
  7. Now the fun part! I started from the center working my way to the edge. Blackberries in the middle, around them the raspberries, then I cut the strawberries in half and placed them in 2 large circles pointing out. Arranged a circle of clementine slices, then finished with the kiwi cut in half and arranged at the very far edge.


  • Serving Size: 1 23cm tart pan
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The most important birthday and a cake

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  • Avatar
    Reply Keith @ How's it Lookin? May 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Looks delicious. Nothin like fresh fruit, thanks a lot

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta May 1, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      It does taste delicious, the crumbly pastry dough topped with velvety smooth custard, topped with fresh, juicy fruit! A dance of flavors in your mouth. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Avatar
    Reply Meaghan May 1, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    What a beautiful post and a beautiful cake! Your love for Loreto is shining through in both. Sounds like you are so lucky to have found each other to celebrate with, laugh with, and of course cook with. It is a special relationship that allows to foster the love of travel, balance life’s commitments, and still sustain your connection even when apart. All the best to both of you!! Happy Birthday Loreto 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta May 1, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Oh Meaghan you’re so sweet! Thank you so much for your words. You’re right, we’re lucky to have found each other and we feel a strong connection even in the months we’re apart. It’s not easy but love is stronger than distance. Loreto enjoyed his cake so much, and not only him 😉 .

  • Avatar
    Reply demeter | beaming baker May 2, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Nicoletta, what a sweet and wonderful post. Truly, it warmed my heart hearing about your love for Loreto. 🙂 He is certainly the luckiest man in the world to have a love of such a kind-hearted woman. 🙂 I’m so happy to hear that you feel the same way about him. On the subject of being shy: I’m completely in agreement with you! Receiving gifts is kind of awkward, is it not? 🙂 Anyway, happy that you’re happy. Enjoy the rest of the week. Sending my good vibes to you that the move is going smoothly. 🙂 Pinning this!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta May 2, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Thanks so much Demeter, we’re both happy 🙂 . Everything is going smootly and we’re enjoying the great waeather. On this cake, it was sooo good and just the perfect gift for my love! Thanks for pinning it!

  • Avatar
    Reply annie@ciaochowbambina May 3, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Such a beautiful post, my friend… I love your love story. So warm and bright. And boy do we have that in common – I too shy away from being the center of attention…I love to dole it out but I’m uncomfortable receiving it. Give me an adventure on my birthday, every year, and I’m the happiest lady! This cake must have made your beloved feel very spoiled! So happy you could be together for his special day! Happy Belated Birthday, Loreto!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta May 3, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      It feels good to know that somebody else feels that way about not wanting to be the center of attention. Thank you for your wonderful words, my husband was so happy about the cake, he loved it! And then we all ate it :-). The whole day was dedicated to him and all the things he likes to do, it was a special, loving day. He thanks you very much for the wishes.

  • Avatar
    Reply karrie @ Tasty Ever After May 4, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment on this post but…Happy (belated) Birthday Loreto!!!! I love fresh fruit tarts and love that you added a lemon custard to it. I’ll have to make this soon 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta May 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks Karrie, you’re never late and always welcome! Thanks for the birthday wishes, very much appreciated. The tart was amazing! If you have the chance, make it for J 🙂 .

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto May 5, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Hey Karrie, any birthday wish is welcome late or not. Thank you! Nicoletta out did herself on this one. It was so fresh so tasty best present ever except for having Nicoletta back.
      Have a great day.

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