Let's Bake a Freelance Tart
Ever since I celebrated the arrival of summer berries three weeks ago, I have been loading up on the bounty, filling myself to the gills with antioxidant-rich purples, indigos and reds. As soon as the season begins, nature's clock starts ticking, so there's no time to waste.
Fellow berry-lovers known that blueberries hold up nicely in the fridge for several days, but those irresistible blossom-esque raspberries and blackberries start breaking down as soon as you get them home.
Within two days after purchasing, my razzies were looking less perky and showing beginning signs of fuzzy mold, so I had to act fast. The remaining half-pint of blackberries needed immediate attention as well.
Should I make a pie, I wondered? Nah, too much work on a hot day. Cobbler, perhaps? Hmm, nice idea, but not enough fruit. Plus, I wanted to try something new and I wanted it to be kind of freelance, ad hoc, if you will.
At last, I found something along freelance lines, a rustic berry tart from pastry chef Emily Luchetti's book, "A Passion for Desserts." Despite its classification as a tart, no tart pan is required. Better still, the recipe calls for a "pate sucrée," a pastry dough enhanced with sugar and egg (and in this case, heavy cream), all of which act as tenderizers, making for a cooperative, fuss-free dough (unlike its temperamental sibling, "pate brisée," which is used for pies).
Then the magic begins. The dough gets rolled out into a circle (or something close to it; don't worry, I never make perfect circles, either) and filling goes in center. Then basically, you're making a "purse," simply by lifting dough edges toward center of circle, allowing it to drape over dough. And that's it!
The next morning, you'll thank me, as this baby is killer for breakfast and tastes like a Pop-Tart should.
Questions or comments? Feel free to talk to me today at noon, during my weekly chat-fest, What's Cooking.
Rustic Blueberry Tart
Adapted from "A Passion for Desserts" by Emily Luchetti
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (I used a combo of blue, black and rasp) Note: Drain fruit in a sieve if soft and releasing juices
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste; if berries are really sweet, use less)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Making dough: Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, "cut" the butter into the flour mixture until it is nearly integrated and pea-sized.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together cream, egg and vanilla. Pour over butter-flour mixture and gently stir, until dough comes together. Note: Dough will seem sticky at first.
Form dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour.
In the meantime, make the filling:
Place berries, sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Tape the corners of a piece of parchment paper to your work surface and lightly flour parchment. Roll out dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick, into an 11-inch circle, or as close as you can get. Use scissors to trim if necessary.
Pick up parchment paper by ends and carefully transport to a baking sheet. Spoon filling in middle of tart and distribute, but allowing a 1-inch border around perimeter of dough. Lift dough by edges and fold over the filling. Use any remaining scraps to cover any holes.
Place in oven and bake until golden brown, at least 35 minutes. Fruit will ooze, but that's what the parchment is for.
Let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve into wedges, by itself, or with ice cream. Can be made a few hours in advance and wrapped at room temperature.
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