A Summer of Fruit Tarts
FarmPlate Jun 02, 2010 Real Food 1 comments
The shutters are off the camp windows, the lightning bugs will soon be out in full force and the lake temperature is already 58 degrees. The long days of summer are here. This is no time to be fussing with tricky or sticky pie dough.
Yet there's a whole progression of summer fruits and berries to be picked, each one begging to be baked into pie. Right now there's rhubarb in the garden, and once that gets too woody the strawberries and cherries will be ripe and ready. Then raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and gooseberries come into play before the plums show up. A free-form tart, sometimes called crostata or galette, is the perfect way to show off summer's best, and it's quick to mix and shape even in a hot and humid kitchen.
You'll need a reliable crust recipe for warm weather baking, one that comes together easily and bakes tender and flaky. This recipe relies on a few tricks to achieve that: a little cornstarch, vodka and lemon juice all work to keep the dough tender. Rolling the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper makes it easy to transfer.
You're sure to find plenty of fresh-picked rhubarb at the Capital City Farmers' Market and other local markets this weekend. If you're lucky, there might be a pint or two of perfect strawberries as well. They'll make a lovely strawberry-rhubarb tart, a perfect way to start your summer of fruit tarts.
Summer Fruit Tart —A Basic Recipe
from the FarmPlate Kitchen
For super-juicy fruits like cherries or berries, sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons dried, unsweetened tart cherries in the bottom of the tart before adding the rest of the fruit.
For the dough:
2 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vodka such as Sunshine Vodka from Green Mountain Distillers
1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice
For the filling:
3 cups fresh fruit, diced or sliced if fruits are larger than your thumb
½ cup light brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons instant tapioca
1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
In a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the butter pieces and process in bursts until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Measure the vodka and orange or lemon juice into a measuring cup and add enough ice water to make ½ cup. With the machine running, add the water in a slow stream and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Dump the dough onto a pastry marble or clean countertop. Bring together into a mound about 9 x 9 inches. Starting at one corner, use the heel of your hand to smear a small amount of dough against the work surface (French pastry chefs call this le fraissage). Press and smear the whole mound of dough, then gather it up into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
Just before rolling out the dough, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toss the fruit, brown sugar, tapioca and lemon juice in a bowl.
Dust a work surface with a little flour. Place a 12 x 12-inch piece of baking parchment on the work surface and dust that as well. Place the chilled pie dough on the parchment. Roll to a large circle whose edge extends about 2 inches beyond the edge of the parchment.
Transfer the circle of dough with the parchment stuck to the bottom to large tart pan or baking sheet with sides. Mound the fruit in the middle. Fold in the dough edge to cover the fruit part way. Sprinkle the exposed fruit with Demerara sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly and fragrant, 45 to 50 minutes.
Serve summer fruit tarts with dairy-fresh vanilla ice cream such as that handmade at the Mountain Creamery.
Serves 8 to 10