Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy (Late) 4th of July or A Great Use of SoCal Produce

As I think I mentioned before on this blog, I moved to LA this week.  We are very excited to be here in Southern California, especially because the fruit and veggies are so amazing.  I just love going to the farmer's market and tasting and buying all the yummy food.  This is a big change from where we were, where farmer's markers were sparse and local produce was almost non-existant (we were living in the desert).

As I caught up on blogs this weekend, I thought to myself, its too bad I could not bake this weekend and do something fun for the 4th of July.  There is so much beautiful fruit around.  However, with all the unpacking and trying to find our kitchen, no baking has taken place.

And then I remembered this tart.  I made it a few weeks back, when we were still in Texas, for an end of the year office party for my husband.  I didn't actually get to taste it (I had to send it whole to the party) but it got really positive reviews.  He said there were lots of desserts at the party and this was the only one that was finished.  It was super easy to make, I probably could have whipped it up quickly when our kitchen was unpacked.  It is light and summery and a great treat for a hot day, when delicious produce is calling your name.  I used blackberries and raspberries here, but I think you could really use any berry and probably other kinds of fruit as well.  It is just sweet tart dough, pastry cream and fruit, with an simple jelly glaze.  Yum!

The recipe is after the jump...

Quick Classic Berry Tart

Baking: From My Home To Yours
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Serving: The tart needs nothing but a little espresso or some tea to accompany it.

Storing: Eat the tart as soon after it is constructed as possible, certainly on the day it is made. If you must keep it for a few hours, store it in the refrigerator, making sure to keep it away from any foods with strong odors.

About 1 1/2 cups Pastry Cream, cooled or chilled (Recipe Below)
1 9" tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough or Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (Recipes Below)
2 pints fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, or an assortment of berries (Dorie says you could also use slices of lightly poached fruit)
1/3 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 tsp of water, for glazing

Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough pastry cream into the tart crust to come almost to the rim, then even the surfact with a rubber spatula. Carefully lay the berries on the cream, arranging them in any pattern that pleases you. If you are using strawberries, either halve them from top to bottom or slice them, depending on the size of the berries and your whim.

Bring the jelly and the water to a boil in a microwave oven or on the stovetop. Working with a pastry brush or a pastry feather, dab each berry with a spot of jelly. Or, if you like, you can glaze the entire surface of the tart, including the bit of pastry cream that peeks through the berries.

Pastry Cream
Makes about 2 cups

Storing: The pastry cream can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold, or, if you want to cool it quickly - as I always do- put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Sweet Tart Dough
Makes 1 9" Crust

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer - it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Playing Around: Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts: This dough has a slightly more assertive flavor than the Sweet Tart Dough, but you can use the two interchangeably. For the nut dough, reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 1/4 cup finely ground almonds (or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios).

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 TBSP (9 TBSP) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in - you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9" fluted tart pan with a removeable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed - press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.

Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress- it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

1 comment:

  1. That tart looks lovely. It seems flexible, which is nice!


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