Sunday, September 11, 2011

Northwest Flavors: Late Summer Fruit Tart

As a girl I never understood what all the fuss was about birthday cakes—or any cake for that matter. Sticking candles into a delicious fruit tart or pie would have made much more sense to me.

My love of fruit baked in pastry or a good crust probably started with my Swedish grandmother’s wonderful loganberry, Marionberry, and boysenberry pies, made with fruit from her garden. We grandkids would pick fat, sun-kissed berries growing just a stone’s throw above the beach on Puget Sound, and in return we’d get to savor warm pies with her perfect flaky crusts. She managed to capture the peak of summer in her sweet-tart treasures baked with love.

Sad to say, but I’ve never had the patience to master the art of achieving excellent pie crusts. I have, however, made some good fruit tarts and galettes over the years. This summer a friend introduced me to a new twist on a fruit tart, which I’m happy to share with you here with her blessing. [Note: a commenter reminded me that this recipe is technically more a clafoutis than a tart. I stand corrected!]

On a warm summer night over in Wenatchee, tree fruit central of the Pacific Northwest (a.k.a., the Apple Capital), Lesley whipped up a beautiful cherry tart topped with a sugary-crispy crust. As her sister jokes, Lesley is like a fine restaurant with a very limited menu. “I have a few things that I make very well,” she modestly says. Don’t be fooled. She does pretty much everything very well.

What’s especially tasty about this confection is the wonderful crust that develops during the baking process. After baking a hand-formed buttery crust in a tart pan or springform pan, pile the fruit of your choice in the center, and then simply pour a blended mixture of eggs, sugar, flour, and a touch of salt over the fruit.

We had this with dark cherries, but I’ve since made it with a plum-cherry mixture. With a late growing season this year, blackberries, nectarines, and peaches would be wonderful as well right now. Or any frozen fruit any time of year.

Lesley’s Fruit Tart (8” round)

Crust: 1 C flour, 1/3 C powdered sugar, and 1/2 C butter

Pulse together in food processor (or mix with pastry cutter) until mixed and forming a pea-sized crumb. Pat with hands into round tart pan or 8” springform pan (removable bottom). Bake in 350-degree oven for 12 minutes.

Innards: 2 C chopped fruit, 1/4 C flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 1 C sugar

When the crust has finished prebaking, evenly spread chopped fruit over tart crust. (Do not pile fruit close to outside edge.) Put flour, salt, eggs, and sugar into food processor and pulse until pale yellow and creamy. Pour this mixture evenly over the fruit, being careful not to pour on the edge of the crust or overfill. Bake for another 40-45 minutes. Let cool a bit (5-10 minutes) and loosen tart from edge of pan with a knife. Remove pan sides. Serve plain, with ice cream, or whipped cream, and then enjoy with friends or family.

For 10” pan, multiply recipe by 1.5. For gluten-free recipe, substitute rice flour for wheat flour.

My Baking Notes

So when I baked this, it didn't turn out as beautifully as Lesley's, which is pictured here. My oven runs hot, and I took it out after only about 30 - 35 minutes because it was getting dark. To cover it up and to make it look prettier, I generously sprinkled powdered sugar on top through a sieve. I also used a tart pan instead of a springform pan and whole wheat pastry flour, which gave it a slightly more rustic crust.


Lindsey said...

Jill, this looks like my kind of dessert! And stone fruit is finally in and fantastic. Is there a way to print just the recipes from your blog? Or should I cut and paste into Word? Thanks, Lindsey.

jill said...

Hey Lindsey! I don't think there is a particular print format for the blog - you could just print out the post (probably 2 pages) or cut and paste into Word - that would probably be easier for you to format to your preference. Enjoy!

DaveOnFidalgo said...

Jill, I see a lot of food in your posts. I detect a theme. ;-)

For Lindsey, select the text you want to copy, press the left mouse button and drag the pointer across the text. Sometimes it works best to select from the bottom up. Now, press the CTRL and C key together (C for Copy). Open a Notepad or Word document, place the cursor and press CTRL and V together to paste the text. Instant plagiarism! You can also use Edit >> Copy and Edit >> Paste

Barry said...

Oh, this looks swell!

Yesterday I made a peach upside down cake with a frangipane batter (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone). Fabulous, simply fabulous.

(Of course, 1/2 pound of butter and similar quantity of sugar would make spam taste pretty darn good!)

Jenny said...

Jill, this looks marvelous, can't wait to try it with the amazing fruit we are getting now....I'm thinking Italian prunes!

ML said...

Jill, here in Amsterdam, gray and wet but good small hotel, great reading and nice food. That said, my French side would describe your "tart" as something closer to clafoutis. Both good and this recipe looks delicious but not, as the french would describe it, a tart. Call it an opinion.

jill said...

Dave, thanks for the tip! Yes, am I food blogger who loves nature and outdoors? Or the other way around?

Barry, anything with peaches sounds wonderful to me, add the butter and sugar, hmmm.

Jenny, Italian prunes sound marvelous! I just bought a bunch at the farmer's market this weekend.

ML, thanks for the correction! Enjoy Amsterdam!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe. Holy cow that looks good. I, too, am a sucker for fruit pies, although not at all good for me since I'm a diabetic. Every once in a while I allow myself a forkful, but no more. I probably shouldn't bake this or it will be too hard to resist.

Janis said...

I'm totally going to make this! I like how you made it sound so easy and it looks so good, how can I go wrong?