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.