Monday, April 15, 2013

Fruit Tart without a Tart Pan

Spring is finally here, and we've been enjoying the sun and warmth so much that this poor blog has been neglected! Also, this happened:

But that's another post.

For now, here is a fruit tart, made without a tart pan:

All I did for the crust was make a basic pastry crust recipe, roll it out into a big circle, and pinched up the edges to form a rim. Refrigerate, poke all over with a fork, and bake on a cookie sheet! It's not quite as pretty as a lovely scalloped tart, but it's every bit as good. This is our second one in two weeks - the first I tried making in a pie pan, and it was a disaster!

While I can't recommend the pastry cream recipe I used from Joy of Baking (it was sooo lumpy, I had to strain it through a tea towel before it was edible), everything else was easy! I think a regular vanilla pudding or even yogurt would be delicious in its place.

Tart Crust (approximate measurements):
1/2 cup butter
3 Tbsp raw sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 Tbsp half and half
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

In a mixer or large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then mix in egg and half-and-half. Slowly add flour until a firm (but not dry) dough is formed. The texture should resemble cookie dough rather than pie dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate if too soft, then roll out onto a greased cookie sheet in a large circle. Use a bowl as a guide to trim edges, then use the trimmings to build up a shallow rim on the outer edge of the circle. Refrigerate this while preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking, poke all over with a fork to keep large bubbles from forming. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are golden.

Cool slightly, then spread simple chocolate ganache  (bar of dark chocolate melted with about a tablespoon of half and half) all over inside of crust to seal. Put in the fridge to cool completely, then add pastry cream (or other filling) on top of ganache. Top with fresh fruit, and glaze with melted fruit preserves to make it shiny and seal any fruit slices.

I used some home-made strawberry jam on the red and blue fruits (you can see some seeds on the blueberries), and home-made orange marmalade on the yellow fruits. Neither affected the flavor of the fruit, but on its second day in the fridge, the fruit still looks very fresh. I neglected to glaze my first tart, and the fruit looked a bit sad and withered by the second day. 

Also, the dark chocolate ganache inside the crust is an idea stolen from our local Fresh Market. We bought a fruit tart from them a few months back and it had a lovely layer of chocolate under the cream. Not only was it delicious, but the chocolate does double-duty by sealing your crust and keeping the filling and liquid from the fruit from making it soggy. I did try the egg white sealing method on our first tart, and while it seemed to work, it wasn't nearly this good. 

That's it! It's a very simple but impressive dessert, and quite handy if you suddenly find yourself with several cartons of fresh berries and 10 ripe mangoes that you bought on sale and need to use quickly (not that I've ever done that...). I'm thrilled by the fact that this didn't require any special equipment or pans - our minimalist kitchen lives on!

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