Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer berry tart

From Rose Levy Beranbaum's excellent and much-loved Pie and Pastry Bible: "When fresh berries are at the peak of their season, this tart is the time-honored way to make the most of them." Well, Rose Levy rarely steers me wrong, so I decided to give her Fresh Berry Tart a shot this weekend.

The tart has three components: a sweet cookie shell, a creamy (think eclair) filling, and of course, the berries. I'd suggest making the pastry cream first, then prepare the shell while the cream is cooling. The recipe suggests that you assemble shortly before serving, but we've had the tart in our fridge for a couple days and it's been fine - it's delicious, so you probably won't have to worry about it keeping more than 48 hours. :)

Pastry cream
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 c. half and half
1/2 c. sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Whisk together the eggs and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Add 1/4 c. of half and half and whisk together. Set aside. Prepare a small bowl with a strainer set over it, next to your stovetop.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and 1 3/4 c. half and half. Over medium heat, bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Whisk about 2 Tbsp. of the boiling mixture into the egg, and then pour the egg mixture through the strainer into a new bowl. Prepare a medium sized, clean bowl and have plastic wrap out as well before continuing to the next step.

Bring the mixture in the saucepan back to a boil, and quickly add the egg mixture, whisking rapidly. Whisk together about 20-30 sec, making sure to scrape the corners of the pan - at this point the mixture will become extremely thick (it's pretty cool, actually. Like chemistry!) Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Once everything is well incorporated, scrape the mixture into your clean bowl and put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling - this prevents a skin from forming.

Allow to cool to room temperature (about one hour) and then refrigerate until cold and firm.

Sweet Cookie Tart Crust (make this while the pastry cream is cooling)
8 Tbsp. (4oz.) cold butter, cubed
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. (50g) AP flour
pinch salt
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Combine flour and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together egg yolk and cream in another small bowl. Using food processor, pulse butter and sugar together about 15 times, until sugar disappears. Add the flour and salt, pulse another 15 times; the butter chunks should be about the size of small peas. Add the yolk and cream mixture to the food processor and pulse until just incorporated, about 8 times. [Alternately, you can combine all the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or pair of knives, then mix in the wet ingredients.] The dough will still be quite crumbly but should stick together if you pinch it between your fingers.

Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a flat, 6 inch disc. Wrap well and move to freezer for about 10 minutes, or until firm enough to shape. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 400°F, and butter and flour the sides of a 9 1/2 inch tart pan.

Remove the dough from the freezer and either roll it out into a 10" circle and transfer to the tart pan, or place it in the center of the tart pan and press it out into the tart shell shape (I find pressing it into place much easier than rolling and transferring). Bake for 5 minutes at 400°, prick the bubbles out of the dough, lower the temperature to 375°F and bake 12-15 minutes more (until golden). Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once the filling and tart shell have cooled sufficiently, spread about 2 c. of the filling into the tart shell. Top with 3-4 c. berries - as much as you can possibly add without them falling off! Chill until ready to serve.

We used a 1:1:2 ratio of raspberries, olallieberries and blackberries. If you want a nice glaze, heat up about 1/4 c. preserves (we used apricot but almost any kind will do) in a microwave or on the stovetop and brush delicately onto the berries. If you don't have preserves, you could make a simple sugar syrup (boil together 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 Tbsp. water) and use that as a glaze.

The tart was very tasty - the pastry cream was phenomenal, especially paired with our very ripe berries. The only downside was that it took quite a while to make, between cooling the pastry cream and pressing out the dough... doesn't mean I won't make it again, though! One bonus I wasn't expecting - the recipe for the pastry cream makes about a half cup too much for the tart. So if you have left over berries, or a pint of strawberries, you could just eat them with the cream!


Caroline said...

Yum!! It looks positively fantastic, though I don't know what those strangely-named berries you used are. . .

*Runs to the farmers market to get berries*

Jackie said...

Ha! I had never heard of olallieberries either, until I looked up that in-season produce thing. Then I saw some at the market and wanted to try. They're very similar to blackberries, but maybe a little sweeter?

Ruth said...

That does look delicious. There is nothing quite as great a combo as shortbread type crust, vanilla creamy filling and gorgeous berries. I make one similar- thanks for reminding me.

Glad you dropped by my site and I plan on stopping by here often.

I'd be happy to be linked here and plan on adding you to mine.

Vineela said...

Hi jackie,
I came thru ruth's blog.
Berry tart is yummy.
"Calphalon" wok really worthy.
Hope to see more delicacies from you.

KrisM said...

Hmmm, farmer's market on Thursday, need to bribe lab on Friday...berry tart, here I come!
I generally refer to Rose LB as "the crack lady" because she's so insistant on everything being done her way--but then she can't make a damn pumpkin pie (if you've read her intro--that kills me. What can of pumpkin DOESN'T have a recipe for pie??). But regardless, she's got some good stuff!!

Kelly said...

I am absolutely going to make this soon! It's gorgeous.

Jackie said...

Vineela - nice to have you! I'm glad you've liked the recipes so far, hopefully we can keep them coming. :)

Kris - Yeeeah, I guess you could say RLB is kind of anal retentive. But her recipes usually turn out very well for me. We always make her Pumpkin Chiffon Pie for Thanksgiving/Christmas; CJ loves it with a passion.

Anne said...

Hello, Jackie! Backtracked from the comment you left on my blog. I adore olallieberries--when I was a kid, my family would go pick them every summer at a pick-your-own place on Hwy 1. I think just this last weekend my grandmother made 20 jars of olallie jam, and her olallie pies are legendary. Anyway, I'm glad to see olallies getting some more press! If you're up for a fun afternoon outside the Berkeley area, check out Coastways Ranch.

Oh, and olallies are a cross between blackberries and raspberries.