Monday, August 1, 2016

Peach and Blueberry Freeform Tart

This week I meditated on how some food combinations seem inevitable. Sure, chocolate and peanut butter, strawberries and cream, steak and potatoes, the usual suspects.

But then there're the ones we don't really think about. They're convenient and they just seem right.
Nectarines and Raspberries
Peaches and Blueberries
Apricots and Blackberries.
(these are basically the combos suggested by Cook's Illustrated, who wrote this I don't take full credit, but I do agree wholeheartedly that they are good and somewhat inevitable combinations).

Maybe it's just the slight seasonal shifts in what the two-week peak season is for each fruit. Any subset of pitted fruit and berry is delicious, but somehow peaches feel like they go with blueberries.

And throw it all in a homemade flaky pie crust, no crimping skills required, and straight into the oven. It's like, I can do crimping, and I can do making homemade pie crust dough, but doing both at once is pretty overwhelming. Let's side with taste and throw caution to the wind today.

The other nice thing is that they're a bit smaller than most pies. The whole thing is basically gone by the time you're done with dinner and breakfast the next day. It has no time to go soggy. If you're three people, maybe you can eke out another dinner dessert from it, but I dare you to let it last that long!

Choose whatever combination of summer fruit your heart desires...just adjust the sugar as you like. You can add a vanilla bean, or lemon zest, or other fanciness. Or not - I didn't miss a thing in this simple version.

Peach and Blueberry Free Form Tart
Yield: 1 tart (6 good slices)

For the dough:

  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7½ oz)
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 3 - 6 tablespoons cold water (I put an ice cube in mine)

For the filling:

  • Fruit for about 3 cups of filling - I used 3 medium peaches sliced into ½-inch wedges and a few handfuls of blueberries
  • 3-5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling the crust
  1. Note: this dough uses a food processor, but my favorite trusty method of grating frozen butter into the flour and salt and then working in the liquid by hand would probably also work well! Just jump to step 3 in that case.
  2. Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Sprinkle butter cubes over and pulse until most of the flour is the texture of bread crumbs and some pieces of butter are the size of peas. Add the water a tablespoon or two at a time, pulsing to combine, until you can squeeze a bit and it sticks together (dough will still be sandy/dry in places. That's okay!).
  3. Dump out the dough onto a countertop and gather into a rectangle taller than it is wide, about the width of your two hands. Farthest from you, press 1/6th of the dough away from you, then repeat with the next 1/6th until all the dough has been pressed into the counter (this creates butter flakes!). Gather back up into a pile and smear the dough against the counter once again. Now, when you gather it up it should form a pretty cohesive dough. Form into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. With 30 minutes to go on the dough, slice up your fruit but don't sugar it yet. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and put a rack in the lower-middle position. 
  5. When the hour is up, take the dough out and roll on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Just fix the cracks on the edges as they appear and keep rolling until you have a circle approximately 12 inches across. Put this, parchment and all, on a baking sheet and place the whole assembly back in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes. 
  6. With 5 minutes left on the dough, sprinkle sugar on fruit to taste, then pull out the dough and mound the fruit in the center. You should aim to have a 2½-inch border all around the fruit. Fold the edges in over the fruit, leaving a bit of dough space for the fruit to slide into as it cooks (about ½ inch). Fold over but don't pinch the dough or press it down.
  7. Working quickly, brush the dough with water and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over the crust. 
  8. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until crust is golden and fruit juices are bubbling. Cool 10 minutes on baking sheet, then slide off onto a rack to finish cooling. Dig in in half an hour for warm tart or an hour for room temperature. 
Enjoy! Recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

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