Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dorie Greenspan's Classic Fruit Tart

This dessert is a showboat.  It looks like it came straight from Paris’ best patisserie.  And indeed its inspiration did.  It was Dorie Greenspan’s introduction to French pastry, an all-strawberry version and the first pastry she tasted when she first set foot in France.  It certainly left some impression because Ms. Greenspan went on to create this recipe herself.   The concentric circles of luscious fresh berries conceal the silky pastry cream and the pastry crust itself is beautifully browned.  You don’t have to limit yourselves to the three berries Andrew used here.  You could make this with a single fruit or more.  In Paris, you’ll come across versions where as many as a dozen fruits are cut into pieces and used as toppings.  Ms. Greenspan shared this recipe in “Baking Chez Moi” (2014 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) where she laid down some rules. Follow on and I’ll share them with you.

         First off, Ms. Greenspan insists on perfection in the three elements that make up the tart.  The crust, she says, must be very brown, if not you won’t get the full effect of all its flavors.  The dough can be made ahead of time but the baking needs to be done as close to serving time as possible.  The pastry cream should be very cold and well-flavored too.  Depending on your choice of fruit, you can add another layer of flavor by adding a drop of almond extract or orange or lemon oil.  Even a splash of rum and kirsch can make the pastry cream even better.   She suggests making the pastry cream a day in advance so the flavors blend and it has enough time to get cold.  The fruit itself should be at the peak of its ripeness. There’s one caveat here which is that you don’t want any water from the berries on the pastry cream. So if you don’t have to wash the berries, so much the better. But if you do wash the fruit, you must thoroughly dry the berries.  And finally, the tart should be put together no more than a few hours before serving.        
At serving time, it’s best to use a serrated knife to cut the tart. Carefully unmold it and slide it onto the serving platter.  Gently slice through the berries and pastry cream and then add more pressure to the knife to cut the pastry itself cleanly.  Don’t let the length of the recipe intimidate you. Ms Greenspan is one of the most detailed of all recipe writers.  It is really quite quick and easy, especially if you can make the pastry cream the night before, letting it chill overnight.  Here is the recipe:

Recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Classic Fruit Tart


1 fully baked sweet tart crust (recipe below)
2 cups (approx.) pastry cream (recipe below)
8-10 oz strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 oz. raspberries
6 oz blueberries

1/3 cup apple or red currant jelly for the glaze.
Bake the crust and let it cool to room temperature. Make the pastry cream and chill it (preferably the night before), and then spread chilled pastry cream inside the tart shell. Arrange fruit on top. Yeah, it's that easy.

Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for about 2 hours before rolling.*
2. To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

4. To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.
5. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon (or prick it with the tip of a small knife). Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.

Storing: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, the flavor will be fresher bake it directly from the freezer, already rolled out–just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

* Alternate press-in technique: If you want to use the press-in method, you can work with the dough as soon as it’s processed. Just press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but don’t press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.
Dorie Greenspan's Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks (I'm going to use a few less next time to cut some calories)
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk– this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly–as I always do–put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the Tart:

1. Whisk the pastry cream vigorously so that it is smooth.  Using an offset spatula or knife, spread the cream evenly over the bottom of the fully baked tart crust and smooth the top.   

2. While the cream is still soft, arrange the berries on it, giving each berry a gentle poke so that it settles into the cream.

To glaze the berries, bring the jelly and a teaspoon of ware to a boil.  Using a feather pastry brush or a small spoon, put a dot of glaze on top of each berry.

The tart can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving.   

1 comment:

  1. ooooh wow, that sight of fresh berries yummm. would love a slice of that !