Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Classic Berry Tart

I made this beautiful, delicious berry tart for Christmas lunch at my parents'. It was a big hit and relatively easy to make. My favorite part (as is usually the case) was the crust - so amazing, not only in flavor, but in ease of making it! That was the biggest surprise for me - how easy it was to make the crust. I never make my own pie dough, so I was apprehensive to make this sweet tart crust. But with a food processor, it could not have been easier!

I have to say I wasn't in love with the pastry cream. It served its purpose but was a little bland for me. Next time I'll try Ina's pastry cream to see if that's better, or I'll try one of Dorie's other pastry creams. Overall, though, this was an impressive-looking dessert for a special day - one I hope to make again soon.

Special thanks to by sister-in-law, Shawn, for taking the photo when I forgot my camera.

Classic Berry Tart
Source: Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1.5 cups pastry cream, cooled or chilled
1 9-inch sweet tart shell, fully baked and cooled
2 pints fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or an assortment
1/3 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 tsp water, for glazing

For the Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch, sifted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the yolks. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously and thoroughly (make sure to get the edges), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1-2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for five minutes then whisk in the butter. Stir until the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl and press plastic wrap to its surface. Refridgerate until ready to use.

For the Sweet Tart Dough:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp (9 Tbsp) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the four, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in - some pieces will be the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk 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 forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very sparingly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom (I used a spring form pan). Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the fridge to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking (I froze mine overnight).

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of tin foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. It's not necessary to use weights if you've frozen the crust. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, gently press it down with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch if necessary and remove to a cooling rack (keeping it in the pan). For a fully baked crust, bake for another eight minutes until it's firm and golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To assemble the tart:
Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple strong turns of the whisk. Spoon enough cream into the crust to come almost to the rim, then even the surface with a spatula. Lay the berries on the cream, arranging in any pattern that you like.

Bring the jelly and water to a boil in the microwave or stovetop. Working with a pastry brush, dab each berry with a spot of jelly, or glaze the entire surface of the tart. (I didn't do the glaze).

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