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OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Mixed berry tart good use of seasonal bounty

by Kelly Brant | May 12, 2021 at 7:07 a.m.
Mixed Berry Tart With Citrus-Scented Crust (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

My strawberry celebration hasn't slowed down. This week I threw blueberries into the mix with a double berry tart.

The foundation of the tart is a citrus zest infused dough that's easy to make and easy to roll. The recipe, adapted from "King Arthur Baking Company's The All-Purpose Baker's Companion" (The Countryman Press, $40), makes enough for three (10-inch) tarts. I froze the extra dough for future tarts.

The crust is filled with a sweet pastry cream and then topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries. Blackberries or raspberries would be wonderful in place of or in addition to the strawberries and blueberries. Many fresh fruit tart recipes call for brushing the fruit with a glaze of warmed jelly. You could do that here, but I prefer the berries naked.

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Mixed Berry Tart With Citrus-Scented Crust

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (9- or 10-inch) baked Citrus-Scented Tart shell (recipe follows)
  • 3 to 4 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

In a saucepan, whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks, whisking until completely smooth. Whisk in ½ cup of the milk, whisking until completely smooth. Stir in the remaining milk. Place pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-safe spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, until the mixture thickens — this will happen suddenly once the mixture reaches about 170 degrees. Immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface of the custard and let cool to lukewarm at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

(While the pastry cream is chilling is a good time to prepare the dough for the crust.)

To assemble:

Remove the Citrus-Scented Tart shell from the pan and place it on a serving platter or cake stand.

Spread the chilled pastry cream into the bottom of the tart shell. Top pastry cream with the strawberries and then the blueberries, letting the blueberries fall into the gaps between the strawberries.

Chill for about 1 hour before serving.

Makes 1 tart.

Pastry cream recipe adapted from "Strawberry Love" by Cynthia Graubart

Citrus-Scented Tart Dough (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Citrus-Scented Tart Dough (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Citrus-Scented Tart Dough

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest from 1 orange OR 2 tangerines
  • 4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (use just a pinch if using salted butter)
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, slightly softened
  • 1 egg PLUS 2 egg yolks
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and citrus zests and mix to combine. Whisk in the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and add it to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the texture of rolled oats. Add the egg and egg yolks and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands for 2 minutes. Add the water and continue mixing for 2 minutes more.

Turn the mixture out on to a smooth work surface and press the mixture with the heel of your hand until it comes together, working in more flour or water as needed to get a smooth consistency. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Shape each portion into a 4-inch disc. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling and baking. (Wrapped dough can be frozen for up to three months.)

To use, remove one disc from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened and pliable. Roll dough to fit at 9-inch square or 10-inch round tart pan.

Arrange dough in pan and dock dough all over with the tines of a fork. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, beans or plain granulated sugar. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tart shell for 14 minutes or until edges are just golden. Carefully remove the parchment paper (pull the corners together and lift) and weights; return crust to the oven and bake 4 to 7 minutes more or until the bottom of the crust is set and the edges are golden brown.

Cool and use as directed.

Makes enough for 3 (9- to 10-inch) tarts.

Recipe from "King Arthur Baking Company's The All-Purpose Baker's Companion"(The Countryman Press, $40)

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