WITH EACH successively ripening summer fruit, my allegiance wavers. Strawberries are like a first crush, sweet and wholesome. But then I fall in love with the dark and handsome poetry scribbler, the cherry, whose deep stains are hard to forget.
When I find myself tiring just a bit from his moody ways, the racy raspberry steals my heart with that perfect combination of fun and romance. An affair of blackberries, snatched offhandedly during a walk to the park, doesn’t quite satisfy.
All of these sweet summer treats grow well in Western Washington, and Kirkland. But it seems to me we all miss the raspberries a little more than we should. Fortunately, with such a late start to the summer weather, we might get a few more pints of them from the farmers.
Knowing how much I adore the bubbly red thimbles, my mom left me a wonderful surprise on the counter while I was out one evening -- three half flats of ripe raspberries. She loves shopping at the Yakima Fruit Market just north of Kirkland on Bothell Way, which sells local produce for a bit less than the average farmer’s market.
I got home late the night of the surprise raspberry drop-off, but first thing in the morning, my kids and I were pushing our way through the new and confusing aisles at , fillings rattling in my teeth with each surge of the jackhammer behind the construction zone. I picked up a new case of jam jars -- the cute quilted kind that make perfect hostess gifts.
Since man cannot live on raspberry jam alone -- especially my man, who despises the billions of seeds -- I perused the housewares to find a tart pan. Just the night before, we had a discussion with some friends about buying things you didn’t know you needed until you saw them at Fred Meyer. So, it wasn’t without a little bit of guilt that I also bought two new bread pans and a pack of wire racks -- but they were on sale!
BACK HOME, I washed and mashed berries, sterilized those adorable jars, softened butter for a tart crust and made an enormous mess of my kitchen. It was hot that day and here I was boiling gallons of water in my huge canner. Fortunately, making a tart crust isn’t as temperature-sensitive as a pie crust, which requires frozen flour, butter and whatnot to create that perfect flaky texture.
Tart crust is more like a very rich cookie, which is ten times better than any pie crust in my opinion. I’d been meaning to make this tart again for a very long time. A few years ago, I topped it with ripe peaches -- a sensational variation. But, since I’m currently in the irresponsible stage of reckless raspberries, this tart would be topped in juicy rubies.
It’s not a difficult recipe, but it does take time since it requires mashed, hard-cooked egg yolks, refrigerator resting before rolling and then freezing for at least an hour before baking it another hour. The effort is all worth it.
The crust stays crisp even the next day when I will undoubtedly be eating fruit tart for breakfast. I know it’s not good for me, but, like young love, I just can’t help it! See what raspberries do to me?
For the dough:
- 2 c sifted flour
- 3 TB sugar
- ¾ c butter (1 ½ sticks), cut into pieces
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp grated lemon rind
- 3 hard cooked egg yolks, mashed
- 2 raw egg yolks
For the filling:
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- ¾ c ground nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
- ½ c sugar
- 3 to 4 c raw pitted fruit (raspberries, peaches, cherries, etc.)
- ½ c glaze (apricot jam for light colored fruit, currant/raspberry jam for dark colored fruit)
- Place the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Add all ingredients to the well. The butter should not be ice cold, nor so soft that it is oily.
- With your finger tips, make a paste of the center ingredients, gradually incorporating flour to form a smooth, firm ball of dough. Work quickly so the butter does not become oily. When the sides of the bowl are clean, the pastry is finished. Wrap it in wax paper and chill in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to roll.
- Roll the pastry between sheets of wax paper, loosening the paper as necessary. The dough should be just under ¼ inch in thickness. Use the paper to help invert the dough onto the tart pan, being careful not to stretch or tear the dough. Gently mold the dough to the pan. Set the paper across the top and roll over the edges to cut off the excess dough, which can be used as a lattice topping depending on the filling.
- Cover the filled tart pan with the paper and freeze for at least an hour before baking. (At this stage, you can tightly cover the pan and freeze it for another time if you wish. Frozen tart shells should not be thawed before baking and may require a few fork pricks during baking to prevent puffy bubbles from forming.)
- To bake, preheat the oven to 350 and arrange a rack on the very lowest setting.
- Combine the cinnamon and nuts, then press into the chilled crust of the tart.
- Combine the sugar and fruit, then layer the fruit into the raw tart crust, paying special attention to make the top layer look pretty.
- Bake the tart on the lowest rack for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and glaze with the jam while the tart is still hot. Allow the tart to cool before tucking in -- molten fruit is painful!