Rustic fruit tarts are pretty and a sweet treat in winter
Rustic, free-form tarts are a great tasting (and looking) dessert with the colorful fruit peeking out of the top. I make a peach/almond one in the summer. So, when I came across an apple/plum version in Food & Wine magazine, I had to try it.
The original recipe was from author Susan Spungen; but, it called for some rye flour, which I didn’t have, so I made it with white whole wheat flour, which came out great. And, I love the nutty flavor cornmeal gives to pastry.
As she pointed out, they can be made ahead. “The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; the unbaked tarts can be refrigerated overnight; or the whole tarts can be baked and frozen, then reheated shortly before serving.”
I also made them with pears instead of apples, which was lovely. I want to try more pairings once seasonal fruits are available again. Peach/blueberry anyone? And, I want to try adding some finely minced herbs, maybe a little lemon balm or mint.
Makes 2 tarts (can serve 4)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (or rye flour)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 20 wedges each
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 red or black plums, pitted and cut into 16 wedges each
1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed together
Raw sugar, for sprinkling
Mix both flours with the cornmeal, sugar and salt. Add the butter and using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-sized pieces of butter still visible. (You could use a food processor if you want, but I like to use my hands).
Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and mix just until the dough starts to come together; you should still see small pieces of butter. Dump the dough onto a work surface and gather it together. Divide in half and form each piece into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar turns light amber, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract, apples and lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated and the apples begin to caramelize, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then stir in the plums.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk of chilled dough to an 8-inch round. Transfer the rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the flour/sugar mixture evenly over the center of the dough rounds. Spoon the apple-plum filling onto the centers, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border up and over the filling, pleating when necessary, leaving the centers exposed. Lightly brush the edges with water and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake the tarts for about 35 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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