Although Spring officially started on March 20th at 7:02am, the weather here on the East Coast has not been cooperating until this week. Today the sun is out, it is 60 degrees outside, and I refuse to put on any type of down jacket until next Fall.
My chronic sweet tooth likes to mark each new season with my favorite dessert. This year’s Spring-themed dessert is a freeform fruit tart, which is surprisingly easy to make. I usually use seasonal fruit or, to make it even easier, whatever I have in my fridge. Any type of berries, peaches, or pears will work fine. Today I have strawberries and blueberries.
- First you need to find a pastry dough recipe. My favorite freeform tart recipe is on the Cooks Illustrated website. I like their baking recipes because they provide the helpful tips necessary to get the best results. Since you can’t view their recipes without a subscription, another source for a tart recipe is Cooking Light’s Tart aux Pommes (Apple Tart). The dough recipe has the same ingredients but without the useful tips.
- After you have found and prepared a dough recipe, you can start rolling it out into a circle. The great thing about freeform tarts is that they don’t have to be perfect. As long as the fruit fits in the middle and there is room for the dough to partially fold over the fruit, it shouldn’t matter if the circle is a little misshapen. One thing to be careful of is not to roll the dough out too much. If the dough gets too thin, then the juice from the fruit will pour out during baking and cause an unpleasant burning smell in your kitchen.
- For the filling, recipes typically tell you to use about a pound of berries. I am not religious about the proportions for the berries because every time I am, the dough never fits over the fruit. I usually use one carton of strawberries and one carton of blueberries. Add anywhere from three to five tablespoons of sugar to your fruit. The amount of sugar depends on how sweet you want the tart to be as well as how much fruit you are using. If I am short on berries, then I will only add about three tablespoons.
- When the dough is rolled out, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pour the fruit onto the center of the dough. Pull the ends of the dough up and fold it over the edge of the fruit. When you are finished folding the dough over the fruit, brush it with a little water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the tart at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes.
The best thing about the freeform tart is that it’s okay if it is imperfect. It is not like baking a cake, cookies, or cupcakes where every measurement and step has to be done exactly as the directions instruct. I like to have some fun with it and be creative with my mistakes. If I am having an off day and can’t roll out my dough in a shape even remotely resembling a circle, I make mini-tarts using a small dessert plate to cut out circles. The folding instructions and baking time is the same, and they are fun for when you have guests over.
What are some of your Spring time treats?