Free Form Fruit Tart


  === DOUGH ===
1 1/4 cups All-purpose bleached flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Baking powder
7 tablespoons Cold unsalted butter
1  Egg
1 tablespoon Water

  === EASY PASTRY CREAM ===
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons All-purpose bleached flour
1 pinch Salt
3/4 cup Milk
1 whole Egg
1  Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Soft unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Orange liqueur or Kirsch

To make the tart dough:

To mix the dough in the food processor, place flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in work bowl fitted with metal blade.  Pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Cut butter into 7 or 8 pieces and add to work bowl.  Pulse about 12 to 15 times, until mixture is reduced to a fine powder, do not allow to become pasty.  Add egg and continue to pulse until dough forms a ball.  Remove dough from work bowl to lightly floured work surface and pat dough into a 5-inch disk.  Use immediately, or wrap in plastic and chill until firm before using.

To make a free-form tart crust, roll dough to a 12-inch disk and transfer it to a parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet or the back of a jelly-roll pan.  Using a plate or cardboard disk as a pattern, trim the dough to an even 12-inch diameter.  Fold under about 1/2-inch of dough at the edge of the disk of dough, then flute the edge as if it were a pie, to make the
edge stand up (use the thumb and index finger of one hand on the outside of the tart shell and the index finger of the other hand on the inside and pinch gently from the outside while pressing lightly from the inside) repeat all around the edge of the crust.  Pierce the dough with a fork before baking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set a rack in the middle level.  Place pan in oven and lower heat to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 20 minutes, checking once or twice.  When baked, remove pan from oven to a rack to cool.

To make the easy pastry cream:

Combine sugar, flour and salt in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart non-reactive saucepan. Stir with a small whisk to mix.  Whisk in milk, then egg and yolk.  Place over low heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream thickens and comes to a boil.  Allow to boil 10 or 15 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter.  Scrape the pastry cream into a non-reactive bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.  Immediately before using pastry cream, stir in optional liqueur.

Filling the shell:

Fruit:  Any fruit normally served uncooked will be perfect in this type of a tart.  Try to avoid apples, pears, bananas, peaches and apricots because they discolor, even when glazed.

Best fruits to use and how to prepare them:

Strawberries:  Rinse, hull and halve.

Raspberries:  Pick over just before using.

Blueberries:  Rrinse and dry on pan lined with paper towels.

Blackberries, etc:  Rinse and dry on pan lined with paper towels.

Kiwi:  Peel, halve and slice.

Orange:  Peel, halve and slice.

Seedless grapes:  Stem, rise and halve if large.

Mango or Papaya:  Peel, seed, slice.

First, spread pastry cream evenly on bottom of crust.  Arrange fruit in overlapping concentric rows, beginning at outside and working in toward center.

For a “fruit salad” tart, toss fruit in a bowl (add a drop of Kirsch, if you wish), then pile fruit in on pastry cream in tart shell.  You’ll need about 6 cups of fruit for a 10-inch tart shell.

Glazes:  Combine 1/2 cup apple jelly, 1/2 cup apricot preserves and 1 tablespoon water or liqueur in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often.  Strain into another pan and return to a boil.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then gently brush on fruit.  If you strain the glaze carefully, you may also use a small spay bottle to apply it.  If tart is mostly red fruit, use currant jelly and strawberry or raspberry preserves.

Toasted Sliced Almonds:  Edge the crust with these.  Toast almonds at 350 degrees on a jelly roll pan, stirring often.  Cool and sprinkle on fruit at edge of tart.  Dust almonds lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

Pistachios:  Bring pistachios to a boil in a large pan of water.  Drain and rub in a towel to loosen skins.  Separate pistachios from skins.  Dry blanched pistachios 5 minutes at 325 degrees, being careful they do not color.  Chop coarsely and sprinkle on fruit at edge of crust.  DO NOT dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Confectioners’ Sugar:  If fruit is not glazed, dust heavily with confectioners’ sugar immediately before serving.

Source:  Nick Malgieri

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