It has been a while since I have gone through my copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours. With all the berries at the markets and road side stands begging to be bought, this recipe from Dorie's book popped out at me. I have loads of berries in my fridge and I am guilty of letting them go to waste at times. This recipe was a new stretch for me because I had never made pastry cream before, which actually wasn't as difficult as I had predicted. Nor was the process of the tart shell, and with such delicious results, the effort was more than worth it. While I would take a chocolate cake or tart any day over a fruit dessert, this berry tart was perfect for a warm spring evening eaten outside with my hubby. Life is good.
About 1 1/2 cups pastry cream (recipe below)
1 fully baked 9-inch tart crust, homemade or store-bought (recipe below)
2 pints fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or an assortment
1/3 cup red currant jelly
Beat pastry cream with a whisk until it is smooth. Fill crust with enough cream to come almost to edge of rim, and smooth top. Arrange berries in concentric circles over top of tart. If you are using strawberries, cut them in half from top to bottom.
Bring jelly and 1 tablespoon water to a boil in a microwave oven or over heat. Working with a pastry feather or brush, dab each berry with a spot of jelly. If you would like, you can glaze entire surface of tart, including pastry cream that peeks through berries, although you may need more glaze.
For The Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
1 plump, moist vanilla been, split and scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 3 pats
Bring the milk and vanilla bean (pulp and pod) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and allow the milk to infuse for at least 10 minutes or for up to 1 hour.
If the milk has cooled, it will need to be reheated now.
Whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle one-quarter of the hot milk over the yolks. When the yolks are warm, whisk the remainder of the milk into the yolks in a steadier stream; remove and discard the pod (or save it to make vanilla sugar).
Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep at the boil—still whisking energetically—for 1 to 2 minutes before pulling the pan from the heat and pressing the cream through a sieve into the small bowl. Let the cream sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter. Cover the cream with a piece of plastic wrap—press the wrap against the cream—and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. You can speed up the chill by putting the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. (Keeping: Covered tightly with plastic wrap, pastry cream can be refrigerated for 2 days. To smooth the chilled cream, whisk it for a few seconds.)
For the Tart Dough:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons)
very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed—press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).