There’s nothing in the food world that makes my heart go pitter-patter more than a fruit pie. The same applies to tarts, tartlets, tarte tatins, or galettes. The combination of fruit and buttery pie dough just does it for me. Apple, peach, cherry, rhubarb, strawberry, mixed berry, any of them, any time, feed me.
I was excited to try a new tart dough recipe for my Cherry, Blueberry, & Pecan Tart. David Lebovitz’s French Tart Dough recipe is completely different, one might even say opposite, from all the other times I’ve successfully made pie or tart dough. The most common way of making a pastry dough is keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible. It’s the butter bits mixed throughout in this manner that when baked, create tiny little butter pockets and that is what makes for a flaky, tender crust. But in this recipe, you heat the butter and water, mix in the flour, and then press into your tart pan. Unique, to say the least! And yet David Lebovitz, who’s blog I’ve grown to trust (especially in matters pertaining to pastry), says this technique yields a flaky and buttery crust. So though it be opposite of everything I’ve done in the past, I had to try it.
How did it turn out? In some respects, amazing. In others, scary, and in one respect, disappointing (but that part might be my fault). First of all, the amazing: the crust is tender and delicious. I like that it’s lightly sweet. It reminds me more of shortbread cookies than a typical pastry dough. Which I can see working quite well for a number of tarts. The scary: you have to heat up water and butter in the oven, to the point where they’re sputtering and hissing. They’re both near boil, and since water and butter don’t mix, they want to eject each other from the bowl. Which means hot butter splatter coming your way. Yikes. Thank goodness no burns ensued. I feel like there’s a safer way to make this dough, most likely by heating the water and butter separately. The disappointing part: a soggy bottom crust. The side crust were perfect shortbread cookie fingers. The bottom was mush. I now realize that this recipe is for a tart shell that you don’t bake in. It’s more for a custard or fresh fruit tart. I wanted to bake the cherries and blueberries until they just started to soften and until the pecans started to toast. So I’ll have to go back to my tried and true pastry crust recipe for fruit pies.
Would I make it again? Of course! I loved the flavor and texture. I bet I can reduce the the chances of ending up in the burn ward if I heated the water and browned the butter separately from each other. I can handle washing another dirty dish if it means no scars up and down my arms. So I think I will try this recipe again, minorly tweaked. It would be completely benefit the grapefruit curd tart I’m planning for one, fine, delectable day.
So what do you do with a soggy bottom tart with an otherwise fantastic fruit filling? Serve it in ramekins! Scoop the fruit from the bottom crust, add the side crust to the sides with a minor crumble of crust on top, and a bit of cinnamon whipped cream never hurt. The thing I loved once I moved this pie to ramekins was that it was like digging for buried treasure on the beach. The shortbread crust was the sand, the whipped cream was the sea foam washing on the shore, the pecans were bronze coins, and the berries were gemstones—rubies and sapphires—albeit gemstones that yielded and burst with berry flavor when bit into. The best kind of gemstones, IMHO, at least when we’re talking pies.