Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fruit Tart

July 4, 2009 was the first time we made a fruit tart. We really, really liked the tart, so we made it again this year. And we again really, really liked it, so last night, as we finished the last bit of fruit tart, we decided that every July 4, we will make this fruit tart.

Fruit Tart was on my mind not just because of July 4, and not just because we had a lovely fruit tart at Piccolo Forno in June, but also because recently, Marzipan blogged about a Fresh Fruit Tart. Her tart is gorgeous, the fruit beautifully and artfully arranged, so aesthetically appealing. An outer ring of blueberries & raspberries, then a ring of strawberries all facing the same way (pointy ends facing out), then a ring of blackberries, a ring of kiwi, a ring of raspberries, and in the very center, a single strawberry slice surrounded by a blueberry ring. Her tart crust is a pate sucree and her filling a lemon curd.

Our fruit tart is a shortbread crust with a vanilla cream filling and topped with strawberries, blueberries, and cherries. Both the crust and the filling recipes are from The Joy of Cooking.

The crust is a shortbread crust with some grated lemon zest for an extra nice, bright flavor:Saturday night, I thought our crust had baked too long & I was disappointed in the tart crust's appearance. It looked too brown on the sides and in parts of the bottom. SP thought it was fine and that I was being silly. When we ate the tart, the crust was fine in terms of taste (it was not burnt, it was not dry) BUT it did stick even though it's a non-stick tart pan. We let it cool in the tart pan and did not try to remove the removable tart bottom until we put it together Sunday evening. I couldn't get the tart to lift out. We ended up tapping on the sides, turning it upside down and tapping on the bottom, and finally SP gave it a quick punch and it lifted out, albeit with a bit of the sides left behind, stuck in the grooved tart ring. So in the end, I think baking it for a few minutes less would have been better because I think it would not have stuck then. I also might butter the sides of the pan a bit next time.

On to the filling. The filling is a vanilla cream filling - mmm vanilla bean simmering in milk: And then whisked with some eggs, flour, and cornstarch.We put the cream in a small plastic container, pressed plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream, and put it in the refrigerator.Since we assembled our tart right before serving it, I didn't 'seal' the crust bottom with a jam. Usually I am in charge of putting the fruit on top of the tart, and I always want to make a pretty pattern. But that takes time and patience. After I placed the first few sliced berries on top, SP started hovering, peering over my shoulder, checking my progress, willing me to work faster, and frankly, making me nervous. Then, from my point of view, SP started to lose patience with my painstakingly slow separating of strawberry slices and gently placing them on the tart, trying to evenly space them.

Pretty soon, he wanted to 'help' so that it would be ready faster. I got annoyed with him for not letting me take my time to make a pretty tart for a pretty photo, and then I got annoyed because he had distracted me enough that, instead of my berry slices being fat end out, they had become pointy end out, which ruined the pretty look - the outer ring of strawberry slices was not uniform. At that point there was no hope of salvaging it and making it pretty, so I got frustrated and more annoyed and started slapping fruit on any which way. The extreme heat of July 4 and my consumption of much wine weren't helping my patient, painstaking fruit placement either (or my not so patient, not so painstaking fruit placement).

So what you see at the top of this post is what our guests got!

It tasted fine, it just didn't look like a work of art, but I suppose artful food is not necessary.

There's always next year for a pretty tart... SP can help make the individual parts next year, but he is banned from the kitchen when I put my fruit on top!

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