This is what my fruit bowl looked like yesterday – a mélange of fall fruits, ripe and ready for the taking. If you live in or near New York City you know that yesterday was the first cold, fall day. It was also raining. The perfect Sunday to get in the kitchen and crank up my oven.
While making something savory is, in my opinion, more practical than making something sweet, I couldn’t help staring down those fruits and imagining them baking in a pastry crust. I turned to my trusty source for all things dessert, David Lebovitz, for some general guidance. Wouldn’t you know one of his last posts was on a harvest tart, much like the one I had in mind.
I call this a rustic tart because it’s not fussy and not meant to look perfect, like those fruit tarts you see in a bakery case. You quickly whip up the tart dough with nothing more than good cold butter, flour, water, and a pinch of salt. And fill it with whatever fruits you have on hand. I filled mine with Honeycrisp apples, grapes, and two different varieties of plums. (There was no room left for the pears!) I added a handful of hazelnuts, and drizzled a custard-like filling of egg and thick, whole-milk yogurt. (Lebovitz’s recipe called for crème fraîche, which I didn’t have on hand and couldn’t find within a few block radius in my neighborhood.) You roll out the dough larger than the circumference of your pie dish so that the edges can then be folded over the fruit filling just enough to leave some of the center exposed.
Maybe I can get used to this cold weather again.
Rustic Fall Tart
adapted from Kate Hill of Kitchen at Camont (via David Lebovitz)
For the dough
2 c all purpose flour
3/4 whole wheat pastry flour
pinch of salt
9 ounces unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs
3-4 tbsp water
For the filling
2 lb apples, peeled and cored (approx. 4 large apples)
4 plums, any variety
1 small bunch grapes, stemmed
1/4 c sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
Handful of hazelnuts
1 tbsp brandy or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c crème fraîche or thick, plain yogurt
1 large egg
1. Make the dough: in a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and mixing with your hands or a pastry blender, combine with the four mixture until it’s in small pieces.
2. Add an egg and the water and mix until the dough holds together. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 18 inches in diameter. Transfer to a deep pie dish; the edges should hang over the sides quite a bit.
3. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl then brush the insides of the dough with the egg.
4. Prepare the filling: slice the apples into eighths and the plums into quarters. Mix them together with the grapes, sugar, brandy or vanilla, and transfer the filling to the tart dough. Scatter the hazelnuts on top of the fruit.
5. In a small bowl, mix the crème fraîche or yogurt with the egg and pour it over the fruit and nuts. Line the edges of the dough and cover the fruit. Brush the top of the dough with a mixture of egg wash and butter then sprinkle with a little sugar.
6. Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake at 425 F for one hour, until the top of the dough is browned and the fruit is thoroughly cooked. You can test by placing a knife in the fruit and making sure it goes right through. If, before the hour is up, the crust starts to turn dark brown you can tent with foil about halfway through.
7. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool before serving. Serve on its own, with crème fraîche, vanilla ice cream, or homemade whipped cream.