Monday, October 1, 2007

Ambrosia: Pat Wells' Fruit Tart

Having sung the praises of Pat Wells: At Home in Provence, I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a taste of the simple brilliance of this book. I suppose that strictly speaking I'm violating a copyright here so I apologize in advance to the legal community. But I'm not taking any of the credit.

The only adjustment I make to this recipe is that I don't use Wondra, a superfine flour, which she calls for in the cream. I use regular unbleached flour and can't tell the difference.

This recipe is perfect for any berry or stone fruit you have on hand. It's an excellent way to use up Italian prunes if you have, like I do, a neighbor with an abundant tree. With purple figs this recipe is a revelation. It's also very fun because it looks so superfantastically pretty. I use a long rectangular tart pan when I make this and the fruit all lined up looks so artistic. Creates the illusion of hours spent fussing when really this takes absolutely next to no time to whip up.

Pat Wells Fruit Tart
© 1996 by Patricia Wells, Scribner, New York, NY

One 9 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom

The Crust
unsalted butter, for greasing the tart pan
8 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 t. pure almond extract
1/8 t. pure vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt
1- 1/4 c. plus 1 T. unbleached all-purpose flour

2 T. finely ground unblanched almonds

The Cream
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 t. pure almond extract
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
2 T. honey
1 T. unbleached all-purpose flour

About 1-1/2 pounds of fresh berries, stone fruit (pitted & halved, but not peeled) or figs

Confectioners' sugar for garnish (assuming you remember and I rarely do)

Preheat the oven to 375° .

Butter the bottom and sides of the tart pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and with a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the almond and vanilla extracts, salt and flour and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Do not let it form a ball. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered tart pan. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and side of the pan. The dough will be quite thin. (If you are using a small size tart pan, you'll have some dough left over. Press it into a flat round, wrap with plastic wrap and then with foil and freeze for another day).

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, about 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle the almonds on the crust. (This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy and trust me, if you've ground them very fine it won't make for a gritty experience).

While the crust is baking, prepare the cream. In a medium-size bowl combine the cream, egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the four.

Starting just inside the edge of the pre-baked pastry pan, arrange the fruit. If using berries, line them up until the pan is full. If using stone fruit or figs, neatly overlap the halved fruit, cut side up, at a slight angle. If using a round pan, make 2 or 3 concentric circles, working toward the center. Fill the center with one or two halves of the fruit.

Pour the cream evenly over the fruit. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and pastry is a deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving.


Nicole said...

Suggestions for an eggless version? I love that cookbook too.

laurelmoons said...

Syd here...

It looks scrumptious! What size long-skinny-rectangular pan do you use, and is it filled by a single recipe for a nine-inch tart pan?

Not that I have either one. But you never can tell when the inspiration will strike.

As it struck when I read the blog about the cookbook, and then went and ordered it. ***sigh***

Lorraine said...

Golly, Nicole, I'd think you'd be the expert in that department...

My long-skinny-rectangular pan, Syd, is about 13x5. It's superfantastic. And the dough usually makes enough to fill that and then some.

And trust, you'll be sighing when you get the book, and for all the right reasons.

Anonymous said...

Very artsy tartsy m'dear.

laurelmoons said...

Oh, and I keep forgetting to ask--will we be getting the recipe for the daube you said was on the menu during the recent multiparty weekend?

Lorraine said...

'Deed it is, Hat.

Lorraine said...

And yes, Syd, I'll get that daube recipe up for you because it is whacky crazy koo-koo and you'll love it.