Monday, July 20, 2009

Blueberry Tart with Lemon Curd - the Flaky Crust

Whenever I start a project (and there have been many starts), I get the urge to buy. Supplies, books, magazines...whatever might be applicable. Over the last ten years or so, I've begun to realize that buying stuff does not actually get the job done!

So when I decided to start this bloggety-blog, I immediately searched and McNally Robinson for pastry and baking cookbooks. The good ones all run at $100+. I'm assuming that's because there's a limited market for these types of books, and because of the high cost of producing high-quality, informative illustrations and photographs.

Lately I've been trying to watch my spending more carefully, so after an hour or two of ogling gorgeous cookbooks, I remembered that I already have a wonderful selection. Some bought new, some bought at the Children's Hospital Used Book Sale, some received as gifts - it's quite the little library. The point being, I have more than enough to keep me occupied for several years at least! So I hauled out my Pie and Pastry Bible and looked up 'Blueberry' in the index. When I saw this recipe, I knew it was The One. Lemon is one of my all-time favourite flavours!

(By the way, don't bother trying to find a tart pan with a removable bottom in or around Winkler. I tried Superstore, Canadian Tire, Walmart, and Co-op...nothing.)

This recipe is actually a combination of 3: the pie crust, the blueberry filling, and the
clincher: lemon curd. Rose Levy Beranbaum describes it like this:

"In addition to being delicious, this tart also provides several textural contrasts: a flaky, crunchy crust; creamy lemon filling; and burst-in-the-mouth berry topping. It is also beautiful to behold because though the berries do not cook or begin to break down, they turn dark blue from contact with the hot glaze."

How could I resist?

First, Basic Flaky Pie Crust

My attempts at pie crust generally come out looking ok but tough and chewy. Which is not flaky. So this time around, I'm going to try to follow the recipe to the letter. I don't have a food processor, so I'm using the 'hand method'. (I've also re-written the recipe so that it's shorter; if you want the real thing, along with variations and tips, get the book!)

1) Divide 8 tbsp butter into a 3 tbsp portion and a 5 tbsp portion. Cut each portion into small cubes. Refrigerate the larger, freeze the smaller.
2) Mix 1-1/3 cups all purpose flour, 1/4
tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp baking powder. Freeze in mixing bowl for 30 minutes. Also chill another bowl.
3) Using a pastry cutter and/or fingers, cut/rub the larger portion of butter into the flour mixture.
4) Spoon the mi
xture, together with the smaller portion of butter, into a large resealable bag. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into flakes. (Is this the equivalent of what I've seen chefs on shows do...with the heel of their hand against the counter top? Is one method preferable to the other?)
5) Transfer mixture to chilled bowl. Sprinkle with 2-1/2 tbsp ice water (can add more later if needed) and 1-1/2 tsp cider vinegar. Toss lightly with a spatula. Return mixture to bag.
6) Kneed mixture inside bag until it holds together.
7) Wrap dough with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
8) To roll out and bake, remove pastry from fridge and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
9) And I quote: "Always work quickly so that the dough doesn't have a chance to soften. Use a firm steady pressure to roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick. As the centre tends to be the thickest part, roll from the centre out." etc.
10) Once in the tart pan, trimmed and ready to go, make sure the oven is preheated to 425. Line the dough with parchment paper. Fill with dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes.
11) Lift out parchment with beans and prick crust all over with fork. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until pale golden brown.

Et voila! I'm not so sure it's supposed to shrink quite so violently, but...Stay tuned for the Lemon Curd and final product!

1 comment:

  1. My crusts always shrink too. I'm not sure why. I ought to look it up in one of my million cookbooks...