Summer has barreled in full force. It sat its big luxurious bottom down at the Hollywood Farmers Market and everywhere I turned this morning I saw the fruit of its labor. And I do mean fruit. Most notably stone fruit. Peaches, nectarines, plums and all those crazy cross-breeds with names that make you smile– pluots, plumcots and apriums, oh my!
These are the boisterous fruit of summer, I can hear them screaming my name way up here in the hills where I live. If you ask me these sweet dreams don’t need to throw stones to start a riot. So after I have had my fill of them out of hand, I try and take them to the next level by taming their impetuous nature the best I can. I do this with a tart.
Save the quieter fruit like apples and cherries for a big natured pie. When summer fruit lets loose its rebel yell I tame it with the most basic of elements. Because the components of a great fruit tart are simple: dough, filling, fruit and glaze. The trick is to keep everything balanced, letting nothing stand too far above the others. This way tarts are able to delicately express the quieter side of even the loudest of summer fruit. Once you learn the fundamentals there is no stopping you.
Today’s tart was adapted from a recipe in the cookbook, Seasons in the Wine Country. But there is really no recipe necessary. You could easily use your favorite pastry recipe for the shell. And though nothing is as good as handmade, store bought lemon curd could be used in a pinch.
The fruit is of course served raw and fresh. It needs so little when it’s this damn good. Simply slice the fruit and toss it in a scant bit of lemon juice to keep it from getting brown. Follow your instincts when arranging the slices on top of the lemon curd. Be neat and symmetrical, or just toss them on top in a tumultuous jumble. I chose to follow my muse somewhere in between, with a few focused areas of concentric semi-circles slightly overlapped.
My version is all stone fruit, in as many varieties as I could get my hands on. But you could also mix in berries if you like. It just depends which of the boisterous fruit of summer is calling to you the loudest.
- 1 c butter, cut into cubes
- 1 c granulated sugar
- salt, as needed
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
- ice water, as needed
- 3 T apricot jam
- 2 large eggs
- 2 t fresh lemon zest
- 3/4 c fresh lemon juice
- 2 lb stone fruit, pitted and sliced (tossed in a bit of lemon juice if done in advance of serving)
- lemon verbena or mint, as garnish (optional)
Make the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together until smooth and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down once or twice as needed. Add 1 egg yolk and vanilla; mix until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the flour all at once and mix until barely blended, about 1 minute. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time while the mixer is running until the dough clumps together. Stop machine.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, gently pat into a 1-inch thick disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow the chilled dough to soften to the point that an indent is easily made with your finger, about 10 minutes. Place the disc on a lightly floured surface, dust it and the roller with a small amount of flour. Roll the dough out to about a 12-inch circle. Fold the dough over the roller and carefully move it to a tart pan pressing it into place. Trim off the excess. Place in the freezer 10 minutes to chill.
Remove the tart shell from the freezer and use a fork to poke holes along the bottom. Line the shell with parchment cut to size and add enough beans or pie weights to fill one-third the way up. Bake until edges are looking dry, about 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the weights and parchment. Return the shell to the oven and bake until golden, about 10 more minutes. Let the shell cool completely at room temperature.
Make the glaze: In s small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the jam and 2 tablespoons water to create a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and set aside at room temperature.
Make the lemon curd: In a small saucepan (off heat), whisk together eggs, remaining 2 egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice lemon zest, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Place pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof flexible spatula, until lemon curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (or spatula) and to hold a clear trail when you run your finger through it; about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining 1/2 cup butter a cube at a time, stirring all along until incorporated.
Pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into cooled crust. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate tart until filling is firm, at least one hour.
When ready to serve, unmold the tart and top with the sliced stone fruit in whatever arrangement you like. Brush with glaze and garnish with lemon verbena or mint leaves.