I thought I’d try a Blueberry Pizza because blueberry season is in full swing here in Southern California, but if you live further North or in other parts of the country blueberry season may soon be starting. I thought it was time (once again) to let Grumpy Greg out of his cage just to let you know a thing or two about blueberries.
It’s not that I dislike blueberries. In fact blueberries are perhaps may favorite berry of all. Especially when they are served raw or at least very simply.
But I’ll be honest– to me blueberries are best when they’re understated. That’s because blueberries have a subtle and complex sweetness. That sweetness is best complimented when paired with something unexpected and less sweet than the berry itself. Vanilla is the perfect example. It’s why the blueberry really shines when served on top vanilla ice cream. Blueberries and butter are simply divine together. They are perfect when judiciously tossed into the lightly sweetened batter of a good muffin recipe.
Blueberries do not shine as well when they are cooked with too much cornstarch and sugar. This is a rather common occurrence. Grumpy Greg has shot more than one overly rambunctious pie-maker the evil eye when presented with a 4‑inch tall piece of pie. I know you’ve seen those pies. They seem very impressive at first glance. But in reality they’re a nearly black gelatinous mess– so sweet that you can’t even taste the berry. Besides, the point of a good pie is to find the balance of pastry to filling. Every pie has its own balance, but when it comes to blueberries more is not more. More is a mess.
So here’s the dilemma. Blueberries shine when sitting next to something that highlights their quiet flavor, such as buttery extra rich shortbread or pastry. So pie makes sense, right?
Wrong. I prefer either a nice, crispy, slightly salty crumble, or a buttery bread topping as in a Brown Betty. Or, as I hope to prove today, in this flat-crusted free-form tart. I suppose this tart may be more accurately described as a blueberry pizza. Because the secret to success is just the same as pizza. The topping (in this case blueberries) is designed to compliment the crust. My version is made with an Extra Rich Short Short Pastry. The kind with plenty of butter. The recipe is from my book Savory Pies. It comes together very easily in the food processor.
Roll the dough out rather thin, if you can. It can be a circle, square or whatever shape you choose (or your rolling pin chooses for you). It doesn’t really matter. It’s up to you how precious do you want this tart to be.
Next spread out the berries and their macerated juices right on top the dough. I don’t bother turning or rolling the edges. I don’t care where the juices flow because I’m after a crisp crust. Call it rustic if you like. But to me it’s the perfect ratio of sweet, salty and rich. The hint of vanilla brings it home.
Oh, and another bonus to the flat tart is that you can cut it with a pizza wheel. GREG