21 August 2006

Me and my tarty ways

I declared 2005 as the "Year of the Tart" to learn how to make pastry and improve my pie-making skills. I made lots of pies--savoury and sweet ones, double- and single-crusted...most of them were quite edible. Even though most of those pies were made with homemade crusts, I did make some with store-bought puff pastry.

One of my favourite puff pastry tarts is a very simple, rustic combination of peaches and blueberries. Since this is one of the last weeks (if not the last week) for Ontario blueberries, and Ontario peaches are becoming plentiful, this is probably one of the best times to make this dessert.

But don't think that this is a seasonal dish, only to be made when trees and bushes are prime with sweet offerings. Despite the granite-like flesh of imported peaches piled at the grocer's and the frozen blue pellets in the freezer, I enjoy making (and eating) this tart all year round, including in mid-winter. If you decide to make it when fruits are out-of-season, simply add more sugar and oomph up the spicing.

I've changed my usual spicing to take advantage of vanilla, my 2006 theme. Normally, I'd add half a teaspoon of powdered ginger and a good splash of vanilla extract to the fruit, but this version omits the ginger and substitutes split vanilla pods for the extract. You can still use ginger (it is a really nice addition in cooler weather), but I rather like this vanillaed version that has it's own sweet complexity.

I must warn you right now. This is one of my "non-recipes" but I did try to write down everything I do. This is basically one of those dishes that you put a handful of that, a teaspoon of this, give it a taste, add more of this and a bit of that.... It is very flexible--you can replace peaches with apples or pears or a combination and you could put in any sort of berry you like.

Blueberry-peach tart
1 10"x10" sheet of frozen puff pastry
500 g peeled, pitted and sliced peaches (approximately 6)
200g blueberries
3 tbsp brown sugar (packed)
2 tbsp white sugar
1 dspn cornflour
1 vanilla pod

  • Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking tray with parchment paper
  • In a bowl, mix together peaches, blueberries, sugars and cornflour. Set aside.
  • Roll out the pastry on a floured surface--you don't want it too thin, it should just increase it's area by a couple of inches. Place the pastry on the lined baking sheet.
  • Split the vanilla pod into two and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a very sharp knife. Mix the seeds with the fruit. Set aside the pod.
  • Tip the fruit onto the centre of of the pastry. Pull up the sides and start crimping. What you want to do is build a strong wall or a dam. When the fruit bakes, liquid will be released and the pasty will keep it in.
  • Dot the fruit with little blobs of butter and then lay the vanilla pods over the fruit.
  • Bake at 400F for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temp to 375F and bake until the crust is golden brown -- roughly 20 minutes.
  • Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • If you are stuck with winter peaches or your fruit isn't as ripe as you'd like, simply add a bit more sugar.
  • This recipe works well with both fresh and frozen blueberries--use whatever is easiest.
  • And yes, that's one dessertspoon (two teaspoons) of cornflour (cornstarch).



Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, I do something pretty much like this - this, that, taste. Love peaches and blueberries! Good job.

K and S said...

mmm this sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic. We're still in the middle of a bitter winter here though and peaches are not to be seen, so I might have to hold off till they appear at the greengrocers again! Mmm, the anticipation is making me hungry!

Anonymous said...

Just gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

This is lovely, Jasmine - I'm actually not a fan of blueberries so I might substitute it with something else, but your beautiful creation has convinced me that it would turn out great whatever you use :)