By Cat, May, 2009 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Includes: 1. Plum & Berry Mini Rustic Tarts
Tarts are the ancestor of American pies. French tarte are very sophisticated (see Tarte aux Poires for an example); Italian Crostata and French Galettes are rather rustic and homespun. (Crostata/Galette are basically the same, just a different name in different language). But from one extreme to the other, and also in-between, they are simply delicious.
Fancy French tarts are formed, typically, by pressing a crumb crust (like Pastry Brisée) or a short crust (like Pastry Sucrée) into a tart or quiche pan. Fillings may include fruits, nuts and even vegetables, and may also include custard or other creamy puddings.
Rustic tarts are formed by rolling out a rich pastry (like Pasta Frolla or Pastry Sucrée), although the American Standard Pie Crust can also be used; arranging the mixture of fruit, starch and sweetener on top, leaving about 2″ exposed pastry all around, then carefully folding that exposed pastry over the filling, and then baking. Small, single-serving tarts make wonderful treats for packing in a lunch bag; larger, multiple-serving tarts are a great presentation at a picnic or informal buffet party.
The rustic tarts do not require a pie pan for baking, though I find that forming and baking the tart in the pan with its slanted sides is easier than forming it on a flat baking sheet, and helps keep the tart’s juices from spreading out and burning.
After testing, I find that my favorite pastry for rustic tarts tea the rich short crusts (Pasta Frolla (Italian), Pastry Sucrée (French) and Galette Rustic Tart Pastry (French); all of these use egg instead of, or in addition to, water to hold the pastry together. The Crostata Rustic Tart Pastry (Italian) is basically a standard American Pie Crust with sugar added, and just doesn’t work as well as the more authentic European pastries.
Plum-Berry Mini Tarts
This wonderful recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, August 2009 issue (1). These tarts are more like Rustic tarts than fancy French Tarts, especially in their construction.
I’ve chosen not to use the original recipe’s pie crust because it uses a canola oil (in combination with butter) to reduce saturated fat content. I strongly object to such shenanigans for several reasons. First, this fear of natural saturated fats such as butter is unfounded; second, most canola oil comes from GMO canola; and third, canola is a type of rape plant, which is toxic. True, canola has been bred to reduce the amount of the toxin, but I still believe we were not intended to eat this plant. (See below my adapted recipe for the original crust recipe)
If you want to use an American-style crust instead of a rich short pastry, I recommend my American Standard Pie Crust or Yogurt Pie Crust II for a 2-crust 9″ pie (for the right quantity of dough), adding 1 Tbsp sugar with the flour. I’m also experimenting with crusts made from soaked flour, such as the Yogurt dough made from Wheat or Spelt.
Makes 6 tarts.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- Pie Crust for two-crust pie (9″), or 1 ½ recipes of Rich Short Crust Pastry (Sucrèe or Frolla)
- ¼ cup apricot, cherry, or raspberry spreadable fruit or preserves
- 3 fresh plums
- 1 cup fresh blackberries and/or raspberries
- 1 Tbsp raw milk
- 1 oz semisoft goat cheese (such as chevre), crumbled
- 2 Tbsp raw honey
- medium bowl
- 1 or 2 baking sheets
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper; set aside.
- Prepare pastry; divide into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. Roll each (with flour-dusted rolling pin) to a 6″ circle on lightly floured board. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between rounds (OK if some laps over edge of baking sheet).
- Wash, halve, & pit plums. Cut into thin wedges. Gently wash and drain berries.
- Spoon spreadable fruit on pastry rounds to make a 2-inch circle in center. Top with plums and berries, leaving 2-inches of pastry edge. Fold and pleat pastry over filling. Brush crust with milk.
- Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until filling is bubbly and fruit is tender, covering with foil the last 10 minutes of baking. Cool slightly on baking sheet or rack. Sprinkle cheese & drizzle honey. Serve warm.
Original crust recipe (not recommended)
⅓ cup canola oil and ¼ cup melted butter, mixed, then frozen. 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 Tbsp powdered sugar, ½ tsp salt whisked together; cut in frozen oil/butter, then 5 – 6 Tbsp ice cold water. Form into a ball; let rest before rolling; or wrap ball in waxed paper and refrigerate up to 24 hours, then warm on counter until workable, before rolling.
- Better Homes and Gardens magazine, August 2009 issue