I've been baking a lot lately. I didn't intend for this to happen, but with all the delicious fresh fruit hanging out at the farmers market, tarts, pies, and cakes have been entering my mind lately. I see fresh, ripe peaches and before you know it, I'm making a tart.
I love pie, but tart is a perfect way to show off fresh fruit like peaches. Pies can be heavy and sugar-laden. Tarts are lighter and typically contain less sugar, making them a perfect end to any summer meal.
This tart in particular utilizes both fresh blueberries and peaches. You can purchase store-bought crust, or make your own. I offer a simple recipe below. The star of the show is the fruit, so pick ripe peaches (ones that are sweet and juicy) and big, plump blueberries.
Peach and Blueberry Tart with Candied Walnuts
Makes 11-inch tart
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Make the Tart Crust:
In a mixing bowl, stir together both flours, salt, and sugar. Stir in the olive oil and milk. Mix until just combined. Transfer dough to an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan covering the bottom and sides of the pan. Fill in any holes with excess dough.
Make the Tart:
Combine the peaches, blueberries, sugar, flour, orange zest, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the crust. You can try to decoratively arrange the peaches and blueberries around the crust or just leave it more free-form. Dot the tart with the butter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with candied walnuts. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Make the Candied Walnuts:
Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until the sugar is melted and the walnuts are coated in the mixture. Spread the walnuts onto a baking sheet. Cool completely before breaking apart.
Blueberries are making their debut at my local farmers market and I just could not resist picking up a flat of these scrumptious little berries. While I could have made a blueberry buckle or cobbler, I decided to make jam.
But not just any jam. Blueberry Lavender Jam because incidentally, fresh lavender also popped up at the farmer's market recently, and it made perfect sense to add a little something extra to my jam. If you have never worked with fresh or dried lavender, you need to know a couple of things. First, you need to find "culinary grade" lavender. There are a few varieties of lavender but you want the one that will taste the best with food. It's a safe bet that if you find dried lavender in the spice section of the store, then it's culinary grade. If you find fresh lavender, ask the grower or store if it is for culinary purposes.
Second, a little bit of lavender goes a long way. It's a very floral herb and will dominate the flavors of a recipe if you use too much. So, for this recipe, I used 1 teaspoon of fresh lavender and it was enough to give it that light floral flavor but not be overpowering. If using dried lavender, reduce it to 1/2 teaspoon for this recipe.
A quick note about canning: I did not can the jam in the normal way (boiling the filled jars, etc). I chose to make a freezer or refrigerator jam. I filled plastic containers (found in the canning section) and will freeze most of my jam so we can enjoy it through winter. If you want to can the jam, please follow instructions on the box of pectin you are using or go to the Ball website for more information.
Lastly, this recipe is considered a low-sugar jam recipe, so you need to use the appropriate pectin for it. You can find pectin in most supermarkets and low sugar pectin is typically available everywhere.
Blueberry Lavender Jam
Makes about 6 cups
Before you get started on the jam, wash and sanitize the plastic canning containers, funnel, and ladle you will be using to fill the jars. Set aside until ready to use.
Place the blueberries, juice concentrate, pectin, and lavender in a 4 quart saucepan. Stir to combine and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened and the boiling mixture cannot be stirred down, about 5-10 minutes. Depending on the power of your stove, you may need to lower the temperature to medium-low to prevent burning. Once the mixture has thickened, stir in the honey. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Fill the plastic "jars" to the designated fill line or about 1/4 inch from the top. Securely fasten the lids to the top of the containers. Cool to room temperature and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours to set up. Refrigerate the jam for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
The berries are here! The berries are here! The berries are here!
This is what I want to scream each time I visit my local farmer's market. I might get strange looks but I don't care. I love fresh local berries. For the past few weeks we've had the pleasure of eating fresh cherries (my favorite), but now raspberries and blueberries (and other berries) are making their debut. Every time I see lots of fresh berries, I feel the need to bake a pie or tart. With the plethora of fresh berries right now, I will have to find many uses for them since I cannot eat pie every day. Well, I could eat pie every day but I don't think I should do so.
Until I find the time to make jam (lavender blueberry jam is in the works), I decided to bake a pie. I love 3 pies -- Apple pie, Cherry pie, and Mixed berry pie. What I love about this recipe, is that you can use whatever berries you have available. I used blueberries and raspberries for this recipe but you can use blackberries and black raspberries as well. It's up to you.
And ... you need to make a crust. Or you can purchase a ready made pie crust. Even though I won't tell on you (people are busy, I know), I will say that a homemade pie crust is much better than store bought. The recipe for the crust is below.
Mixed Berry Pie
Yield: 1 10-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one pie crust out into a 12-inch circle. Carefully transfer crust to the pie plate. Gently tuck it in to the plate.
Place the berries in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the mixture to the berries. Toss to coat well. Add the orange zest and juice. Toss mixture to combine well. Pour mixture into the pie crust.
Roll out the other pie crust on a lightly floured surface. You can either cut strips to make a lattice design or simply transfer the crust to the pie. If choosing the latter, be sure to cut for slits in the top of the crust (for vent holes). Trim the edges of the crust to make about a 1-inch overhang. Fold the crust under to create a seal with the bottom crust. Brush the top with the heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 25 minutes at 400ºF. Reduce heat to 350ºF and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the filling starts bubbling through and the crust is golden brown.
Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving. The pie is good warm or cold and best served with vanilla ice cream.
Double Pie Crust
Place the white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 10 seconds to combine ingredients. Add the butter; pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the processor motor running, slowly pour in the cold water. Pulse until the mixture starts to come together and form a ball of dough.
Divide the dough half. Flatten each piece slightly. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably up to 2-3 hours. Dough can be made 1-2 days ahead of time.
Going to the local farmer's market is always an adventure for me. So far, growers at my local market have many offerings from basic vegetables (lettuces, onions, radishes) to fruits like strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. I've already had my fill of cherries and strawberries. With the strawberries, we made gelato (recipe coming) and with the cherries, we made a tart (recipe forthcoming) and froze the rest.
But with the raspberries, my daughter wanted to make muffins and I wanted to make scones, so we did both. Why not? Both are equally good and were equally devoured within a day. The scone recipe will be posted separately.
Choose the sweetest, freshest raspberries you can find. I encourage you to find a grower (u-pick farm) or peruse the farmer's market. The raspberries at the store are ok (organic is best), but they are not as sweet and flavorful as the ones you will find locally. In fact, the same goes for any fruit. Local fruit is far superior to the fruit sold in the grocery store, even organic versions.
Raspberry Lemon Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the white whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup white flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, toss the raspberries in the remaining 1/4 cup white flour; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, egg, and lemon zest. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined (do not over mix or make a smooth batter). Carefully fold in the berries.
Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with sugar. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool completely before serving. Store in airtight container.
A clafoutis is an egg custard typically made with cherries. In this version, I used Rainier cherries and blueberries but you can use Bing or sweet cherries instead. Or you can even use plums or blackberries. You know, the sky's the limit!
Serve this with brunch or as a dessert to a nice meal.
Rainier Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly butter an 10-inch pie or quiche dish.
Spread the cherries and blueberries on the bottom of the dish. Whisk together the eggs, half-n-half, mascarpone cheese, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and flour until well combined. Pour the batter over the cherries and blueberries. Sprinkle the top with raw sugar and scatter the butter slices over the top.
Bake until puffed and golden around the edges, about 40 minutes. If the center seems too runny, bake for another 10 minutes or so. Cool for 30 minutes at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold and set. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
If you are looking to entertain some of your closest, dearest friends at some point this spring, you may want to try out this dessert. It's sweet, tart, and beautiful to look at. I mean, who wouldn't want to eat it?
Tart crust is more forgiving than pie pastry. Meaning, if it rips or tears while you are rolling it out, you can fill in the holes with extra pastry dough and no one will know. The pastry dough is soft and pliable and it might be a little frustrating to work with, but it works well in the end and holds up nicely (which is what you want). Now, if you don't want to make your own crust, you can always purchase one at the store. Don't worry, I won't rat you out.
The recipe is done in steps --first, make the lemon curd, then the tart pastry and then put it all together. The lemon curd and tart pastry can be made up to two days ahead of time (keep in the refrigerator). Also, I used an 11-inch tart pan for this. If you have a smaller tart pan, you will have leftover lemon curd cream (oh no!) to use for something else. I'm sure you'll put it to good use. Or you can just eat it. Whichever.
Fresh Berry Lemon Tart
Yield: one 11-inch tart
Remove the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler. This will give you nice long strands of zest. Be sure to remove just the yellow part and not the white (the pith). Place the sugar and zest in a food processor. Pulse the processor several times to break up the lemon zest. Add the butter to the sugar mixture. Process until combined. Add the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks, and salt. Process to combine.
Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan set over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (the mixture should register 170ºF on a thermometer when it is cooked), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass bowl. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes on the counter and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. It will continue to set as it cools.
You can make this by hand with a pastry blender or with a food processor.
By processor: Combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, pour the water through the lid and pulse until the pastry forms a ball in the bowl of the processor. The pastry maybe a little on the wet or soft side. That's ok. Brush your hands with flour and gather the pasty in a ball. Press into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
Fresh Berry Tart
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the tart pan in a baking sheet (this will help keep it steady as you move it to/from the oven).
Roll out the tart pastry on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the pastry with flour, too. It should be rolled out to about a 12-inch circle. If the pastry is tearing and being unmanageable, that's ok. Gather up the pastry and press it into the bottom and sides of the tart pan (cutting off any excess), filling in any gaps or holes with leftover pastry dough.
Once the pastry is covering the inside of the tart pan, prick the bottom with a fork. Line the pastry with foil - make sure it meets the edge of pastry and fill the foil with pie weights, dried beans, or dry rice (I use beans). Be sure you fill the foil to the edges of the pan. This will help prevent the pastry from shrinking down.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the foil and beans (or pie weights). Bake for an additional 12-13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
In a bowl, whip together the heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until the mixture forms soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar. Place the lemon curd in a large bowl. Stir it up to loosen the curd. Add about a 1/4 of the cream mixture to the lemon curd and mix well. Fold in the remaining cream mixture, being sure not to over mix.
Pour the mixture into the tart shell and smooth off the top. Refrigerate the tart for at least 1 hour before decorating the top with berries. When ready, decorate the top with berries and cut into pieces to serve.
Oh my goodness. You know you want some cobbler. I mean, who doesn't?
Cobbler can be made with most fruits or berries. However, peaches, blueberries, and cherries tend to be the most popular ones used. The topping for cobbler is what sets it apart from other fruit desserts. It's a biscuit like batter that is spread on top and baked until golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and you will have some happy campers at your house.
This recipe is an updated version of my great-grandmothers. I know. It seems sacrilege to update great-grandma's recipe but it needed it. In fact, I have a set of her recipes that I'm throwing together in a book (stay tuned for further details).
One note about this recipe:
Choose a large baking dish. While the cherries themselves might fit into a medium size baking dish, once you put the batter on top, there will be some displacement and the filling will start to spill over. So, use a larger baking dish to prevent the spillage.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Make the filling:
In a saucepan, heat the frozen cherries over medium heat until cherries release their juice, about 5 minutes. In a bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch; add to the cherries and mix well. Cook until the mixture boils. Add the vanilla. Turn off the heat and pour mixture into a large baking dish.
Make the topping:
In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the milk; milk until a stiff batter forms. Carefully spoon the mixture over the hot filling.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the topping is cooked through and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
*If you use tart cherries, increase the sugar to 1 1/2 cups.