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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Fruit and Berry Tart

Shortbread crust, almond cream with summer peaches, blueberries and pomegranate!

I have very fond memories of summer vacation travel with my family.  We were campers and it was a wonderful way to discover North America.  We travelled throughout the United States and Canada and we came across some wonderful places.  A lot of time was spent on the road and although it seemed long at times, my parents made sure we stopped regularly to discover small towns and local treasures.  One of the highlights of travelling at this time of year was coming upon a farmer who had set up a road side stand to sell his fresh fruits and vegetables.  The fresh peaches were always a hit and did not last long.  Whenever I see baskets of peaches at the market, it brings back these wonderful memories.

I have been wanting to try this crust for a pie for a long time.  It is the same recipe I use for my whipped shortbread.  The almond cream adds a creamy textures but this would also be excellent with a lemon curd or pastry cream (to be added after the crust is cooked).  The choice of fruit and berries is up to you.  I used seasonal peaches that are at their very best right now, wild Lac St-Jean blueberries and pomegranate for acidity and colour.  The peaches were cooked to set with the almond cream and the small berries added once the pie had cooled.    You can also just cook the almond cream and add your favourite combination of fresh berries on top after the pie has cooled.  The crust was a great hit and had the texture and rich buttery taste I was looking for.  I will use it again for other tarts in the future.  Enjoy!

You will need:  for one 13 X 4" (35 X 11 cm) rectangular pie or one 9" (23cm) round pie

For the crust:
  • 1 cup (220g) of salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (35g) of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) of vanilla extract
  • 11/2 cups (200g) of white flour
  • 1/4 cup (30g) of cornstarch

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C) and place rack in centre of oven;
  2. Cream the butter (1 cup - 220g) and icing sugar (1/3 cup - 35g) together using a mixer for about 3 minutes at medium speed;
  3. Add the vanilla extract (1 tsp - 5ml), flour (1 1/2 cups - 200g) and cornstarch (1/4 cup - 30g) and mix until well combined;
  4. Generously butter your pie plate and press crust down into it evenly using your fingers - soaking your fingers in water will help with this (this is a thick crust);
  5. Pre-bake for 10-12 minutes, allow to cool.
While the crust is baking, prepare the almond cream:
  • 1/4 cup (60g) of salted butter, quite soft
  • 1/4 cup (50g) of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup (60g) of ground almonds
  • 1 tsp (5ml) of vanilla extract

This was my original decor but it took too long and the pie needed much more fruit - easier to just pile the berries on top - delicious!
  1. Blend all ingredients together using whisk or mixer until well combined and smooth;
  2. Distribute evenly into pre-baked pie crust;
  3. If you are using cooked fruit (peaches, apples, pears, etc), peel and slice them, arrange and press down gently into the almond cream
  4. Cook the pie in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes (325°F - 160°C);
  5. Allow to cool and cover with choice of fresh berries (small berries should not be cooked as they will release too much water and lose their shape);
  6. If you would like to use pomegranate, slice it in half and tap the rounded side firmly to release the seeds.
  7. Serve the same day and refrigerate any leftovers.
Cooked pie with peaches now ready for lots of berries

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