Friday, May 20, 2011
Rhubarb Raspberry Tart
When I first started this blog in August of 2007, it was a way for me to keep my hands in the flour. I'd left the pastry profession and I missed it. I missed the discipline and the meditation of it, the smells and the sights of it, the way I feel when I open the oven door. So this venue became an indispensable outlet for me. I'd never taken a photo before in my life and I'd never published anything about pastry. I worked quietly for my own growth and inspiration.
As time went on, I also realized that I really enjoyed imparting my love of ingredients and technique to others in a way that challenges the idea that pastry is a difficult or tedious craft. It became a kind of love tonic against fear of caramel or proofing yeast. So it's been an interesting journey for me, to say the least. But wow, was I ever surprised and honored beyond belief last week when I learned I was mentioned in a piece at the ever beautiful Saveur website entitled, "50 More Food Blogs You Should Be Reading." OMG, I'm so, so incredibly delighted. THANK YOU, Saveur. And thank you to all the other amazing blogs out there who keep all of us inspired and hungry for more, week after week, including those of the very generous people who comment here. You are all so unique and you are what makes this crazy thing we do so much fun.
So, on to the pastry!
Rhubarb in just about any form always draws my attention. I love the gorgeous bright hue and the tart explosion of flavor that never lets up. For me, rhubarb pies, jams and compotes are all endlessly tantalizing.
Pastry tarts start to spring up here and there now that it's the season for a grand parade of fresh fruit. In this rendition, I pair rhubarb with raspberries for another level of tartness and add a delicious hit of aromatic fresh ginger to give the whole thing a little energetic lift. Cradled by a fresh and flaky pastry, this flavor combination is really wonderful.
If you’re like me, you have your favorite go-to pastries and must-haves in each season, pastries that must be made when the market spills over with the perfect bounty of spring. Try adding this iteration to your rhubarb favorites and see how quickly it disappears. And to have this bright burst of color on our tables at this point is a complete celebration. Cheers!
- For the pastry dough, the butter and water should be very cold. I cut the butter into pieces and return it to the refrigerator to keep it cold. I put the water in the freezer just before I’m ready to start organizing my ingredients.
- To finish mixing the dough, the method I use is called fraisage, which is simply pressing the heel of your hand into the barely mixed dough and pushing it against the work surface to smear it. Use a bench scraper or metal spatula to scrape up the smeared dough and fold it back on itself. This is a great technique that essentially creates sheets of butter coated in flour, producing flaky layers of buttery dough. As with all pastry doughs, handle gently and be careful not to overmix.
- Chilling the tart dough is important to relax the gluten and allow the moisture to be absorbed by the flour. Also, be sure to chill the tart shell once it's formed. This helps maintain its shape during baking.
- Make a free form galette if you don’t want to fuss with a tart pan. Just be sure there aren’t any cracks in the dough so all the juices don’t run out.
- This pastry should be eaten the same day.
Rhubarb Raspberry Tart
1 1/2 C flour
2 t sugar
1/8 t salt
4 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 C + 2 T cold water
1 1/4 lbs rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
1/4 C + 2 T sugar
1 1/2 t flour
1/2 vanilla bean
1 t freshly grated ginger
zest of 1 lemon
6 oz fresh raspberries
melted butter and sugar for finishing
For the dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and toss thoroughly with your hands to combine. Cut the cold butter into about 28 small diced pieces and add to the flour mixture, tossing to coat each piece. Working quickly to keep the butter cold, take each piece of butter and pinch it to flatten. Keep working and tossing the mixture until all the butter is flattened and each piece is well coated with flour. Some of the larger pieces will break into smaller pieces, which is fine. You want a good mixture of small and large flat pieces of butter.
Add the cold water and mix gently with a fork or your fingers until the dough just starts to come together, tossing until it begins to loosely cohere. Gather the shaggy pieces of dough on a clean work surface. Finish the dough using a motion called fraisage, which is smearing parts of the dough across the work surface with the heel of your hand. Smear the dough, then use a bench scraper or metal spatula to get under the smeared dough, gathering it and folding it back onto itself after each motion. Repeat this process again just about 4 or 5 times until the dough looks like it’s coming together and it feels soft, supple and not sticky. Don't handle it too much. There should be small pieces of butter visible in the dough. Gently pat into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove from the refrigerator and rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper for a few minutes so it can soften a bit to prevent cracking.
Roll the dough out to about an 1/8” thickness, gently lifting and moving it after each roll and keeping the parchment lightly floured as needed. Form the dough to fit a 14” x 4 1/2” tart pan, cutting away the extra dough that can sliced into strips and used to lattice the top of the tart. When you have the desired shape for the tart pan, brush off any excess flour and lift the dough into the pan, easing it into the corners and trimming any excess. Chill the tart shell and the remaining dough for at least 30 minutes.
Wash and stem the rhubarb, making sure to remove all the leafy green parts. Cut the rhubarb into 1/2” pieces and place in a saucepan. Combine the sugar and flour and toss into the rhubarb. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add along with the grated ginger. Cook over medium low heat until fruit is softened but not mushy and the juices are simmering, about 5 - 8 minutes. Stir to keep from scorching. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss the rhubarb mixture with fresh raspberries. Pour the fruit into the cold tart shell and spread evenly. Cut strips from the remaining dough and form a lattice across the top of the tart, pinching the edges to secure. Brush the pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Place the tart on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake the tart for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is lightly browned.