Last week at the Farmer’s Market a berry seller tried to tell us that the astronomic price of blueberries has been that way for the past five years. I hate to break that precious-precious fictional memory, but we purchased berries from their stall last year for half the price they are today. That would be what we call fuzzy math applied to fuzzy berries since many of them were slightly past their prime.
But all is not lost. The other day I found a giant container of reasonably good-looking blueberries at the grocery that cost just slightly less than a mortgage. Too good to pass up, but maybe not anywhere near perfect. But decent enough berries if paired with say, pastry cream and a little bit of apricot jam. In a tart shell.
The pastry cream is actually vanilla pudding that is ridiculously easy to make. It contains vanilla bean paste which makes it look and taste a little more elegant. It’s the vanilla flecks that elevate the pudding to better than pudding.
The apricot jam, warmed and strained is brushed on each layer of berries as they are piled on which serves a dual purpose. First it helps sweeten berries that aren’t ever going to be ripe and it gives it a nice layered flavor. And second, most importantly, the jam holds everything pretty much in place so that when you move the tart or cut it into servings there shouldn’t be a huge berry roll-a-thon.
This is another great summer dessert that you can put together rather quickly if all the components are waiting in the wings. The pastry cream pudding can be made a day or two ahead of time and tastes even better as the flavors develop.
The tart crust should probably be baked the same day as served. But you can roll the dough, place it in the tart pan and refrigerate (covered) overnight before baking. Then the day you serve the tart, bake the shell, let it cool – fill with the pastry cream pudding, pile on the berries and jam. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled. Make one large or several small tarts – your choice. The method is exactly the same.
To make this even more festive (think 4th of July) add a small amount of rogue raspberries to the blueberries to make it a red, white and blue tart.
Maybe next year instead of a container of little tomatoes I’ll grow a blueberry or two on my postage stamp patio. Or go in search of the dude with a trunk full of produce.
|Blueberry Pastry Cream Tart, Gluten Free||
- 300 grams AP GF flour (150 grams superfine brown rice flour, 75 grams each superfine white rice flour and tapioca starch/flour) (2⅓ cups)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 115 grams unsalted butter, chilled (1 stick)
- 40 grams cream cheese, chilled (3 tablespoons)
- 45 grams solid Spectrum Vegetable Shortening (3 tablespoons)
- 80-100 grams ice-cold water (1/3 to ½ cup)
- 4 tablespoons corn starch
- 732 grams whole milk (3 cups)
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 560 grams fresh blueberries (about 4 cups)
- 150 grams good quality Apricot Preserves, heated, strained and slightly warm for brushing (1/2 13 oz. jar)
- In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour with sugar and salt. Pulse once. Cube chilled butter and cream cheese and add to food processor bowl. Add shortening. Pulse a few times until mixture is like ragged coarse peas. While processor is running, add water to chute just until a ragged ball forms. Place on plastic wrap and remove blade carefully. Gather dough and form into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours. Save one disk for another pie or tart or freeze. Remove one disk and bring to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before rolling. Using plastic wrap on the bottom and top, dusted with starch, roll dough until it is slightly bigger than a tart pan. Peel off plastic from top. Turn dough upside down and place in tart pan while peeling off plastic. Try to not stretch or stress the dough as you push it into the pan. Push into pan to fit the form and remove excess dough. Chill dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes before baking. Or wrap tart carefully and refrigerate overnight before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350. Set chilled tart dough pan on baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Check tart about 15 minutes into baking time and if there are cracks forming, use some leftover dough to patch. It’s common that it might shrink so saving some dough to make patches is always a good thing. Cool thoroughly before filling.
- Whisk yolks until smooth. Add cornstarch and ½ cup milk to yolks and whisk to combine. Set aside for two minutes.
- Whisk the egg mixture and strain into medium saucepan to remove any stray lumps. Add remaining milk and sugar to the saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens and just starts to simmer/boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla bean paste, stir. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
- Make sure berries are dry. Heat apricot preserves in a microwave safe container until bubbling, about 40-50 seconds. Strain into a small bowl. Cool slightly. It will only brush smoothly and easily while quite warm, so you might have to reheat it as you pile on the layers.
- Fill tart with vanilla pastry pudding about ⅔ full. Place berries in an interesting pattern on top. Brush with jam. Pile on more berries so it looks generously filled. Brush on more jam. Keep making layers until the berries are gone.
- Refrigerate until serving time.