Freeform Summer Fruit Tartlets for Two
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: We developed our free-form tart recipe as a quick alternative to pie. For the flakiest pastry, we turned to a French technique in pastry making called fraisage, in which the dough is smeared with the heel of your hand, spreading the butter pieces into long, thin streaks between skeletal layers of flour and water. The dough is then lifted up and back over the fruit (the center of the tart remains exposed) and loosely pleated to allow for shrinkage. The bright summer fruit needed only the simple addition of sugar, 3 to 5 tablespoons depending on the type of fruit.
¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces), plus additional for work surface
¼ teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 – 3 tablespoons water (ice cold)
2 medium peaches, nectarines, apricots, or plums
½ cup berries (about 1/4 dry pint)
2 – 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling
NOTE: The amount of water that the dough will require depends on the ambient humidity; in a dry environment, it may need more water, in a humid environment, less. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped in two sheets of plastic wrap and frozen for up to one week. If at any point the dough becomes soft, sticky, and difficult to work with during rolling, chill it until it becomes workable.
FOR THE DOUGH: In food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine, about three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour, then pulse until texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and butter pieces about the size of small peas remain, six to eight 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over mixture and process 1 second; repeat using 1 teaspoon at a time until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. Empty dough onto work surface; dough will be crumbly (if dough has large dry areas, sprinkle additional 1 teaspoon water over dry areas and incorporate by gently fluffing entire amount of dough with fingers). Using bench scraper, gather dough into rough mound about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide (mound should be perpendicular to edge of counter). Beginning from farthest end, use heel of a hand to smear about one third of dough against work surface away from you. Repeat until all dough has been worked. Using bench scraper, gather dough again and repeat. Dough should now be cohesive. Form dough into 3-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.
- FOR THE FILLING: During last 30 minutes of chilling, prepare fruit. Halve and pit stone fruit and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Gently wash and dry berries. Combine fruit in medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups); set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- To assemble and bake: (If dough has chilled longer than 1 hour and is cold and hard, let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.) Divide dough into 2 equal portions. On large sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll each dough portion into 7 inch round about 3/16 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed. (If dough sticks to parchment, gently loosen and lift sticky area with bench scraper and dust parchment with additional flour.) Stack rounds and refrigerate until cool and firm yet pliant, 15 to 30 minutes (if refrigerated longer and dough is hard and brittle, let stand at room temperature until pliant).
- Sprinkle fruit with sugar and toss gently to combine. Remove dough rounds from refrigerator. Mound one half of fruit in center of each dough round, leaving 1 1/2-inch border around edge. Carefully grasp one edge of dough and fold up outer 1 to 1 1/4 inches over fruit, leaving 1/4-inch area of dough just inside of fold free of fruit. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleated dough to secure, but do not press dough into fruit. Transfer parchment with tart to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fruit and dough. Brush dough with water and sprinkle each tartlet with portion of remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Bake until deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool tartlets on wire rack 10 minutes. Using offset or wide metal spatula, loosen tartlets from parchment and transfer to wire rack; cool until warm, about 20 minutes, or to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Serve.
Photo credit: Steve Klise