I admit I enjoy the detailed work of an elaborate dessert or cake on occasion. I was a fine arts major who couldn’t paint or draw particularly well, but loved being in the midst of all that creativity in the art department. It wasn’t until I found myself in a pastry kitchen that I realized food was the medium that allowed me to express myself. So fussing over gum paste and fondant is relaxing to me. But, there are times I want to create something that is just pure and simple. When flavors are the end all and their natural beauty unadorned.
I’ve been reading A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis. The executive chef from Chez Panisse who has the most enviable career I’ve ever heard of. He spends 6 months of the year cooking at Alice Water’s acclaimed restaurant and the remainder of his time he is in France. Just one chapter in and you can’t help but hate him for having figured out the perfect life. He eloquently describes shopping in the morning at the outdoor produce market and then cooking with his friends while drinking local wines and nibbling on aged cheeses. His entire philosophy is simplicity. In fact, the book’s one downfall for me is that there is no challenge in any of his desserts, they are all simple to a fault. Gorgeous and as delicious as a fresh fig, but where is all of the fussy detail that I often crave.
I want to be David Tanis when I grow up! Well at least I want his life style. In an effort to get closer to that goal I created this ultra simple tart. I live in Minneapolis, not Paris, and there are still patches of snow on the ground. This is a difficult time of year to get ripe fresh fruit. To create something that feels like spring I combined the always reliable granny smith apple with blackberries, on a sheet of homemade puff pastry. I glazed the tart with the most glorious apple blossom honey I’ve ever tasted. A dollop of lightly whipped cream and that is it.
Apple Blossom Blackberry Tart:
1 sheet of puff pastry 1/8-inch think and about 10×15-inches. (Homemade or frozen)
1/2 cup of blackberry or other berry preserves
4 granny smith apples, cut into very thin slices
1/3 cup apple blossom honey, some to brush on the tart before baking and some to coat the berries.
egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water)
sugar for sprinkling the edge of the crust
pint of fresh or frozen blackberries
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
If you are using homemade or frozen puff pastry you will still need to roll the dough out to fit the pan. Don’t roll it any thinner than an 1/8-inch thick. It is important not to roll over the edges or you will seal the layers of the puff pastry and it won’t rise well.
place the puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread a thin layer of the preserves over the dough. Leave about an inch border around the outside edge.
Arrange the apple slices over the preserves. Heat up the honey just to warm it and use a pastry brush to glaze the apple slices with it, reserve the rest for the berries. Brush the edge of the puff pastry with the egg wash and then sprinkle the edge with sugar.
Put the tart into the oven and turn the heat down to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the edge of the tart crust is golden brown and the apples are tender.
While the tart is baking gently heat the remaining honey again and add the blackberries to the pan. Just heat for a moment to coat the berries and to release some of their juices. They shouldn’t be boiled.
Gently whip the cream with the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Serve with the honey coated blackberries and whipped cream.
Last, but certainly not least, the winners of last week’s Le Creuset Stoneware Heart Ramekin giveaway are Maris from In Good Taste and Wynk. Congratulations and let me know what you bake in your new baking dish!