This fruit tart with homemade puff pastry is made with nothing more than ripe pluots (apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, any other stone fruit or berries will also do), lemon zested sugar and a sheet of puff pastry. Super elegant in its simplicity. The tart is from Rory O’Connell’s new book, Cook Well Eat Well. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting him during my epic tour of Ireland last week, hosted by Kerrygold butter. More to come about that trip, but let me back up a minute to 1998, when I was working at an Irish restaurant in Minneapolis, The Local. It was an Irish pub on one side and fine dining on the other, with a kitchen run by the James Beard Nominated chef, Steven Brown. I was the pastry chef and knew a lot about baking, but nothing of Irish food. I went to the book store and bought The Ballymaloe Cookbook by Myrtle Allen, published in 1977. That cookbook was by my salvation and influenced nearly every dessert I created in the kitchen that year. Last week I went to Ballymaloe and met Myrtle Allen’s children, Fern and Darina, who took over the restaurant and created a cookery school with Darina’s brother, Rory. I am not typically one to fan-girl over celebrities, but being in the presence of these folks was a dream come true. You can see pictures from my visit to the Ballymaloe cookery school, where Darina gave us a spirited and brisk (meaning I couldn’t keep up with her) tour of the exquisite gardens, farm and school. Darina is like the Alice Waters of Ireland and has created the Irish food scene, by educating just about every chef in the country and beyond. If you are at all interested in taking cooking classes as an enthusiast of home cooking or potential professional, I couldn’t recommend this experience more highly. Here is a link to the school!
After our tour of Ballymaloe, we settled in for a cooking class with Rory. Not only is he an accomplished chef, a TV personality and a terrific teacher, but he is one of the most charming and lovely people I have ever met. This happens to be true for everyone we met on our journey through the countryside of Ireland and in Dublin. What a welcoming and generous people. Rory made us several dishes, all quite simple, made with local, fresh ingredients and absolutely delicious. He also gave us a copy of his new book, which is where I found this Fruit Tart with Homemade Puff Pastry. I don’t always make my own puff pastry, but it really is worlds above the store bought and not difficult to make, if you have a decent amount of time to devote to it. I will show you how in my Instagram video or you can attend the cookery school in Ballymaloe! Rory would have walked through the gorgeous gardens to pick perfectly ripe fruit, but I had to settle for what’s available in my local farmers market or at the grocery. I went with pluots, because they were beautiful and ripe. They are a combination of plums and apricots; the flavor is sweet, but also tangy, and they are JUICY. Depending on the fruit you use, you can increase or decrease the sugar.
The puff pastry was made with Kerrygold Unsalted Butter. This is a recipe that is four ingredients, flour, salt, water and lots of butter, so use a butter you’re in love with. I walked in the emerald fields, over looking the sea with the cows who produce the milk that goes into Kerrygold. The grass and the dairy cows are revered above all else in Ireland. I heard this from the farmers, but also the taxi driver who took me to the airport. I commented about how lucky we were it didn’t rain the entire time we were there and he said, “but we need the rain for our grasses. Without it we wouldn’t have the beautiful green lands and the milk wouldn’t taste so good.” Seriously, it couldn’t have been better scripted. The cows grazing on those green fields produces a golden butter that tastes good enough to eat alone. The butter in Ireland (and all of Europe) has a higher fat content than the butter made here in the states, so the texture is creamy and luscious. It truly makes for a superior puff pastry, so I highly recommend you find some. This is one of those recipes where it will make a big impact.
You can watch me make this tart in my Instagram video.
Fruit Tart with Homemade Puff Pastry
Puff Pastry – makes 2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) – watch my Puff Pastry Instagram Tutorial to make the puff pastry and the tart
D’etrempe – this is the dough that encases the butter
4 cups (1 pound | 454g) all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Flour, which is slightly higher protein than most other brands, so it makes a stronger dough and easier to roll without tearing.)
4 tablespoons (2 oz | 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
About 2 cup (250ml) cold water – (depending on the flour and time of year, you may not need all of the water)
Beurrage – the butter folded into the dough
2 cup (1 pound | 454g) unsalted butter, slightly chilled
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
To make the D’etramepe:
In a mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and butter, then add the water until the dough comes together into a craggy dough. It will be rough, but no dry spots and just a little sticky.
Pat the dough into a square, place on a sheet pan lined with a silpat, cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the Beurrage:
Between two sheets of parchment paper, place the cold butter and sprinkle it with the flour. Beat the butter and flour with a rolling pin until it is “plastic” and combined with the flour. (Pro Tip “plastic” butter – If the butter is too soft, form the mixture into a rectangle on a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate until slightly chilled, but still spreadable. The amount of time will depend on how soft the butter was to begin with. Once it is “plastic” then it is the same consistency as the chilled dough. The “plastic” consistency of the butter is crucial to being able to roll the dough. If the butter is too cold it may break through the dough. If it is too warm, it may ooze out the edges. Either way it makes the process more difficult and the end product less successful.)
How to Laminate the dough – the process of folding the butter (beurrage) into the dough (d’etrempe):
On a lightly floured Silpat or marble surface (using a silpat requires less flour to keep it from sticking, than if you roll directly on a floured non-marble counter), roll the d’etrempe into a 12″ (30cm) square. Place the butter into the center and spread into a 5×7″ (13 x 17cm) rectangle. Fold the edge of the d’etrempe over the beurrage so the butter is completely encased.
Roll the package into a 11×18″ (28x45cm) rectangle. (See my instagram video for tutorial)
Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Brushing off any excess flour before folding, so the dough will fuse together.
Turn and roll the package into a 11×18″ (28x45cm) rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter again. Brushing off any excess flour before folding. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until the butter is “plastic” again, about 30 minutes.
Repeat the turning, rolling and folding into thirds two more times. This means you have formed the package, then turned and rolled the dough a total of four times. If at any point the butter feels too soft, cover and refrigerate the package until the butter becomes “plastic” again.
Freeze the finished dough for at least 12 hours for best results. Then defrost and use as directed in your recipe.
I also made the tarts with lemon curd and berries.
2 cups (100g) whole raw almonds
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
To make the praline: place the sugar and almonds in a pot and cook over medium heat until the sugar starts to melt. Stir it constantly until all the sugar has melted and turns amber, then starts to smoke. Immediately pour the almonds and caramel onto a silicone mat and allow to cool completely. Break up the praline and pulverize it in a food processor until very small pieces, some of it will become powder.
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
Watch me make the tart, praline and puff pastry in my Instagram video. The only liberties I took with the recipe was to create a rectangular tart (instead of round, as you’ll see in Rory’s directions) and I switched up the fruit.
Look at those beautiful layers!
Thank you to all the wonderful folks at Kerrygold for a magical trip to Ireland that I will never forget!