Before the strawberry season is over — which all signs indicate will be sooner than usual this year — make a simple, luscious, low-fuss tart. This recipe needs fresh berries, sliced straight from the container (frozen ones are way too drippy when thawed — perfectly all right for other dishes but not this one).
Truth be known, I could make myself perfectly happy with berries sliced with granola and yogurt for breakfast, whole berries snacked on all day, and strawberry shortcake every night for a week. Other people’s eyes glaze over when faced with such delicious repetition, so for the sake of variety, strawberries enfolded with pie crust or galette dough is a welcome change. I favor galette dough because of the buttery richness of the crust, and in the recipe that follows, a bit of cornmeal makes a good crunch. Or try a simple rustic tart made with your favorite pie pastry, even a premade one is entirely acceptable since it is summer and you might want to take a little break from time in a hot kitchen.
What makes it rustic is that you don’t roll out dough to fit into a pie plate, neatly add a top crust, then crimp the edges with pretty fluting as in a traditional pie. Simply roll it more or less into a circle, plop the berries in the center and flip the edges toward the middle, leaving a little breathing space in the center. It’s a little untidy but just as tasty.
Using parchment paper on the baking sheet means that the inevitable berry leakage doesn’t weld itself to the pan, making cleanup a good deal easier.
Obviously, this technique will work for any berry and fruit as it comes in season, or even combinations of fruit. We look forward to cherries, blueberries, blackberries, plums, peaches and apples. Obviously, grocery stores carry apricots, nectarines, plumcots and others that not all farmers markets display. Fresh fruit really stars in this kind of dessert, so relish them over the summer
And, yes, of course, serve it with whipped cream or ice cream. Did you have to ask?
Rustic Strawberry Tart
1 quart of strawberries, hulled and sliced, about 3 ½ cups
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
1. Put the sliced berries in a bowl and sprinkle with cornstarch and sugar.
2. Toss to coat the berries and set aside.
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons, or 1 stick cold butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water
1. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or by pulsing it in a food processor until you see pieces of butter slightly smaller than a pea.
3. Add the sour cream and water to the butter and flour mixture, tossing until it comes together and adding a little sprinkle of cold water if needed until it makes a ball.
4. Divide the dough into two, and make disks to wrap in waxed paper. Chill.
5. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Roll the dough into rounds on a floured surface and lay them on the parchment-lined pans.
7. Heap the berries in the center of the rounds, and lift the edges of the dough toward the middle of the tart, pressing them together lightly.
8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the berries are bubbling.
9. Remove from oven and cool.
10. Cut each tart into three or four wedges and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.