Rustic Cherry Tart... I just like the sound of that. It creates images in my head of driving the back roads of Provence and stumbling upon small villages with bakeries full of rustic pastries so beautiful, they make me cry. The landscape of Provence is covered with cherry orchards, and I am certain (well, almost certain) that you would find a tart such as this. Provencal village markets are full of berries and stone fruit with intoxicating smells wafting throughout. I'm always scolding myself for not having rented a house with an oven, because all I want to do while I'm there is bake! Since that won't be happening this year, the only alternative is to bake like I'm in Provence, here in Minnesota.
Make this rustic cherry tart with a cornmeal crust, light candles outdoors, and dine al fresco on a beautiful summer evening. And if you'd like, make Vanilla Ice Milk as I did to serve alongside.
• adapted from a recipe in Delicious Fruit Desserts by Dot Vartan
• 1 1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 4-5 tablespoons ice water
• 4 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2-3 tablespoons Turbinado (raw) sugar
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until butter is the size of small peas. Add 4 tablespoons of ice water while pulsing, until the tart dough just starts to come together. If necessary, add up to 1 more tablespoon water, drop by drop, until dough comes together. Transfer to a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the pitted cherries with the almond extract and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Mix gently and place in the refrigerator while the tart dough is chilling.
3. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Take the dough from the refrigerator. Place 2 sheets of waxed paper, each about 18-inches in length and overlapping to create a square, on a work surface. Sprinkle with flour and place the tart dough on top. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour, and cover with the piece of plastic that it was wrapped in. Roll the dough into a large circle, about 13 to 14-inches in diameter. Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If the dough has become warm during this step, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for just a few minutes.) Gently mix the cherries again and using a slotted spoon, scoop the cherries (reserving cherry juices), onto the center of the rolled tart dough and spreading the cherries to within about 3-inches of the edge.
4. Lift the edge of the pastry dough and pleat the dough over the top edge of the cherries. Brush underneath the pleats with the beaten egg (this helps to keep the pastry from shifting during baking), and then on the top of the exposed pastry. You will not use the entire egg. Sprinkle the egg wash with the raw sugar. Pour the reserved cherry juices over the cherries and transfer the baking sheet to the center rack of the oven.
5. Bake the tart for approximately 35 minutes or until golden. Watch closely after 30 minutes, since ovens vary.
6. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve cherry tart slices with vanilla bean ice cream or Vanilla Ice Milk.
TAKE a LOOK: