Thursday, August 19, 2010
Currant Confections Cultivate Contentment
There I was at the farmers market, loading up on the usual additions to round out my CSA-- a few of the first squash, some blueberries, some scallions-- and then I saw them: bright red jewels glinting in the sun, beckoning me to come scoop them up into my basket. I was powerless against their lure. Never mind the fact that I had never cooked with fresh currants (I'm not sure if I'd ever even really eaten them), that was a problem for another time, like when I got home.
After much internet research, (during which I learned that currants can be hard to come by here as the bushes carry a disease that kills white pine, and thus their growth is actually banned in much of the country), I decided to make a tart (though ice cream was a temptation), and settled on this recipe.
First, make your tart dough. Though many doughs would work for the shell, I quite liked this recipe. I found it very quick and easy to make, and it was very tender and cookie-like, which compliments the smooth texture of the finished tart. Basically, you combine the ingredients listed below (sorry, it's metric and I'm not going to bother to convert: get a scale!). I just combined everything with my fingers, no fancy tools necessary. The dough is a bit crumbly at first, but gently press it together as you blend and it comes together nicely. When it's a nice ball, knead it a few times, then wrap it in plastic or a slightly damp cloth and pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- 220g flour
- 110g cold butter, cut into1/2" pieces (I like to quarter the stick lengthwise, then chop it)
- 50g sifted confectioners sugar (this is why weights are awesome: 50g of sugar weighs the same when it's sifted or not, so no more sifting out a pile and then measuring out a cup to be accurate.)
- 1 egg yolk
- a pinch of salt
While the dough rests, remove the currants from their stems, a rather arduous task. Don't bother to remove ever little blossom bit off the berries-- I didn't and I don't think it made one bit of difference. Do beware of cats named Lola, who find the process most amusing and will steal stems of berries from right under your nose. I used a quart of berries, which was perhaps a tad low for a 9"tart tin. While I liked the end result with the custard between the berries (reminiscent of a clafoutis), if you want a more solidly fruity tart, use a smaller shell or get more berries.
Pop your dough out of the fridge and decide what you're going to do with it. I chose to make one large tart to be sliced, the original recipe made a bunch of mini tartlets. Press the ball flat and roll it out a bit. I left mine a relatively thick disk (certainly no 1/2cm) then transferred it to the tin and gently pressed it up the sides. I think trying to roll it to the final thickness is more work with this relatively fragile dough. Prick the bottom with a fork all over, then weight the dough (I used lentils on top of parchment paper) and bake it at 200 degrees for about 10 min. It should be pale.
In a bowl, combine:
- 2 eggs
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 100ml heavy cream
and whisk until smooth. After removing the weights from the cool shell (did I need to say that?), add the currants in an even layer, then pour the cream mixture over. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min. The center should be firm looking, not liquid or jiggly, and the crust should be lightly golden. Let the tart cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the shell and serve.
The tart really is best the first day, though certainly fine the second. Any longer than that and the crust will be soggy, but really, you won't have any trouble finishing this tart in two days. Trust me.