Free form apple tart

apple tart

My favorite summertime dessert is fresh fruit, and my second-favorite summertime dessert is baked fruit with some kind of dough. We love fruit pies, fruit tarts, and fruit crumbles - especially when topped with vanilla ice cream! While we do buy them occasionally, I prefer making and baking them, especially when all the fresh, sweet summertime fruit arrives at our local farmer's market. I'm not very good at making pie crusts, but crumb toppings are easy-peasy, and I have a go-to sweet pastry dough from food blogger Jennie Perillo, so I can whip up a fruit crumble or tart whenever the whim strikes me.

When it comes to a sweet pastry dough, Jennie Perillo's recipe CANNOT be beat. Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 ounces cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons ice cold water

Jennie combines her ingredients in a food processor, or cuts the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, or with her hands (you can see read her instructions on  Jennie's blog post for Peach Raspberry Tart). I, on the other hand, am lazy, so I use my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer (I do cut the butter into very small pieces and make sure each piece is coated in flour before I toss them in my bowl). Refrigerating for 20-30 minutes is essential.

Once the dough has been chilled, roll it out into a 9 or 10-inch circle, then place your fruit in the middle. Our favorite fruits for this tart include blueberries, peaches, and apples. I've even used frozen blueberries many times, and the crust never ends up soggy! Just add a few tablespoons of sugar and flour to the fruit before putting the fruit into your tart crust. I also like to add cinnamon when I use apples.

Once you've piled the fruit onto the crust, fold the edges up and over the outer rim of fruit to make a free-form tart. (Note: Even the most asymmetrical of circles will have a rustic charm, so there's no need to worry about making a mistake. However you roll the dough out, the tart will come out, as Jennie calls it, "imperfectly perfect"). Bake at 400F for 40 minutes.

The resulting tart is like summertime on a plate. The crust tastes like shortbread, good enough to eat with out the fruit -- but with that gooey, fruity filling, why would you?  Enjoy!

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