It took me a long time to get the hang of making pie dough. Then l I discovered the beauty of a galette: no shrinkage, no worries about rolling a perfect circle and no pie weights needed when baking. A charmingly rustic freeform galette wins over a pie in my books – at least when I’m baking. So when I decided I wanted to try my hand at tart dough, I started to sweat.
Tart dough should be a bit sturdier and thicker than the average pie dough. I wanted to create something more akin to a buttery sugar cookie, so I headed online to see what I could find. I landed on David Lebovitz’s easy jam tart recipe that seemed ideal for my purposes: I had jam + I had nectarines. I also found Deb’s great unshrinkable sweet tart shell recipe and that suited my ingredient list a bit more, so I borrowed here and there and got to it. The resulting dough came together easily and it was buttery and tasted like an almond cookie (the almond extract I added was a nice touch). However, after the dough chilled in the fridge, I closed my computer and decided to pursue the rest of the recipe on my own. That’s where things started to go wrong.
Instead of following one of the tart recipes to the end, I went solo and blind-baked my tart dough which is where things got a little too golden and way too dark too quickly. Maybe my oven was too high or maybe I should never had pre-baked this tart dough to begin with. Maybe you’ve got the secret to a great tart and trust me, I’d love to hear your secrets. I removed the much-too-golden crust from the oven, brushed it with some of my favorite raspberry jam (warmed up to make the brushing easy), I laid some sliced nectarines over top. Ideally, I was hoping for a pretty circle of perfectly aligned fruit, but things just got higglety-pigglety and I let the nectarines fall. It’s rustic, right? I brushed the tops with more warmed jam and back into the oven it went.
Maybe I could have saved everything if I had the kind of kitchen that stocked aluminum foil. I rarely have aluminum foil and I was thinking of banning it completely from my kitchen since it’s just so disposable*. It could have been that all I needed was a small square of the shiny stuff so that the delicate edges wouldn’t have born the brunt of my intense oven. Maybe.
About twenty minutes later, when I removed this thing from the oven, I was crushed. But my husband, always the dessert trooper, was keen to dig right in. So how did it taste? Well the crust was overdone, obviously. It was too sturdy and too hard and it just wouldn’t cut easily with the side of a fork. However, the flavour was bang-on, minus the burnt bits. And the nectarine and jam topping? Perfect. Of course we finished the tart. Nothing a giant floppy dollop of bourbon & honey cinnamon whipped cream and a few ripe blackberries couldn’t handle.
So what did I learn from all of this? Follow a recipe through before improvising – at least when it comes to precise things like baking. Also, blind baking isn’t always necessary. And most importantly, watch your crust & use aluminum foil (or a pie shield) to prevent the tart edges from burning. Burning a tart is a sad, sad thing but look on the up-side because there’s always whipped cream.
burnt nectarine tart (but not on purpose)
your favorite tart dough (try this or this or this)
3-4 ripe nectarines, pitted & sliced
1/2 c your favorite raspberry jam (I love Bonne Maman)
2 T bourbon (or water or orange juice)
whipped cream & berries (optional as a topping, but highly recommended)
Make your tart dough, following the recipe carefully. Blind bake or not blind bake, that’s up to you. Next time, I’m not going to pre-bake the tart.
Heat up jam and bourbon in a small saucepan until the mixture is warm. Generously brush onto pastry, reserving a few tablespoons. Add nectarines in a pleasing pattern (or don’t). Brush remaining jam over top of nectarines. Bake for 20 minutes or until nectarines are slightly wrinkly and the jam is bubbling. Beware burning crust!!
* I should note here that I have successfully stopped using plastic wrap! I’m pretty happy about this. When I’ve got a plate or bowl of something I just use another plate upside down as a lid. Works like a charm. Look ma, less plastic!