This is an easy tart to make, and the brown butter crust makes it just a little different, easy because the crust is press-in, no rolling!
One of my fondest memories growing up in rural New England was the annual trek with my mother and grandmother to an old abandoned farm a few roads away from ours. You had to know there was treasure to be had there because it didn’t look like much from the road. But we knew the way in, overgrown as it was, and the battle with the weeds and brambles was worth it because our reward was a endless expanse of blueberry bushes, at least it seemed like it to my child eyes.
And guarding the blueberries…
There was one problem –– the patch was also filled with black snakes, so we were continually on the lookout. They never really posed a problem, but even today, when I go blueberry picking, I’m ready for a snake to slither out.
My mother and grandmother used clothesline rope to hang large water buckets around their necks so they could pick with both hands free. We had little pails or baskets, and we children picked and ate our fill. However, when we got home, we would eat more still – berries in a bowl with a little milk, “berries and cream,” sprinkled with just a touch of sugar, and eaten with a spoon. The week ahead would include blueberry muffins and coffee cake, jam to put by for the rest of the year, and blueberry pie, everyone’s favorite.
A little switch up
Mom made the pie the traditional way with a basic pastry dough, rolled out and fitted into the pan, and I still do this for a holiday. But sometimes I like to make a simple open-faced tart to really show off the fruit.
After my own granddaughters and I went berrying this week at our local, organic Harlow’s Farm Stand, the house was filled with berries! In addition to blueberry muffins we tucked quarts away in the freezer and we made two pies. First, a really quick free-formed tart fashioned from a piece of puff pastry I had tucked away in the freezer. We just added some sugar and folded up the edges of the crust around the berries and baked it until it was puffy and brown and the berries bubbling. We served this to the extended family at a gathering and there wasn’t a smear of blueberry left before I could get the camera!
The second pie was also easy, made with a press-in dough and little fuss. I knew I was going to make a press-in crust that started with melted butter, but to add a little extra flavor, I decided to try browning the butter before adding it to the mix. It was also a hit, and only one kid was home when it was finished, so I had time to grab the camera.
My family is happy, my freezer is filled with berries, and I am delighted to report, there wasn’t a snake about.
It’s all about the berries
Chose the most flavorful berries you can find, some can be watery or bland in flavor, some tart, and others incredibly sweet. You can always compensate with a little more sugar if the berries are too tart. This recipe uses a little less sugar than most berry pies, but is still plenty sweet, and it’s just the way we like it.
Blueberry Tart with Brown Butter Crust
For the crust:
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
2 tbsp. water
1 ¾ to 2 cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
For the pie filling:
4 cups ripe blueberries, plus more to top
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375.
Place butter in a saucepan over medium high and melt. Keep swirling, the butter will start to bubble wildly. Keep the pan swirling, until you see browning on the bottom of the pan. Keep going until it is nut brown and nutty in aroma. You want a deep brown, but not burned. The bubbles will subside somewhat. Pour into a bowl to cool for a moment.
Add the oil and water. Set aside.
In a bowl, place 1 ¾ cup of the flour, the salt and sugar. Add the butter mixture and with a wooden spoon mix it into a ball. If it looks too wet, add more flour. You want a ball that holds its form in the bowl.
Press into a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Work the dough around the bottom and sides of the pan with your fingers until it is fairly even, then use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass and even it out, pressing into the sides.
To make the filling, Place all the ingredients in a bowl and gently mix. Add to the filling and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch any spills.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes. The filling will be bubbly, but loose looking. Remove from the oven.
Top with another cup or so of fresh blueberries. They will sink into the hot filling a little. Let the tart cool completely. Resist the temptation.
Holding the bottom of the tart pan remove the sides, and slide the tart onto a plate or cake stand. *Glaze with a bit of thinned, strained jam (blueberry or apricot) before cutting, and top with whipped cream if you like.
8 to 10 servings.
*To glaze any fruit tart: In a small bowl, microwave a few tablespoons of jam until loose, just a few seconds. Apricot is the traditional, but you can use what you have. Put through a mesh strainer to remove any pieces of fruit, and use a pastry brush to gently paint this on the fruit.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen.