I love fresh fruit tarts, and I think I might just really really love this one. Maybe it is because of the fresh blueberries from our garden. Or maybe it is from the lemony cream cheese layer, or the crisp cookie-like tart shell. Or maybe from all of these things.
I took a risk and tried David Lebovitz’ version of Paule Caillat’s French Tart Dough recipe. It’s an unusual technique, but the result is a thin, delicate, crispy, ever-so-slightly-sweetened tart shell that serves as the perfect backdrop for anything you want to put in it. Similar to a shortbread crust, or a pâte sucrée, but no egg, making the flavor more subtle, so it doesn’t compete with the filling. It just enhances it.
I also decided I wanted a cream cheese layer instead of a pastry cream, and I have no regrets. The tangy lemony flavor pairs perfectly with fresh berries, it stores well, and it doesn’t make the crust soggy either. Oh, and did I mention how ridiculously easy it is to make?
I have made this tart three times now. The first time was a big hit, so I had to make it again, and since I am me, I decided to tweak the crust recipe to make it a bit sweeter, and who knows what else. Nope. In the final analysis, the crust recipe is perfect just as David has written it. I made the tart a third time with no changes to the crust, just to be sure. I asked Millie to arrange the fruit. She added strawberries, which we all agreed was the perfect combination.
And this tart keeps well in the fridge for three days! It might keep longer than that, but it hasn’t lasted longer than that at our house. This tart actually benefits from a day of refrigeration. All the ingredients seem to get cozier with each other.
Beautiful Blueberry Tart
Serves 6 to 8
For the crust:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (canola works well)
- 1 1/3 cup (160 grams) all purpose flour*
For the filling:
- 8 ounces cold cream cheese
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (or what you can get from one lemon)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Approximately 1 pint, or 2 cups blueberries, or a mix of berries.**
- 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
- splash water
- Preheat your oven to 410°.
- Making the crust: Measure your flour in a small bowl and set aside. Place the butter, water, sugar, salt, and oil into a large oven-safe glass bowl (I use a large Pyrex bowl) and place in preheated oven. Heat until ingredients are bubbly, and the edges of the butter are starting to brown. For me, that takes somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove bowl from oven using oven mitts or gloves (there will be splattering). Add the flour (there will be more splattering!) and mix with a spatula until the dough comes together. Keep in mind the bowl will be dangerously hot, so resist the urge to hold the bowl with one hand unless you are still wearing your gloves or mitts.
- Transfer dough to 9″ tart pan and spread the dough out a bit with the spatula. Let the dough rest for a few minutes until it has cooled enough to handle it. Don’t let it sit too long or it will dry out. Remove a tablespoon’s worth of the dough and set it aside to use for patching. With your fingers, spread the dough to cover the pan and going up the sides, making it as even as possible. You should have just enough to do this.
- Poke holes in the dough all over with a fork. Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and place in the 410° oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. If you see the crust puffing up and doming while it is baking, take a fork and carefully poke a hole or two into the domed area, and gently press down. You might have to do this a couple of times during the bake.
- Remove from oven, and patch any of the larger cracks with the reserved dough. Don’t worry if you don’t cover all the cracks. Let cool completely.
- While crust is cooling, make your filling: using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until light and fluffy.
- Once the crust is cool, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly into the crust, then place your blueberries (and maybe strawberries and blackberries too) on top. Refrigerate for *at least* two hours, but longer is better, and this tart is excellent on day #2. If you want a shiny more finished appearance, you can heat up some apricot preserves with a small splash of water to make a glaze. Brush the top of the fruit with it before refrigerating. I prefer without for a more rustic look. Enjoy!
* To get an accurate measurement of flour, using a scale is best. If you don’t have one, aerate your flour first by stirring it, then sprinkle it into your measuring cup and level and sweep off the excess with the straight edge of a knife.
** As you might suspect, this tart is only as good as the fruit you use, so make sure your berries are firm and fresh and have good flavor.
And now for a few pictures of the process.