Monday, April 12, 2010

easy jam tart

easy jam tart

From what I read, those of you on the opposite side of the country are reveling in the season’s first artichokes, asparagus and favas. You’re gushing over rhubarb and your new favorite way to cook it. You’re rejoicing over how good in-season strawberries taste when you’ve been deprived of them for the better part of a year.

Please stop.

dry ingredientstart doughpressing in the cornmeal crustjam tart, ready to bake

I am small and petty and the Greenmarket is so devoid of anything but root vegetables — and also vegetables that grow in the ground — would you like some potatoes? We have crates and crates; I’m incapable of being happy for you. I was so eager to believe that I’d find anything but the same old things that have been out for the last four months when I was at the market this weekend that I rushed at a sign that said “Apricots and Nectarines” even though I knew it would have been impossible that the crate could have contained them, only to find that it had been scrawled on the back of the announcement of more “Cold Storage Apples”. (Sorry kid, looks like another week of applesauce for you!)

sour cherry jam

This recipe is for the rest of us, those with cherries and berries and citrus and stone fruits, but only the kinds that come in jars that were vacuum-sealed in warmer times. It comes from David Lebovitz’s new compilation of his best recipes, Ready for Dessert. This book is the perfect Starter Lebovitz, if you ask me; for those of you who’ve heard about him or read his blog and laughed at his jokes and comments but didn’t know which of his cookbooks to buy first. With this, he’s retested everything, added weights and pretty pretty photographs so you get a little taste of everything he does well without having to clear out an entire bookshelf to accommodate his awesomeness. (Though he’d like me to let you know that he does not mind one bit if you do that too.)

easy jam tart
easy jam tart wedge

Like this jam tart. It doesn’t expect that you will have a very specific kind of fruit with a short growing season in your kitchen right now and it doesn’t have any preconceived notion that you’ll be making your own jam. (Though good on ye if you do, you know?) It knows you probably don’t feel like busting out a rolling pin yet it guides you through making a gorgeous tart without one. But most of all, it understands that while theoretically this tart is a dessert, or maybe something you’d serve at tea, realistically, you’ll probably cut yourself a wedge for breakfast and plans for this by making it heartier (with cornmeal), cakier (with baking powder) and simpler (like jam on toast, but so much better).

jam tart, gone

One year ago: Simple Potato Gratin
Two years ago: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Three years ago: Gnocchi with a Grater

Easy Jam Tart
Adapted from Ready for Dessert

Of course, I couldn’t resist tinkering with the recipe a little. I made the dough in the food processor, because I already had it down and the Kitchen Aid seemed impossibly far away (on top of the fridge). I used the egg white leftover from the crust to make a shiny glaze for the tart. I used less jam than I was supposed to, because I ran out and was too lazy to get more and too apprehensive to mix jams; I liked this lesser amount in the end. Because my tart stuck to the pan just a little, I’m suggesting that you butter your tart mold. Finally, I approached the top crust differently than suggested. Rather than using thicker “coins” of dough, I cut them super-thin and overlapped them to create a pretty lid. Because pretty counts. I am sure Mr. Lebovitz will approve.

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (70 grams) stone-ground cornmeal or polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces or 130 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg, whole
1 large egg, separated
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 to 1 3/4 cups (450 grams) jam (see Note above; I used the smaller amount) or marmalade
2 tablespoons (30 grams) coarse-crystal or granulated sugar

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a food processor, mix the butter and 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar together until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk (keep the egg white from the second egg on hand for later) and almond extract and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together.

Transfer about one-third of the dough to a lightly floured counter and shape it into a log about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (As always, I was in a rush and put this in the freezer.)

Transfer the remaining dough to a buttered 9-inch (23-cm) tart pan with a removable bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into the bottom. If using a tart pan, press the dough up the sides to the rim of the pan and set the tart pan on a baking sheet. If using a springform pan, press the dough about 3/4-inch (2-cm) up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate the dough-lined pan until firm, at least one hour. (Again, I used the freezer and it was firm in 30 minutes. I am impatient.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread the jam or marmalade evenly over the dough in the pan. Cut the chilled dough into very thin discs with a sharp paring knife. Arrange them slightly overlapped in concentric circles over the jam to form a top crust. Whisk the remaining egg white with a teaspoon of water until frothy; brush evenly over the tart lid and then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons (30 grams) coarse sugar. Bake until the top crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Do ahead: This tart keeps beautifully for up to 3 days if well-wrapped at room temperature. David says that it’s pretty sturdy, so perfect to take along on a picnic.


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