A Fruit Tart… Redolent of Summer
I’m depressed… pretty much badly. Looks like the summer is gone already. It is just about the middle of August, and the mornings are already getting cooler. Everywhere you look, there are the inevitable signs… fall fashions in the shops, fall programs in the pages of the Times… Not that one minds too much either. After all, there is a lot to enjoy in the autumn. But this early? Did summer really have its turn this year? I don’t think so!
A colourful, rich, delicious fresh fruit tart is a sure fire cure for the depression induced by oncoming weather changes; at least, temporarily. So I headed for the farm market to get some tree ripened fragrant and sweet fruit. This is a small market held three afternoons a week, and has produce only from within locavore distance. What do you think I saw when I got there? Tables and tables of squash! Acorn squashes, butternut squashes, kabocha squashes… all winter varieties! Nnnnno! No one loves a baked acorn half stuffed with onions and mushrooms and drenched in béchamel more than I do, but not already!
Keeping my eyes firmly averted, I moved towards the fruits. There they were in all their glory, bursting with a healthy glow of summer. Peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries… I returned home somewhat mollified.
This is one fruit tart that I have made many times and it comes out great every time. Most of the fruit tart recipes call for baking the shell empty (called blind baking) and then adding a creamy filling, topped with sliced fruit. Here the shell is baked with a cashew nut-based filling in it and the fruit added when cooled. Traditionally it is a frangipane – an almond paste filling – but then isn’t it always fun to tinker with traditions!
You can use any of the seasonal fruit which will look and taste good in combination. For this tart, I used peaches, plums, cherries, kiwis and bananas. Mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, blue berries, etc. will be excellent as well.
This might look complicated with all that talk, but actually it is quite easy. If you have ever baked a cake, you can do this – easy peasy!
Three sets of ingredients: one for the shell…
Truly juicy and yummy!
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 ½ cup cashew nuts (whole or pieces)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 8 tbsp butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 lb ripe mixed fruit
- 4 tbsp fruit preserve, of a flavor that goes with the fruits you have chosen
- Mix the flour and sugar together.
- Cut the butter into slices.
- Make a hole in the middle of the flour mix and place the butter slices in it.
- Blend the egg yolk with the butter using your fingers.
- Now blend this mixture into the flour-sugar mix till you get a uniform crumply mixture.
- Sprinkle it thinly on the bottom of the pan and press down to form a uniform layer.
- Form small ropes with the mix and flatten them to the sides of the pan to form a continuous wall.
- Cover in plastic or foil wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can chill it overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degree farenheit.
- Keep the butter in the refrigerator.
- Roast the cashews on medium heat, till the edges start to brown.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- When cooled, place them in the food processor (with a metal blade) along with the sugar and pulse them till they are sandy in texture. Do not grind them to a smooth powder.
- Cut the butter into pieces and add to the cashew-sugar mix. Blend well.
- Add the eggs and blend well.
- Add the flour and blend well.
- Take the chilled tart shell out of the refrigerator and pour the filling evenly into the shell.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, till the filling is puffed up and golden.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
- Pit, peel and slice all fruits as required.
- When the tart base has cooled, apply 3 tablespoons of the fruit preserve, uniformly on the top. (Leave aside 1 tablespoon of preserve.)
- Place the fruit slices in an attractive pattern over the fruit preserve.
- Mix the 1 tablespoon of remaining fruit preserve with 1 tablespoon of water and using a pastry brush, apply over the fruit slices to glaze them. Make sure you cover all the pieces. This will prevent them from drying out.
- The fruit tart is ready to serve. You can keep it in the refrigerator if not using right away, but bring it to room temperature before serving.