Monday, June 28, 2010

Rustic Cherry Tart-Torta Rustica con Ciliegia

I adore sour cherries, don't you?   These are called griote. I also use amarene  too, as they have such a great tartness to them that I just can't stop eating them long enough to make them into to all sorts of cherry delights. I can never seem to get enough of them as their season is so brief and they are so very fragile.  I find I don't stray too far from my favorite way preparing and eating these glistening red orbs. When I want cherry pie or tart, I love this homey variety of pastry wrapped around these fruit lovelies, and I turn to my tried and true, free form, cherry filled tart. When I discover that they have finally arrived in the market I can't seem to stop making this particular tart over and over.  I do like them stuck in or over  fresh vanilla gelato or baked in a custard type dessert or a dark chocolate gooey cake, but for me the flavors sing when shown off to their best advantage in a flaky pastry. I have had a couple of requests for this recipe so I am sharing it with you so you can enjoy it before the season is past. I tuck a few of these luscious red drops into a freezer container for a longed for treat later on when the fruits are on the wane and I can pop a few of these into a crust and away we go, early summer revisited. I find the rough shape, plump and pleasing to the eye and easy to make with a small amount of effort.
 Don't let cherry season pass you by. I seemed to always be making this for my favorite American holiday, 4th of July. Then I knew it was really summer. Hope you enjoy it too.


Rustic Sour Cherry Tart
 8-10 servings
Oven preheated to 200*C or 400 *F after the chilling of the dough

Dough:
200g (7.5 oz or generous 1 1/2 c) all purpose flour, measured onto a clean dry, work surface
generous pinch salt, added to the flour
150g (10T) butter, unsalted, cold, cut up into small pieces, keep cold
6 T cold or ice water, it might be a little less, you need to judge by adding a little at a time
2T coarse sugar, I like brown demerara, but anything will work


Filling:
1 kg (generous 2 lbs) sour cherries, pitted** I use mine whole.
50g or so (1/4 c) sugar, I like to use a coarse grain brown sugar or unrefined white sugar
Grated orange or lemon peel from 1/2 fruit
Squeeze of the citrus juice or  1 T amaretto or small amount of almond extract


Method:
The method for making this pastry is called friasage in French and is done to make the dough a bit sturdier to keep the fruit juice from leaking out and for the dough to hold its shape. You don't lose the flakiness of the dough, if you work quickly and don't handle it too much.

This can be made in a food processor, quickly cutting the butter in by pulsing the processor before adding the water.
Since I don't have one, I just use the old fashion method.
You can use a pastry cutter ( or a large fork if you have one) and gingerly cut the small butter pieces into the flour and salt mix.
Or you can cut your butter very small, working quickly to keep the butter cold.
Add to the flour and  lightly mix  the butter pieces and flour. Quickly rub the larger butter pieces between your thumb and finger into the flour till you have a crumbly mix that is somewhat consistently pea sized.
Drizzle about half of your cold water  around the flour mix and quickly gather the pieces into a mass resemble a rough dough.  If you find it is just too dry to bring it together sprinkle the rest of the water in the areas that are dry and work quickly to bring the dough into a shaggy rectangular mass.
With a bench scraper or the heel of your hands smear the butter and flour across the surface of the table int a rectangular shape. Then gather the dough together with your hands or scraper from the sides toward the center and repeat a couple of times till the dough holds together and takes shape. Work quickly and lightly, handling as little as possible for best results. Place your flatten dough disc in a bag or covered bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

Mix all of your filling ingredients and set as your dough is relaxing in the refrigerator.

Remove the dough from the fridge and place on your dry lightly floured work surface.
Roll out your dough into a disk about 3 coins high not worrying about the rough edges of the dough. That gives you a nice rustic look to your tart. Just try to keep it in a fairly round shape as you roll out. I roll and turn the dough about a quarter of a turn in a circular fashion for keeping it even. I always roll my dough in all directions for strengthening the dough but without adding toughness.
Roll disc out to about 30cm or 12" taking care to either roll out on a sheet of oven paper or  cling film, and loosen and lightly flour a few times to keep it from sticking to your rolling surface.
Place the dough disc on a flat baking tray that has been lined with oven paper or a silicone sheet.
 Pour your fruit into the middle of the dough leave a couple of inches free from fruit.


Lift your dough towards the center of the tart and continue around the tart making several overlapping folds till all of the fruit is corralled in the middle of the tart and there is a nice amount of the fruit exposed. Give each of the fold a firm pinch with out squishing the dough together, but making sure the tart dough will hold the cooking fruit in place without all the delectable juice leaking out.
Lightly wash the top of the tart dough with water or milk and generously sprinkle with 2 generous tablespoons of coarse or regular sugar.
Sometimes I stick the tart in the refrigerator for  15 minutes or so if it seems that the dough has softened too much and might benefit from a bit of chilling to help it keep its shape, but not entirely necessary.
Bake in a hot oven ( 200*C or 400 *F) about 50 minutes or so until the fruit is bubbling and the crust golden. If you give it 5 minutes to cool and then remove it to a wire rack, the crust will retain its crispy nature. Best served warm after cooling for at least 30 minutes  and cut into 6-10 wedges, or room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
I can vouch it is excellent for breakfast the next morning whether you warm it up again in the oven or not.
**Cooks notes: this tarts works well with a variety of fruits or combinations, adjusting the sugar to suit your taste. I like cherries combined with peaches, plums, apricots or nectarines as well.  I made it with a cherry pear combo that was very tasty too. I think I see a strawberry rhubarb tart in the near future as my rhubarb is finally ready a;though raspberries might have to step in for the strawberries that are just about gone. Any of these fruits alone or combined make a wonderful fruit tart.  You may want to cut back on the sugar if your fruit is very sweet. Of course, if you use sweet cherries, you may cut back on the sugar also.
The rolling of your dough, as well as the smearing and gathering of this dough, is about finesse and not brute strength. It comes with time and practice. A good excuse to make this tart a few times, like I have been doing over the past few weeks.
This can be made into individual mini tarts as well. A bit fiddly, but worth the effort. I usually make about 6 of them and 8 if I'm feeling patient. The smaller they are, the more difficult to work with. 
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