Tuesday, November 24, 2009

fresh blackberry walnut tarts

For my first post I will be baking fresh blackberry walnut tarts. I made them at the request of Vince for Thanksgiving. This was the second time I baked tarts, so I was familiar with the recipe. The dough is super easy and fast to make, and you only need to add sugar to create the blackberry/walnut filling.

Your first step is to prepare the pastry (tart dough).


1/4 cup ice-cold water
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit is using salted butter)
8 ounces cold butter, cut into small (1/4 inch) cubes

I did some research to understand why certain flours are used for different baked goods. The main distinction is the amount of gluten (proteins) in the flour. When flour is mixed with water the proteins are activated, and will become elastic. Gluten is good for bread, since it requires more support in order to rise. Tarts on the other hand can become tough and mealy with too much gluten.
All-purpose flour is best for creating tart dough. It has just the right amount of gluten to give the pastry a flaky texture.

To create the dough you will first combine the butter and flour in mixer for no more than a minute, at medium-low speed. Remember that the butter needs to be refrigerator temperature; soft butter can melt when mixing and the dough can become oily. Next you will pour three quarters of the ice-cold water into the bowl and mix for approximately 30 seconds. I measure the water in the measuring cup and keep it in the freezer for five-ten minutes. You can add the additional water until the dough begins to clump together. You can test the pastry by squeezing it together. If it falls apart, you will need to add a little more water. When the dough is at the perfect consistency you will hand roll it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. You will need to refrigerate it for at least an hour before you roll it out. (TIP: If you refrigerated for an extended period of time, you want to allow 20 minutes for the dough to become room temperature. This will make it easier to roll).

Meanwhile you can start to create the filing, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts (broken into small bits)

Combine all ingredients gently. You don't want to break the berries, since they are fragile. You only want to coat with the sugar and add the walnuts.

The next step will be to roll you dough for the tarts. Roll dough out on work board to less than 1/4-inch in thickness. I used six tartlette tins, so I divided the dough into six. After dividing the dough you can begin to mold it into the bottom and sides of the tin with your fingertips.

Finally place berry mixture inside the shells. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, at 400 degrees F. Allow the tarts to cool for at least 15 minutes, and serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or Creme
Fraiche. Enjoy!!!