Monday, September 22, 2014

Lengthy AWESOME Recipe Post

Mostly the recipe is awesome. But maybe I am tired AND happy right now (a rare combination), and have had some spiked iced tea, and have eaten several servings of this dessert today and can't HELP being a little long-winded and braggarly (which isn't a word? Why isn't braggarly a word??)

Fresh Strawberry Streusel Tart
So I made this deliciousness that I think might even be better than a strawberry pie. Which is saying something, since strawberry pie is so epic. Why is it so epic? Well, because pie is my favorite dessert, I can make a pretty darn good crust with my Momma's recipe, and strawberries are the best fruit on earth. Logic.
But this tart. It has a lot going on, on the flavor, color, texture, and plain old fun-in-the making front.
Most of this is from The Joy of Cooking, but as I said, I used our family's pie crust tradition (which I think is actually super basic, yet somehow not used by everyone and definitely not used to perfection. Allow me this one bit of pride?), and I selected which of Julia Child's recipes to put together and how. If you have her/their book you can find most of this in pieces and with different berries, but if you have the INTERNET why not use MY recipe??
make your tart crust
which is actually pie crust in disguise
and if the measurements seem funny it's because this is actually for 1.5 crusts since I think a tart is better with its crust a bit thicker than pie crust tends to be. And because crust is AWESOME and so so tasty.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teas salt
-Add 1/3 PLUS 1/6 cup very cold lard or butter (I always advocate using half each for optimal flavor)
Chop, cut or break the fat into small pieces. Pastry blenders, people. My favorite kitchen tool, besides the knives. Speaking of knives, you CAN cut the fat in with two kitchen knives. I've done it when I was for a short time without my own pastry blender, but it takes patience and way too much time for most of us mortals. The butter or lard all needs to be pretty evenly broken up, but not so tiny there's no texture left there. Think pea-sized for the largest pieces, and some variations down from there. -Chop chop chop, and never think, Oh I can use my fingers to break it all up and get the fat incorporated into the flour, because while you CAN do that, you'll warm it up too much and it'll get melty and your crust will be tougher and you don't want that.
-Add cold water. Probably under 1/3 cup, but add it in splashes so you don't accidentally get too much and so that you work each bit of moisture in carefully (again, with the pastry blender) before adding more. Your dough will start pulling together, and sticking to the pastry blender in between the wires or blades or whatever those things are called that cut down through it. You want to stop (adding water AND cutting it in) when the crust dough can be pressed together gently and stay there. There might be still a bit of dryish crumbly stuff in the bottom of the bowl if you go to pick up all of it at once, but most of it will adhere to itself and you can make a lightly-formed bulgy ball of crust.
-Set the crust down for a moment, and spray an 8-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Then press the crust into the pan and up the sides. (The crust can also be rolled out with a rolling pin, but I think this method here leaves you with a slightly softer, more shortbread-like crust, which is nice.) You can flute or press with a fork the edge. Prick the crust a bunch of times with a fork.
-Brush the crust with egg yolk. Nope, not white. This adds flavor and color, and I'm not sure what else. But it's good.
-Bake about 15 minutes or until it looks slightly puffed. Don't need to bake until golden, as it'll bake with the filling in it.
While it bakes
make the filling.
3 cups fresh strawberries, thick sliced or just cut in half (or probably any other berry, and maybe any fruit? But I haven't tried any others so I cannot vouch for how they'll turn out here)
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
And make the streusel.
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour (or rice flour)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (whoops, I used salted, but it didn't destroy the recipe. It rarely does, that little extra bit of salt...)
Blend until crumbly.

1/2 teas cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional. But oh man, I'm pretty sure the nuts are why this turned out AMAZING instead of just SO GOOD. Please don't skip the nuts.)
Remove crust from oven. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees.
Spread the berry filling evenly into the hot crust.
Sprinkle the streusel on top of it.
Bake until the filling is all excited and bubbly and the nuts in the streusel on top are just browned, and the crust edges are golden.
Remove and cool.

*I have only eaten slices of this tart at room temperature with a glass of milk on the side, so I can't say definitely the best way to eat it, but I feel pretty certain a dollop of whipped cream or generous scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a happy addition to your bowl. Oh, and you'll want to use a bowl and spoon, especially the first day. It's a bit juicy. By the second day it's mostly gone, but what is left keeps its shape pretty well and can even (I have experimented here, this afternoon, for SCIENCE) be picked up in a narrow slice with the fingers. Dishes will be saved. Time will be saved. Deliciousness will be tasted. You will be happy in so many ways.

**In its favor, this is a rich dessert, which means it is heavenly and also that you can get by with a slightly smaller piece than you might expect, yet it's not terribly sweet (yay fresh berries! And yay not pouring in the sugar indescriminately!) so you don't feel gross after eating a little more than you had planned.



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