Anyone not have a few abandoned silos of dried prunes sitting at the back of the cabinet shelf? Maybe some apricots like knucklebones rattling around the bottom of a bag? Good. We’re going to use up those petrified jewels in a Dried Fruit Tart.
The recipe suggests figs, prunes and apricots, but if you happen to have some dried peach halves or cherries that have seen better days, feel free to add some in; a few chopped walnuts wouldn’t be amiss either.
Our previous approach in The Garum Factory has mostly been to use dried fruit where it’s least expected, in Caramelized Turnips with Bacon and Dates, for example, or Layla and Mohammed’s Moroccan Short Ribs of Beef with Prunes and Ras El Hanout.
If you haven’t tried either of those, then you need to spend more quality time with what’s on offer during your next masked foray down the dried fruit aisle. Don’t worry if you don’t use them tomorrow, or even next month, your purchases will keep.
This dish is an easy treat, an excuse to create a buttery crust to hold the mixture of dried fruit mulled in red wine suspended in a thick syrup flavored with cinnamon, peppercorns, and both fresh and dried herbs. A slice of Dried Fruit Tart begs for a scoop of crème fraîche, vanilla ice cream or even full-fat Greek yogurt. And who couldn’t use a treat these days?
NOTE: Jody and her peers have been working on funding a soup kitchen – TRADE PORTO SALONIKI GIVES. Meals go to displaced restaurant workers, to their families and to medical workers who deserve better than PB&J. In less than a week the fund has raised $58,000. Donations pay restaurant workers in the soup kitchen. Read – and donate! – here.
DRIED FRUIT TART
Short Crust Pastry Dough
- 1½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch slices
- 2 tablespoons water
Dried Fruit Filling
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 12 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig thyme
- 3 cups red wine
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 strips orange peel, about 1″ x 3″
- juice of 1 orange
- 1¼ pounds assorted dried fruit: figs, prunes, apricots, raisins, currants (remove the stems and cut the figs in quarters)
Make the crust
- Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a food processor and process to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
- Add the water and process until the mixture just comes together, about 30 seconds. Check for texture by squeezing some in your hand. It should just hold together.
- Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Make the filling
- While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Begin by wrapping the fennel seed, peppercorns and cloves into a cheesecloth bundle or, as I did, put them in a tea strainer.
- Combine all the ingredients except the fruit in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add the dried fruit and cook until tender and syrupy, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the seasonings and discard.
Finishing the crust
- While the dried fruit is cooking, get started on finishing the crust. Using additional flour, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thick, about a 14-inch round. You will need to pick the dough up with a bench scraper and dust the counter with flour several times as the dough will stick to the counter.
- Fold the dough in half, and then in half again, to make a triangle. Transfer the triangle a 10-inch tart pan with the point of the triangle pointed at the center and unfold. If there’s excess dough, trim the edges, leaving a ¼ overhang. Finish the edges as you like: pinched with your fingers, pressed with the tines of a fork, or simply left as is.
- Use left over dough to make cut-out shapes to put on top of the tart. Refrigerate.
- Put the tart shell into the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Prebake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. It should be just turning golden brown and crisp.
Making the tart
- Fill the pre-cooked pastry crust with the dried fruit. If you have cut-out shapes, place on top. Brush the shapes with cream if you have some. Do not brush the pre-cooked edges with cream as it will cause them to darken too quickly.
- Bake at 375, at the bottom of the oven, for 30 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the syrup bubbling.
- The cut-out shapes weren’t done by the time the tart was done and the edges were golden brown. I used an old trick of wrapping the edges with foil, and putting the tart under the broiler for 5 minutes to cook the cut-outs.
Serve with crème fraiche.
Last Christmas, I made an ambitious fruit bread recipe, Le Pain Aux 13 Desserts (the Bread of 13 Desserts), from Daniel Leader’s book, LIVING BREAD, as gifts for friends and family. The name of the bread comes from the selection of dried fruit and nuts that are the final treat in the traditional Provencal extravaganza known as the Gros Souper, Chrismas Eve dinner, before everyone waddles off to church for Midnight Mass. Making the bread, which incorporated lots of dried fruit and nuts, stretched out over several days, and while I loved and appreciated all the steps involved, it was one of those projects where you celebrate the process (It’s 13 Dessert Bread season!) rather than the product. I’m not sure the recipients of the loaves were super impressed.
Post holidays, superfluous dried fruit filled my pantry shelves, while orphaned loaves took up leftover space in the freezer. In order to accommodate all the canned fish and tomatoes we purchased for the Corona Apocalypse, I had to do something with the dried fruit. (We are also eating the last of the 13 Bread loaves, trying to make room in the freezer as well.)
My friend and mentor, Chef Gordon Hamersley, used to make an amazing dried fruit crostada at Hamersley’s Bistro. This tart is inspired by those memories. Feel free to use your favorite piecrust. I believe Gordon used a flaky pate brisee.
There are at least two schools of thought as to how to make short crust dough. In this version, the butter is crumbled into the flour mixture as you would in a piecrust. In others, the butter and sugar are creamed, as in cookies or a cake, and then the flour is added. Some recipes call for granulated sugar, others call for confectioner’s. Some call for cream as the liquid, some for egg yolks or whole eggs, and in this case I used water. The cornmeal isn’t necessary, it just adds texture. And my last thought is, ground toasted walnuts almonds in the dough would have been really nice.