blueberry cornmeal tart
Thu, 2 July, 2020
Blueberry cornmeal shortbread tart is really a pie, only with crumble topping. It’s a cobbler but has a bottom crust. It’s shortbread with a wonderful savoury tang from cornmeal. Blind baked – yes, but the fruit goes on fresh.
It’s a pie but it isn’t; it’s a tart but not quite; it’s shortcrust but has cornmeal in it; it’s a cobbler but has a bottom. And it’s absolutely to die for.
I’m not that familiar with Alison Roman’s recipes and this was the first I’ve ever tried. Nice but flawed – it took additional input from the wonderful NY Times Cooking commenting crowd and my common sense to achieve success. As is, the recipe produces the classic soggy bottom: after all blind baking has not been invented just to waste people’s time.
Some tarts or pies call for cooked fruit or at least macerated in sugar and drained. When you use fresh fruit smothered in sugar which is going to make the fruit bleed juice, sitting it onto raw pastry isn’t a great idea. As it bakes, the base won’t manage to cook fast enough to seal itself against the juices. The outcome of the original recipe: soggy bottom.
I am always the first to call for simplifying things but whilst making pastry, baking it, then filling and baking again is obviously hassle, it’s completely worth it in this instance. I have one more trick up my sleeve: spreading a little cream cheese over the blind baked pastry base to seal it before the fruit is loaded in.
I am immediately tempted to try it out with different fruit but it mustn’t be too watery – strawberries and raspberries won’t make the shortlist. It could work as a slightly different wonderful apple pie, but it’s cherries that sound to me like the next best thing. Watch this space…
blueberry cornmeal tartServings: 8Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- For the shortcrust pastry:
- 190g (1½ cups) plain flour
- 55g (1/3 cup) fine cornmeal or polenta (not instant)
- 50g (1/3 cup) icing sugar
- 55g (¼ cup) light brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt
- 170g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted
- For the filling:
- 450g (1 pound) blueberries
- 40g (3 tbsp.) light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. plain flour
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. full fat plain cream cheese
- icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. To make the shortcrust pastry, stir together the flour, both sugars, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the melted, cooled butter and knead with your hands or using a wooden spoon to a pastry ball.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C (no fan, bottom heat/intensive bake if available)/350F/gas 4.
3. Divide the pastry ball in two almost equal portions. Press the slightly larger portion into the base of a tart or flan dish 20cm in diameter, using fingers or the bottom of a tumbler. Prick the pastry with the fork, cover with a sheet of parchment and baking beans or handfuls of bronze coins.
4. Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes, remove the parchment and beans or coins carefully and bake the pastry case for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
5. Toss the blueberries with the sugar, flour and salt, drizzle with the lemon juice.
6. When the pastry is cool to touch, spread the cream cheese over the base, to seal the pastry and prevent sogginess. Pour the blueberries in and crumble the remaining pastry over the fruit.
7. Return to the oven for 40 minutes, until the crust is crisp and brown and the blueberry filling bubbling.
8. Cool in the dish completely, dust with icing sugar if you like, before cutting and serving.