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Simplicity is the mother of confection

Agencies | Updated: 2012-08-28 15:50

Simplicity is the mother of confection


Most summer stone fruit — peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots — are candidates for a pretty tart. Fresh figs qualify, too. I cut the fruit into quarters or eighths, depending on their size, then crowd the wedges so that they stand at attention in tight concentric circles on a pastry shell. I dust the fruit with sugar and, as a typical recipe demands, I would dot the top with butter.

It’s the dotting, a tedious, messy task, that I detest. You even have to do it with a double-crust apple pie.

So this season I gave the process some thought, let laziness reign and came up with an effective solution. Instead of dots of butter, I simply brush the fruit with lightly browned melted butter and then sprinkle a little sugar, a couple of tablespoons at most. In a hot oven, the sugar caramelizes a bit along the edges of the fruit, which I do not bother peeling.

A few more tips: Before I put the fruit in the tart shell, I brush the pastry with a slick of good preserves, which combine with the juices to make a thick syrup surrounding the fruit and keep the pastry from becoming soggy.

And my pastry recipe, which I have used for years, is pretty ordinary. But I fully bake it blind before filling it. A second trip to the oven, bearing fruit, does not overbake it.