Introduction: Making Your Own Stunning Nectarine Tart From Scratch
Let's get one thing straight; I am not a pie maker. In fact, I almost always much prefer cake to pie. To make and to eat. They say love can change us for the better, and I am quite sure that they began saying this after a crisp, delicately sweet, hummingly delicious bite of this tart. After making this tart I am inspired to make up words (adverbs even!), like 'hummingly' because it's just that. It makes you want to hum!
After making this Tart, I am a changed woman... As far as my preferences about dessert go anyway.
In this Instructable I will also break down my fool proof method for amazing homemade Short Crust. Pastry is something I used to struggle with a lot, and I think a lot of people find it an intimidating task. Hopefully my recipe and instruction will help even beginning bakers to produce perfect crust from scratch, and realize just how easy it can be :)
Step 1: Let's Talk Nectarines
As far as any fruit tart goes, the tart will only be as good as the fruit you use in it. For this nectarine tart make sure to feel and smell the nectarines you want to use; they should be slightly firm (although by no means rock solid) and smell fragrantly of... well nectarines. Note that softer nectarines (more ripe ones) will be extremely fragrant, and will be delicious in this pie, however their texture will make it hard to have clean slices and this will simply not look as pretty on your tart.
Lastly know that this recipe will work marvelously with any stone fruit or apple, so don't be limited by my choice of nectarine.
Step 2: Making Your Short Crust
1 1/4 Cups plain flour (157.5g)
A pinch of salt
1 3/4 Tbsp Sugar (24.5g)
1/2 Cup cold unsalted butter (113g)
1/6 Cup ice water (39.5ml)
Method 1: Food Processor. (A.k.a. a much easier method for those who have their lives together and own a food processor)
1. Combine your flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until well mixed.
2. Add the cold butter in ~4cm cubes (1inch) to flour mixture. Pulse until mixture is a sand-like consistency.
3.Gradually pour in your ice water while pulsing until a dough forms
4. Wrap your dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Method 2: By hand. (The method I use)
1. Combine your flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together with a fork until well incorporated.
2. Add the cold butter in ~2-3cm cubes (the smaller they are, the easier it will be to incorporate) to the flour mixture. Using your hands, cover butter in the flour and proceed to mix together by picking up the chunks of butter and plenty of flour, and crumbling the two back into the bowl. Repeat this process until the mixture resembles a sand-like consistency with no observable bits of butter remaining. (Especially when aspiring to make fine details (such as the flowers on my tart above) out of shortcrust it is essential to make sure the butter is completely incorporated in this step)
3. Pour the ice water into the butter/flour mixture and stir together until a dough forms.
4.Wrap your dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Step 3: Short Crust Tips and Tricks
The theme of the following 'tips and tricks' are temperature. It is crucial when making shortcrust that the butter stays refrigerator-cold the whole time. If you own a food processor then I would highly recommend you use it for this recipe, and frankly there is very little that can go wrong. However, if you are attempting this by hand (like yours truly) then the tips below may be of some use.
Food Processor Method:
The kinetic energy from quickly revolving blade can (minimally) warm the butter when using a food processor to make this dough. In this instance it may be a good idea to place the blade in the freezer for around 2 minutes before embarking on this recipe. Furthermore be sure to measure and cut the butter into (~3cm ) chunks in advance, then place back in the fridge for ~5 minutes before use, to ensure it is properly cold. Besides that, just follow the instructions in the step above, and I am quite sure you will master this Short Crust.
By Hand Method:
Greetings fair warrior, your bravery inspires me (Just kidding... for the most part). When making this dough by hand the warmth of your hands and the kinetic energy created from moving the butter around can easily soften the butter while trying to incorporate it into the flour. To avoid this, I take extra precautions to make sure that all of my ingredients and the mixing bowl are chilled beforehand. It is ideal to use either a metal or glass mixing bowl, as this will better retain the cold than a plastic one, but plastic should work fine if that is all you have on hand. To begin with measure and mix the flour, sugar and salt in your mixing bowl and place in the freezer for ~3-5 minutes. Remove your butter from the fridge and cut into ~1cm cubes or chunks and (you guessed it!) place in the freezer for ~1 minutes. It is worth me saying that while the butter needs to be cold, it can be too cold, and this will prevent the butter/flour mixing with the water in later steps, so you by no means want anything completely frozen. Remove the mixing bowl and the butter from the freezer and proceed to add the butter chunks to the flour mixture. At this point I hold my cold mixing bowl for a few seconds to lower the temperature of my hands. If you are using a plastic mixing bowl I would advise you press your hands against some other frozen item in your freezer (This is basically the only reason people have frozen peas). Proceed to cover the butter in the flour mixture and incorporate by picking up chunks of butter and flour and crumbling together back into the bowl as described in the short crust directions. If at any point you feel the butter melting in your hands just pop the whole dough in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. I would highly reccomend putting your dough in the fridge if for any reason you need to take a break from making it.
A last note:
If you have been successful in forming the dough then (apart from burning the shortcrust when baking) there is very little that can go wrong from there. Be sure to keep the dough chilling in the fridge for as long as you are not using it. It is also a good idea to chill the dough before putting it in the oven, and I usually chill mine in the pan one last time for ~5 minutes.
Step 4: Preparing the Crust
At this point your beautiful dough has been made and chilling for ~1 hour. It's time to roll it out, put it in the pan and blind bake it.
1. Preheat the oven to 175degrees centigrade.
2. Remove your chilled shortcrust from the fridge and roll out into ~1/2cm-thick circle shape over a floured surface. (While rolling be liberal with the flour on the countertop, rolling pin, and dough to prevent sticking.)
3. Carefully pick up your dough (over a rolling pin if necessary) and drape it over your tart pan.
4. Maneuver dough inside and along the inner walls of the pan, pressing it into the grooves on the pan's sides. 5.Using a sharp knife cut away excess dough hanging off the pan. Form the excess back into a ball and refrigerate for later use.
6. Poke small holes using a fork or skewer (or any hole-poking utensil really) along the bottom of the crust.
7. Cover dough/pan in aluminum foil, pressing the foil against the sides of the pan to outline the shape. Fill the foil covered dough/pan with dried beans (or whatever your preferred form of pie weight is.) and place the whole thing in the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes. (This is commonly called blind baking)
8. When ready, take your crust out of the oven and carefully remove the beans and aluminum foil (At this point the beans will be extremely hot. Do not touch them with barehands.) Leave to cool at least 10 minutes.
Step 5: Preparing the Tart
The time has come, you are finally ready to prepare your gorgeous tart.
6 Juicy & Delicious Nectarines (or fruit of choice)
~1 1/2 Tbsp sugar (21g)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (14g)
**optional: 1/2tsp cinnamon
1. Thinly slice your nectarines (or fruit of choice) into ~1cm pieces (take caution not to make them too thin or they will burn easily.)
2. Making sure your crust is completely cooled, arrange nectarines on top in an overlapping circular fashion as in the photo above. I would reccomend doing two layers of nectarines. (Make sure to take your time with this step, one of the elements that makes this tart so stunning is the clean and precise look of the arranged fruit on top.)
3. Break your butter into small pieces with your fingers and distribute evenly on top of the nectarines.
4. Lastly sprinkle your sugar evenly over top. (If choosing to use cinnamon, stir into the sugar before sprinkling)
Step 6: *Optionally* Making Short Crust Flowers
This step (as in the title) is completely optional, and I guarantee your tart will still look sensational without it. However Short Crust flowers are a really easy show stopper if you have the extra time.
1. Take your remaining dough from the fridge and roll it out over a floured surface to around 1/2cm thickness.
2. Place dough on either a cutting board or cookie sheet into the freezer for around 3-4 minutes to firm up.
Most of this process is around keeping the dough nice and cold (almost frozen even) in order to get clean cut outs.
3. Remove dough from the freezer and begin cutting out your flowers. I did mine with some flower cutters I have for making sugar flowers. Of course, this is a lot easier to do with flower cutters, but if you do not have them you can print out some flower stencils and cut them out with a sharp pairing knife by hand. (I did this with another pie of mine to make autumn leaves. It is certainly more time consuming, but just as good a result).
4. As you work continue placing the dough into the freezer for short intervals if you find it is softening too much. Place each cut out flower back into the freezer when ready.
5. When your flowers are finished, use a skewer or fondant tool to press in fine details such as veins, their centers or imprints on the petals.
6. Lastly place flowers back in the freezer once more. It is essential for preserving the fine detail of the dough flowers that they are cold when they hit the heat of the oven.
7. Arrange flowers on top of your fruit in any manor you like. Optionally you can also pinch together some tiny dough leaves for a more complete look.
Step 7: Baking and Serving
Lastly bake your tart for 15-20 minutes or until the Nectarines are caramelized and golden brown.
Once baked, you can remove it from the tart pan and place it on some form of elegant platter to show off to all of your family, friends or guests.
Slice up and serve warm with a generous dollop of Crème fraîche or a big lovely scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Finally, enjoy all of your hard work! :)
If you like this recipe and would like to see more of my culinary creations please feel free to have a look at my Instagram: @Madebyizie ( https://www.instagram.com/madebyizie/ ) or my recipe blog: www.crackingyolk.com
Thank you for all your support and happy baking!