I love a dish that looks elegant and skillful, but in actual fact is a breeze to knock together. And this tart fits the bill. It plays into that fantasy of one those supposedly last minute dinner parties pictured in glossy magazines, where a pair of perfectly matched hosts and a group of soigné guests, none of whom appear to have eaten a dessert their entire life, are casually draped around an artfully laid table laden with handmade pottery and eco-friendly linens. That doesn’t happen for me. But I occasionally hit on a little piece of kitchen wizardry that creates the right dish should such an event present itself.
I have, over the years, attempted this type of tart with a basic pie dough, without much success, as it doesn’t hold up to the filling and adds little to the flavor. But this version uses cornmeal for structure and texture while buttermilk makes it tender. It creates a nice substantial base for the berries, in fact, it is almost cookie-like. The simple dough really highlights fresh, peak of season berries, so I don’t mess around with them too much. A sprinkling of coarse raw sugar makes it glisten and adds a nice crunch. Whipped cream with a tangy hit of buttermilk is the perfect foil for the sweet tart. And best of all, this really is one of those fresh from the farmers market, last minute, impressive desserts you can serve at your real perfect gathering.
Blueberry Country Tart with Buttermilk Whipped Cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ yellow cornmeal
12 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons) cold butter
½ cup cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
4 cups fresh blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup demerara sugar
Put the flour, sugar and cornmeal in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Cut the butter into small chunks and drop into the processor. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles wet sand, with a few bits of butter visible. Pinch a little between your fingers – it should stick together. With the processor running, pour in the buttermilk and process until the dough forms a ball. This should take about 45 seconds. If needed, drizzle a bit more buttermilk in until it holds together.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and knead it a few times until it all holds together. Pat the dough into a round disk about six inches across, wrap in the plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350°. Toss the blueberries, sugar, flour, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Stir them around to get the berries coated in the mixture.
Trace a circle about 14-inches round onto a piece of parchment paper (I frequently trace an outline of the platter I am going to serve on). Lightly flour the parchment paper and transfer the chilled dough disk to the paper. Lighlty sprinkle the top with flour and roll the dough into a circle the size you’ve traced on the paper. Pile the berries into the center of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch border around the berries. Carefully fold the dough up around the berries. Use your fingers to press together any creases or breaks of in the dough. Carefully transfer the tart on the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Brush the crust with buttermilk, then sprinkle the demerara sugar over the dough and the top of the berries.
Bake the tart for 50 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the berries have begun to burst. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet. Carefully remove the tart to a serving platter. I use a thin spatula or palette knife to slide the tart off the paper onto the plate.
Serve at room temperature with a dollop of Buttermilk Whipped Cream.
Buttermilk Whipped Cream
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon sugar
Chill the bowl and beaters of an electric mixer until cold. Beat the cold cream and buttermilk together until beginning to thicken. Drizzle in the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Serve immediately.
Makes about 1 cup