The only thing better than discovering in your fridge the ingredients for a fantastic winter salad is discovering in your freezer the ingredients for a fantastic summer tart in the middle of March. I was looking for the wheat bran I use to make my weekly bread, when I jackpot and happened upon a bag of frozen blueberries in the very back of my freezer. I thought I'd run out of summer berries long ago, but no! I still had some blueberries left (along with a litle bit of sweet corn and a couple precious strawberries -- stay tuned.)
When frozen blueberries present themselves, you make something crusty and flaky and oozy with fruit juices: a tart or a pie, either will do. In this case, I'd been eyeing the blueberry tart in cornmeal crust from a new addition to my cookbook shelf: Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox's The Craft of Baking, and this seemed like a golden opportunity to try it.
What first intrigued me about the recipe was the ingredient list for the cornmeal crust. Specifically, it didn't call for an egg or egg yolk, which most tart crust recipes I've used do. Instead, TCOB calls for buttermilk. I need not have been skeptical: this cornmeal crust is, by far, the best I've ever had. It's perfectly sweet, a wee bit salty, and gets extremely crunchy and crusty in the oven.
DeMasco and Fox also do quite well by way of the blueberries, which are treated with sugar, flour, and a bit of lemon juice (I also added zest), then brought to room temperature so the juices thicken up. While the juice definitely leached out of the crust in the oven, it didn't prevent the crust from crisping, and the juices were well-thickened, certainly not runny. The tart was such a welcome break from apples, I can't even tell you. And a generous dollop of unsweetened whipped cream certainly didn't hurt. If you've got leftover berries lying around, this is just the recipe to hold you over until summer.
Blueberry Cornmeal Tart adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox
Note: you only need half a recipe of tart crust for this recipe. Freeze the other half for later use.
For the cornmeal crust:
10 tablespons butter, room temp 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup buttermilk or milk 3/4 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup cornmeal 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined. Add milk and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add to the butter mixture and beat just to combine.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, making sure to include any bits stuck to the bowl. Using a gentle hand, bring together to form a mass. Divide in half, form into disks, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Dough can be frozen for upto 1 month; bring to room temperature before using.
For the tart:
3 cups blueberries; frozen is fine 1/3 cup sugar 1 tablespoon flour, plus extra for rolling; 2 tablespoons flour if using frozen berries 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
On a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with flour, roll out dough into an 11-inch circle. Transfer dough, on parchment, to refrigerator and chill about 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest. If frozen, bring berries to room temperature so juices can mingle with flour and thicken. When berries have thawed, set crust on countertop and mound berries in middle, leaving large (about 4-inch) border around. Fold crust edges up over berries; you can tuck and fold the dough to make a nice pleated pattern, or just fold casually for a rustic look. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar and refrigerate 20 mintues.
Preheat oven to 375. Bake tart 40 minutes, rotating half way through baking. Transfer carefully to wire rack to let cool. Serve warm or room temperature with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche.