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Happy Labor Day


Look what I baked this morning. I’m spending Labor Day with my beloved cousin Jeff and decided to bring this for dessert. It’s a recipe I cut from Mark Bittman’s “Minimalist” column in the New York Times a few years back and it’s been a favorite ever since. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Labor Day and say goodbye to summer fruit, which is still in abundance for a few more weeks, especially the coveted last peaches of September. You can also make this with pears and apples when the north winds really start to blow. For the recipe and a link to Mark Bittman’s wonderful blog, read on. Happy Labor Day. Enjoy.

Free-Form Fruit Tart
Adapted from Mark Bittman Bitten: Mark Bittman on Food
Makes one tart, approximately 8 servings.
1 1/8 cups (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus some to dust work surface
1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar, plus extra for sugaring fruit if desired.
10 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pats and frozen (keep 2T. separate for melting and brushing on tart before baking)
1 egg yolk
2 T. ice water
1 egg white, for brushing dough before baking.
turbinado sugar or other large crystal sugar, optional, for sprinkling on dough before baking
2 cups pitted peeled and sliced ripe stone fruit and/or berries, like peaches, plums or nectarines (or use apples or pears in Fall)
confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream or ice cream, optional.

1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add 8 T. of the butter and turn on machine; process until butter and flour are blended and mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolk and 2 T. ice water and pulse machine on and off a couple of times. Dough may look dry; do not add extra water until you remove and gather mixture into a ball. It should come together nicely when you press it together in your hands. If the dough is still too dry to stick together, then add more ice water, a little at a time. Wrap in plasic, flatten into a disk, and freeze dough for 15 minutes ) or refrigerate for 30 minutes or more) to ease rolling. (You can also refrigerate for a day or two, or freeze for a week or so.)
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll crust out on a board sprinkled with flour or sprinkle it lightly with flour and roll between two sheets of waxed paper (a good method for beginners.) Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness; it need not be perfectly round. Put it directly on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or with a nonstick baking pad, or greased. Melt remaining 2 T. of butter.
3. Toss fruit with sugar to taste if desired. You may bake the fruit without sugar if you wish. Cover round of dough with fruit, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border all around. Fold up edges of crust around fruit, pinching together. Cover just outer rim of fruit. Brush exposed dough with egg white and sprinkle with large-crystal sugar such as turbinado, if using. Brush melted butter onto fruit. Bake until crust is golden brown and fruit bubbly, about 20 - 30 minutes. Turn tray half way through baking to ensure even browning.
4. Remove from oven and cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioner’s sugar (if you did not add sugar to fruit) or topped with ice cream or whipped cream.

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