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Whole wheat Fruit tarts

April 10, 2010

For too many reasons to list here, I don’t bake as often as I’d like to. But yesterday I became inspired to bake something, I just didn’t know what I wanted to make. It was a pleasantly sunny morning, as most mornings around these parts can be and I was highly caffeinated off my second cup of French Market Coffee feeling slightly domesticated and no doubt having that reoccurring fantasy that I live in a French Quarter residence with a courtyard that’s lush and overgrown… Oh you have the same one? You must be drinking French Market too. It also makes me want to bake.

Anyway, the strawberries I had picked up on Tuesday at the Berkeley Farmers Market were winking at me and definitely beginning to show their wear (from all that winking). I also had a bit of whole wheat dough left over from a previous night’s dinner so fruit tarts seemed like the logical choice. On occasion I do make logical choices (like where to buy gas) and who doesn’t love a simple fruit tart? I certainly do and so does my neighbor.

As I mentioned above, the tart dough I made was a whole wheat type. Baking with whole wheat flour is certainly  a new occurence for me and I’ll leave it at that. I am in no way opposed to whole wheat flour, quite the contrary, but I am still getting acclimated to the taste difference between white and wheat flour. And I think my eventual crossing over to the other side of flour is a wonderful thing.

This dough used is more of a savory dough (as it is made without sugar) and did work well as a base for a tart I made a few nights prior. That one consisted of: prawns, roasted red peppers and cipollini onions and a bit of farmer’s cheese (because I just can’t help it). It turned out quite nicely, thank you for asking.

I rolled out the dough thin and used a few cookie cutters I had purchased over Halloween to cut  out the shapes. The shapes are interesting  in a non-circular way if that is at all possible.

On the skull I layed out the strawberries. On the tomb I put to rest slices of green apple that I had briefly marinated with fresh ginger. And on the cat’s face I layered slivers of red grapes, orange segments and slices of banana. On all the tarts the fruit has been drizzled with agave syrup, then sprinkled with a generous amount of sugar in the raw before baking. Just between you and me, I brushed the tops with a bit of (lean) solidified bacon drippings before I layed the fruit over them. I know, I know bacon fat, brilliant and yes it is a wonderful thing. I certainly  wanted to use those delicious flavorful drippings where ever I can. I do like to save as much as I can when cooking  and happen to possess certain Southern tendencies that require I collect my fat drippings, diligently, and keep them in a sealed mason jar under the sink for safe keeping and future uses. I am, an official paradox but quite a charming one and I’d love to have you over for dinner one night. Who knows what I’ll be in the mood to cook..

Funny enough my taste taster couldn’t taste the bacon fat, nor could I. The tester also commented that in their humble opinion the strawberry tart was too acidic (for their taste) and they would have preferred a slightly sweeter dough to balance the natural acidity of the green apple (which I like). I completely agree with this conclusion (don’t ask a Brit). I like a flaky, buttery and slightly sweet dough too. Especially when fruit is involved. And strong coffee.

I can proudly say I no longer use granulated white sugar in baking and instead have switched to using agave syrup and sugar in the raw. I am also not a fan of super sweet desserts in general and when using fresh fruit I tend to rely mostly on the natural sweetness of the fruit in its varying stages of ripeness. It’s also hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of a fruit tart made with whole wheat flour. But why not. Of course it has been done before, Mother’s Cafe in Austin makes a fabulous blueberry one that I’ve had the unexpected pleasure to try. Though I am now determined to make another dough that is slightly sweeter but still flaky and still whole wheat based. I know what your thinking and so am I. Make it again and add a few tablespoons of sugar…”Thank you, you are far too kind to me.”

Tart Dough

3 c. A.P. flour ( I substituted King Arthur’s whole wheat)

1 c. cold butter (cut in cubes)

1 tsp. salt.

4-6 tbsp. ice water (though I used more because of the density of whole wheat flour)

Add flour, butter, and salt to mixer using the paddle attachment. Mix on low until butter is incorporated and pea size. Slowly add ice water until mixture almost comes together. At this point I turned the dough out on the counter and brought it together roughly with my hands. Then wrapped the dough in plastic and set in fridge until ready to use.

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