RUSTIC FRUIT TART
Makes 2 (12-inch) tart crusts.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. The miniature bottles of vodka at liquor store checkouts hold just over the1/4 cup needed for this recipe. When making two tarts, double the filling ingredients.
For the crust:
• 21/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter (11/2 sticks, cut in1/2 -in.pieces)
• 1/2 c. cold vegetable shortening
• 1/4 c. ice water
• 1/4 c. cold vodka, see Note
For each tart filling:
• 1/2 c. sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp. cornstarch
• 2 c. fruit of choice, sliced thin or left whole, depending on the fruit
• Melted butter and sparkling sugar
To prepare crust: Whisk together flour, 2 tbsp. sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. With pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until well distributed. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
Combine cold water and vodka. Sprinkle over flour mixture, blending and sprinkling until all the liquid is used. The dough may seem rather sticky, but that’s OK.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into a loaf shape and cut in 2 equal pieces and flatten into fat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (You can also double wrap 1 disk and store in the freezer for use within 2 months.)
About 30 minutes before you want to bake, remove dough from the refrigerator and place it on the counter to take off the chill. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and fold over the edges about a half-inch to create a rim, to capture the fruit juices if they should begin to ooze.
On a well-floured pastry cloth or silicone sheet, roll out the dough, working from the middle to the edges, until you have a rough circle about 12 to 14 inches around. Don’t roll the dough too thin or the fruit may break through the sides of the tart.
Drape half the dough over the rolling pin and use the pin to lift the dough gently onto the parchment paper.
To prepare filling: Mix together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and pinch of salt. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Toss the remaining mixture with the fruit. Arrange fruit in center of dough circle.
Gently lift the border of dough up and toward the fruit, folding or pleating as you complete the circle. If desired, you can brush the dough border with some melted butter and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. If fruit juices have oozed onto the parchment, gently work the tart loose, slipping a knife under the crust. Then slide the tart onto a wire rack to cool slightly (or completely) before serving.