I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently discovered Ruth Reichl. Earlier this year, a friend recommended Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table, by the former Gourmet Magazine Editor in Chief (among many the other accomplishments including four James Beard Awards).
Actually it wasn’t so much a recommendation as it was a reference to the book the friend assumed I had already read. Again, embarrassed. So, in turn, I’m assuming everyone else already knows (and has known for most of her more than 40 year career) who she is.
But, just in case not: she’s wonderful.
Anyhow, in April of this year, Epicurious ran a feature by Ms. Reichl titled “I’m Ruth Reichl, and These Are the Best Recipes from my Gourmet Years.”
Knowing what I had learned just before this article came out, I was ready to take her word for it and, went straight for the first of two dessert recipes featured in the article: a Raspberry Crumble Tart by Ruth Cousineau featured in the August 2006 edition.
The first thing that jumped out at me was that the recipe calls for six, yes 6 cups of fresh raspberries (that’s four of those little containers these expensive little jewels usually come in).
Looking between my tart pan and the bowl of berries, I couldn’t quit figure out how I was going to get them all in there. Me of little faith.
The next notable thing about this recipe is that the fruit does not get sweetened. Here are in ingredients for the raspberry filling: raspberries. There is some sugar in the crumble on top, but none in the fruit. Again, me of little faith.
Finally, there is the crumble. To be clear, you could put crumble on an old sock and I’d eat it. With enthusiasm. But, I at least, generally think of crumble as a topping on something homey and unrefined. On an elegant tart? Well.
You don’t need to hear it from me because Ruth Reichl already said it–but I’m going to say it anyway: trust the process. To begin, your house will smell like everything early spring and summer hint at being: tangy, sweet and full of promise. Then there is the tart itself, as inviting as it is sophisticated. Sweetened only by the berries, the filling is bright, clean and gorgeous against the crumble rich crust. Serve it with a generous dollop of real whipped cream and nobody will remember the meal (or anything else) that came before it.
Raspberry Crumble Tart
Gourmet Magazine, August 2006
- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 C cold vegetable shortening (butter works just fine here if you don’t have shortening…don’t sweat it)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 to 7 TBS ice water
- 3/4 C whole almonds (3 ounces), chopped (TMH–I used blanched almonds because I already had them)
- 3/4 C sugar
- 4 (6-ounces) containers fresh raspberries (6 cups)
- Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Transfer 2 cups mixture to a bowl and drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water evenly over it (reserve remaining mixture). Stir gently with a fork until incorporated.
- Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. (Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.)
- Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make topping while dough chills:
- Add almonds and sugar to reserved dough mixture in a bowl and rub together until some large clumps form.
- Put a large baking sheet on oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out disk of dough into a 14- by 13-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into tart pan and trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pan to reinforce edge. Fill shell with berries and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake tart in pan on baking sheet until topping and crust are golden and filling is bubbling, about 55 to 60 minutes (loosely cover with a sheet of foil after 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool tart completely, about 45 minutes.