Blackberry Tart

Summer in Seattle was once a best-kept secret. The dark, cold, rainy days  have somehow transformed into blue skies that reflect clearly on the lakes with sunsets turning to impressionistic orange hues.  The street lined trees and parks are now vibrant green. Seattleite boaters and hikers turn out in droves to neighboring lakes, beaches, and forest trails.

One of the enjoyable activities I like to do in summer is wild blackberry picking. The two primary species found here are the  Himalayan and evergreen blackberry, growing mostly in western Washington.

Primarily planted for the blackberry fruit, the blackberry species have naturally invaded the hospitable environment so much to the extent they’re considered as noxious weeds — ravaging through the trail paths and their thorns cause havoc along hiking trails.

 

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Himalayan and evergreen blackberry are widespread along rivers and wetlands in King County. The berries are large with a minerally tart flavor.

The New York Times recipe for pate brisee sucree is about the same ingredients with slightly different amount compared to Julia Child’s recipe.

Pate Brisee Sucree
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One (Knopf, 1961) by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. This is my go to tart pastry as it is easy and basically infallible.

Ingredients:

13 cups flour
2 tbsp. sugar
14 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening
Instructions:
  1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender, work butter and shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Slowly add as much as 4 tbsp. of the ice water and blend using one hand while gathering the dough into a mass. Press the dough firmly into a ball. It should hold together and be pliable but not sticky. If it’s sticky, you’ve added too much water. Lightly dust with additional flour to fix.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. With the heel of one hand, (more at wrist area), press the pastry on the floured surface away from you, fold the pressed area over, rotate the disc-shaped pastry and start again.
  5. Once the dough appears to be well integrated — it will have an evenness of color throughout the dough, either freeze it for 1 hour or refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight before using.
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While the pate brisee is cooling, prepare the berries.
Ingredients:
Blackberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon any red berry jam
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Blackberry Filling Preparation:
  1. Wash the berries in cool running water, ensure there are no leaves or twigs and stems left behind.
  2. In a cooking pan, add one cup of water and 1/3 cup of sugar. Heat the water and sugar mixture until lightly simmering. Stir in the berries and cook gently. Do not overcook as it will turn into a jammy mixture. The berries should just hold their shape after the blanching. Drain the berries and keep the drained syrupy looking fluid.
  3. Spoon the berries on top of the pastry. Generously brush the syrup fluid on top of the berries. Powder with confectioner sugar and garnish with fresh flowers if desired (picture has lavender from my friend’s garden).
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