Hi everyone, and happy Independence Day! We thought we'd give you a different kind of inspiration this month, just in time for the 4th. Introducing: Heritage Organic Pies! Ok, well not pies exactly, but I digress.
This week, we'll be honoring the birth of our amazing nation, and what better way to celebrate than with two all-American classics? But instead of using the tried and true recipes of the past, I decided to add a little twist to each to keep things fresh (no pun intended).
The first of our two treats is a rustic apple-cinnamon tart. I lined a vintage pie tin with pâte sucrée (sweet tart dough), and partially filled the center with a cinnamon-spiced frangipane batter, which gave the tart a chewy, blondie-like consistency. Then I horizontally stacked fresh apple slices on top of the batter to create an interesting pattern. Once baked, I topped the finished tart with a simple glaze and crunchy nib sugar. By adding the frangipane, the batter was able to soak up any liquid dropped from the apples while baking. So the tart stayed firm once cut, and no filling oozed out of the sides. Basically, it could be eaten like a cookie (and it was).
By the way, did you notice the pie server? It's engraved with an eagle and the years 1776-1976! I stumbled on this bicentennial commemorative piece at an antique store in Portland, Maine! How lucky was that??
While rooted in tradition, our second tart is a little more adventurous. I started with a quart of strawberries from our farmer's market, and ended with a roasted strawberry-tomato and elderflower tart! I know a tomato dessert sounds crazy, but inspiration struck when my husband dusted some table sugar on freshly cut tomatoes. I had never heard of this before, and their flavor was incredible! It's hard to describe, but they tasted more like tomatoes than ever before because the sugar brought out their natural sweetness. So when creating our second tart, I roasted cherry tomatoes and strawberries with a little honey, then spread the cooled mixture on top of another sweet dough. I then covered the mixture with frangipane batter infused with elderflower syrup, and topped the whole tart with strawberry slices. Once baked, I brushed the top with another simple glaze, and decorated it with fresh strawberries and tiny white buds. Since we can't actually get fresh elderflowers in Boston, I ordered all-natural elderflower syrup online and used Queen Anne's Lace for the topping. Queen Anne's Lace is just as edible, you'll just want to be sure that it's grown pesticide free.
I cannot describe just how much I loved the strawberry-tomato tart! Since I baked it, my husband and I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dessert, twice over! At 10 inches wide, it barely lasted 2 days. With its bright and tangy fruit filling sandwiched between a sweet crust and a cake-like topping, each slice reminded me of a Linzer cookie. And the elderflower syrup rendered a fun, unique flavor that subtly popped up just at the end of each bite. This may just be my favorite pie/tart of all time. :)
Admittedly, with their pâte sucrées and frangipanes, these tarts lean more towards rustic French desserts than traditional American pies. But given that our Independence was won with the help of the French, I'm okay with blending the two cuisines in honor of the holiday. America is one big melting pot, after all!