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A blueberry tart makes the blueberries the star of the show.

Food and Drink / Column

Show off the fruit

A simple, open-faced tart shines the spotlight where it belongs: on the blueberries

BELLOWS FALLS—One of my fondest memories growing up in Spofford, N.H., was the annual trek with my mother and grandmother to an old abandoned farm a few roads away from ours. You knew that treasure was to be had because it didn’t look like much on the outside.

But we knew the way in, overgrown as it was, and the battle with the brambles was worth it because our reward was an endless expanse of blueberry bushes — at least, it seemed so to my young eyes.

There was one problem: the patch was also filled with black snakes, so we were continually on the lookout. They never really posed a problem, but even today, when I go blueberry picking, I’m ready for a snake to slither out.

My mother and grandmother used clothesline rope to hang large water buckets around their necks so they could pick with both hands. We children had little pails or baskets, and we picked and ate our fill, ever alert.

The week ahead would include blueberry muffins and coffee cake, jam to put by for the rest of the year, and — much to our delight — blueberry pie.

Mom made the pie the traditional way, with a basic pastry dough, rolled out and fitted into the pan, the way I still make it for a holiday.

But sometimes I like to bake a simple open-faced tart to really show off the fruit. It is also easier.

* * *

After my own granddaughters and I went berrying this week, the house was filled with blue! In addition to blueberry muffins and crepes with blueberry sauce, we tucked many quarts in the freezer and made two pies.

First, we made a really quick free-formed tart, fashioned from a piece of puff pastry I had on hand. We added some sugar and folded up the edges of the crust around the berries and baked it until it was puffy and brown and the berries were bubbling.

We served this tart to the extended family at a gathering, and there wasn’t a smear of blueberry left before I could get the camera!

The second pie was also easy, made with a press-in dough and only a little more fuss.

The crust I chose started with melted butter, but I browned it first to add flavor.

Use any crust you like, even a pre-made one, if you are strapped for time.

Choose the most flavorful berries you can find — and if you have a patch of wild berries, all the better.

Just watch out for snakes!

Blueberry Tart with Brown Butter Crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust:

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt:

¶1{1/2} sticks of unsalted butter

Keep the pan moving and swirl it gently until the butter starts to brown and take on a nutty aroma. You want it deep brown but not burned. The bubbles will subside somewhat.

Pour into a bowl to cool for a moment, then add:

¶2 Tbsp. canola oil

¶2 Tbsp. water

Set aside. In a large bowl, place:

¶1{3/4} cups white flour

¶A pinch of salt

¶2 Tbsp. white sugar

Add the butter mixture and mix it with a wooden spoon. If it looks too wet, add a bit more flour. You want a ball that holds its form in the bowl.

Press this dough into a 9{1/2}-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Work the dough around the bottom and sides of the pan with your fingers until it is fairly even, then use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to even it out, pressing into the sides.

For the filling:

In a large bowl, gently mix:

¶4 cups ripe blueberries

¶{1/2} cup sugar

¶2 Tbsp. cornstarch

¶Pinch of salt

¶{1/4} tsp. cinnamon

¶Zest and juice of one lemon

¶1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fill the tart crust and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch drips. Bake on the middle rack for 55 to 65 minutes (probably the latter). The pie will be bubbling but will look a bit loose when gently jiggled.

Remove from the oven and top with an additional

¶1 cup or so of fresh blueberries

Let the tart cool completely before even thinking about cutting it.

Holding the bottom of the tart pan, remove the side ring and slide the tart onto a plate. Glaze with a bit of thinned, strained jam for glossiness. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #522 (Wednesday, August 7, 2019). This story appeared on page C2.

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