Nothing says spring quite like a bushel of ruby red strawberries fresh from the farmers’ market. Thanks to this year’s mild winter, the sweet fruit is in season even earlier than expected (not that it’s ever too soon to indulge in berry-flavored treats). We’ve got our eye on this delectable tart brimming with juicy strawberries and creamy mascarpone, featured in Apt. 2B Baking Co. blogger Yossy Arefi’s debut cookbook, Sweeter Off the Vine ($14; amazon.com). Try it out for yourself with the recipe below.
The Simplest Strawberry Tart
Makes One 15 x 6-inch tart
For the Rye Pie Crust (makes two crusts; save the second crust for another use)
1 1/3 cup all-purpose four
1 1/3 cups rye flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp very cold unsalted butter
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
8 tbsp ice water
For the Filling
1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
1 lb small sweet strawberries
1 cup mascarpone
3 tbsp vanilla sugar ($20/7.5 oz.; amazon.com)
3 tbsp high-quality strawberry jam
For the Rye Pie Crust
1. Whisk both flours and salt together in a large bowl, cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and add the apple cider vinegar to the ice water.
2. Working quickly, add the butter to the flour, and toss to coat. Then use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter in the flour as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create flat, thin shards of butter that range from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. Note: If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl.
3. Sprinkle about 6 tbsp of the icy cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems dry, add more cold water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
4. Press the dough together, then split in half. Form each half into a disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before using, but preferably overnight. Keeps for up to three months in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and layer of tin foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
For the Tart
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400˚F.
2. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the pie crust disk into an oval about 15 x 6 inches and just under 1/4-inch thick. Use a paring knife or pastry cutter to trim any rough edges and move the parchment sheet and crust to a baking sheet. Dock the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much in the oven. Brush the surface of the crust from edge to edge with the egg wash. Bake the dough until it is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Check on the crust halfway through baking and if any bubbles have appeared, use a spatula to press them flat. Cool the crust completely on the pan.
3. While the crust is cooling, combine the mascarpone and the 2 tbsp of sugar. Hull the strawberries and slice them into 1/4-inch slices.
4. Move the cooled pie crust to a serving platter or board and spread the mascarpone over the top in an even layer, dot with the jam, the arrange the sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, slice, and serve immediately