Simple Strawberry Tart

To conclude our month of desserts, we chose a beautiful recipe from a food photographer we’ve worked with for years, Yossy Arefi. Her debut cookbook, Sweeter Off the Vine, just came out. With a delicious combination of sweetened mascarpone cheese and fresh strawberries, this tart would be a dinner party showstopper. Here’s how to make it…

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart
By Yossy Arefi of Apt. 2B Baking Co.

Spring’s best strawberries need very little adornment to shine, and in this tart they’re paired with a buttery rye pie crust and creamy mascarpone that really enhance their flavor without stealing the show. I’m not one for hyperbole, especially when it comes to food, but this truly is the simplest strawberry tart. It’s all about the contrasting textures of crisp crust, creamy cheese and juicy strawberries, so make sure to assemble the tart right before you serve it so the crust doesn’t get soggy.

You’ll need:

For the pie crust
1 1/3 cups 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 tart
1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
1 pound small sweet strawberries
1 cup mascarpone
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons high-quality strawberry jam

For the pie crust
Whisk the flour 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.

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.

If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl. Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons 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.

Press the dough together, then split it in half. Form each half into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least two hours before using, but preferably overnight. Keeps for up to three months in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

For the tart
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the pie crust disk into an oval about 15 by 6 inches wide 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. Prick holes all over 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.

While the crust is cooling, combine the mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Hull the strawberries and slice them into 1/4-inch slices.

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, then arrange the sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining tablespoon of sugar (omit this final sprinkling if your strawberries are particularly sweet), slice and serve immediately.

Simple Strawberry Tart

Thank you so much, Yossy! Your new cookbook is beautiful.

P.S. More tasty recipes, including ricotta ice cream with strawberries and mascarpone cheesecake.

(Recipe excerpted from Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi, published by Ten Speed Press. This series is edited by Stella Blackmon.)