To me, there's something so satisfying about making a pie. I know a lot of people get intimidated by the process, but personally, I find it relaxing. I've given up the notion that there is one perfect way to make a crust.
I've tried them all - food processor, rolling out the butter, using vodka - and to me, they all give a great result. For me, it's about the process that I'm comfortable with. I like to make my dough from start to finish using only my hands. I feel much more in control of what I'm doing and how the dough should turn out. I can feel the size of butter, the dryness or wetness of the dough, and what I need to adjust. Flours vary, temperature and humidity varies, which I why I like to stick to an exact amount of flour and butter, but let the current conditions dictate the amount of water I use. This technique almost always produces a crust to be proud of. When I let myself get flustered or I try and follow a recipe to the tee, it is then that things start to crack.
I've been trying to incorporate more stress reducing activities in my life. Things have gotten wildly hectic in my head, as I try and sort through some thoughts on life and in general. I've been trying to heal from the passing of a grandparent, dealing with some health issues, and the lack of sun in Seattle. We got a new car a few weeks ago, which has helped tremendously with my day to day feelings. Sebastian and I are now able to get out of the house and adventure, which is exatly what we are needing. I've turned to baking as a comfort and a way to make me feel productive.
This week I had this desire to make a tart. For no other reason than I was craving a tart. I filled it with frozen raspberries and topped it with a brown sugar streusel and chopped almonds. The filling stayed together perfectly, no oozing out the sides. The brown sugar streusel breaks up the tartness from the raspberry, but I do believe you could also serve with a vanilla ice cream and that would do the trick.
RASPBERRY ALMOND STREUSEL TART
makes 1 - 13" rectangular tart
prep time: 60 minutes
cooking time: 55 minutes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp vodka
2 tbsp ice cold water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place a cookie sheet on the bottom shelf.
In a medium size bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and crumble into the flour with your fingers until you have tiny pea-size pieces. Slowly add the vodka and cold water while stirring with a fork. Knead the dough together with your hands into a smooth ball. Wrap in Saran wrap, flatten into a disk and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the streusel ingredients with a fork until you have a fairly thick slightly crumbly mixture with large chunky pieces. Set to the side.
Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface, moving quickly, remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a rectangle slightly larger than the 13" tart pan. Place the dough into the tart pan and press into the base and up the sides. Trim away and excess. Place the tart shell into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Remove the tart shell from the freezer. Fill it with the raspberries. Sprinkle the streusel on top followed by the almonds.
Place the tart into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes at 400ºF. Reduce the heat to 375ºF and bake for an additional 45 minutes until the streusel is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing. Slice and serve.