Written by Chris –
Mouth-puckering when raw, rhubarb really blossoms when it’s cooked and sweetened. This Free-Form Strawberry Rhubarb Tart has a fine balance of sweet and sour that makes you crave another bite. Trust me on this!
A free-form tart is basically a single layer of buttery pie dough folded up around fruit, and then baked. If you are at all intimidated by fluting a pie crust or using a tart pan, you must try a free-form tart! All you need is a rimmed baking sheet and parchment paper.
The crust is simple: flour, butter, salt and water. I experimented with different flours and really liked white whole-wheat flour but my taster’s had a slight preference for all-purpose flour. I also tried adding a little sugar but found that it made the crust a bit too fragile. Sparkling sugar is added to the dough prior to baking, so this adds additional sweetness and crunch. If you prefer a gluten-free crust, this should work just fine! Or you can go the super easy route by using ready-made pastry shells. Our recipe editor made this tart over the weekend using two pastry shells (this is how they are packaged). She stacked the pastry shells on floured piece of parchment paper and rolled into a 12-inch circle.
A note about the delicious filling: I’ve made this type of tart on several occasions and each time some of the liquid leaks out of the crust. I’ve found this to be normal with free-form fruit-filled tarts. The tart is baked on a piece of parchment paper, so the cleanup is pretty minimal. But I wanted to find a way to reduce the leakage. I ended up macerating the strawberries and rhubarb in a little sugar first. Macerating sweetens up the fruit and draws out some of the moisture. So I ended up draining the syrupy liquid that formed, then added back more sugar plus cornstarch. There was still a little leakage, but not as much this time. I was pleased with the end result!
Rhubarb can be found from late winter through spring with a peak season from April to June. The deep red color in rhubarb lets you know this is a food full of immunity-boosting nutrients. It’s rich in vitamin C, which is known to prevent infections. It’s also high in dietary fiber, proven to be good for heart health. Once picked, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Strawberries are available year round, but I think they are at their best right this very moment! Their peak season is April to June. You can check out more strawberry tips in this post.
Once baked, this tart is best eaten warm, or within a couple hours. Leftovers can be reheated in a 350° F oven for a few minutes. I think you will find that it’s delicious on its own, but it’s even better with vanilla ice cream (especially when it starts to melt and pool on the fruit!).
Ingredients for 8 servings:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
- 1 pound rhubarb (about 5 medium stalks), washed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- White sparkling sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Vanilla DREYER’S or EDY’S SLOW CHURNED Light Ice Cream
PLACE flour and salt in a food processor; pulse to combine (or whisk by hand in a large bowl). Scatter butter over the top; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (or cut in with pastry blender). Continue to pulse (or mix with a fork), adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the dough holds together when pinched with fingers (mixture will be crumbly).
TRANSFER dough to a floured cutting board or counter and gather into a ball; slightly flatten into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes so that it’s easier to roll (can hold in refrigerator up to one day but be sure to let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften).
PLACE dough between two large, floured pieces of parchment or wax paper; roll to a 12-inch circle (think rustic here; it doesn’t need to be perfect). Remove top piece of parchment paper. Place dough with parchment on rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate while you make the filling.
PREHEAT oven to 400° F.
COMBINE rhubarb, strawberries and ¼ cup sugar in large bowl; toss gently to coat. Allow to macerate for at least 20 minutes. Drain liquid from bowl.
ADD remaining 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch to bowl and stir until starch has dissolved.
SPOON rhubarb mixture into center of dough, leaving a 3-inch border around the edge of the fruit.
FOLD outermost dough over fruit, pleating every 2 to 3 inches as needed; gently pinch pleated dough to secure. Working quickly, brush dough with a little water then sprinkle evenly with sparkling sugar.
BAKE for 45 to 55 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling (some of strawberries and rhubarb will have a roasted appearance – so delicious!). If you don’t want the berries or rhubarb to get roasted, just place a piece of aluminum foil over the fruit during the last 15 minutes of baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. To serve, use metal spatula to loosen tart from parchment and remove parchment if desired.
CUT into wedges. Top each serving with small scoop of ice cream.
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