A simple strawberry tart recipe from Sweeter off the Vine that celebrates the very best of strawberry season. Jump to recipe.
To thumb through Sweeter off the Vine is to wander through a year of gorgeous food. Yossy Arefi’s photos overflow with tactile details and beautiful elements from each season – clear light shining on a basket of June blueberries or fall gloom surrounding a crate of pears. True to the book’s title, we see countless fruits hanging from vines and branches as she leads us through her favorite orchards and markets. We flip the page to find those same Concord grapes or apples baked into a pie covered by a golden brown crust flecked with big grains of sugar or nestled into a tender cake.
It’s this juxtaposition – living, thriving fruit on the vine being transformed into beautiful celebratory food that gives this book such heart.
The best food is more than the sum of its ingredients; it’s an experience. It speaks to the season, the weather, the air, but mostly, the best food is the story of how it grew and was picked and cooked and eaten. Sweeter off the Vine brings this to life in stunning detail.
Though I love the focus on place and season, the recipes are what really make this book a delight. Yossy’s book is filled with delicious recipes for home cooks at every level. Tarts, pies, and hand pies with Yossy’s signature golden crusts abound; there are brunch cakes, birthday cakes, and a chocolate fig cake that would be just right for either occasion. There are simple granitas and sumptuous ice creams, a delicate semi freddo, and fruit-laden pavlovas. And at the core of each beautiful recipe is a sense of place and time. With Yossy’s help, we can cook in the moment no matter the time of year.
As I thumbed through my copy, I was torn about what to share. Citrus season is winding down, and local spring produce hasn’t yet arrived. In the end, an occasion dictated the recipe – we were celebrating Brian’s birthday and so I jumped the gun a little bit with this strawberry mascarpone tart. (I know I’ve just gone on and on about place and season, but winter is long on the East Coast, so when organic California strawberries arrive at the supermarket, I indulge.)
This tart – called The Simplest Strawberry Tart – surpassed our expectations. A single layer of rye pie crust is baked to a deep golden hue, slathered with sweetened mascarpone, and lined with fresh sliced berries. It was pretty and simple and delicious, and happily, the thin layers of the tart supported a few birthday candles beautifully.
- 1 recipe Rye Pie Crust (recipe below)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
- 1 pound small sweet strawberries
- 1 cup mascarpone (225 g)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used turbinado)
- 3 tablespoons high-quality strawberry jam
Position a rack at the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out pie crust disk into an oval about 15 by 6-inches and just under 1/4-inch thick. Use a paring knife or pastry cutter to trim any rough edges. Move parchment sheet and crust to a baking sheet. Dock 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 egg wash.
Bake the dough until it is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Check on the crust halfway though baking and if any bubbles have appeared, use a spatula to press them flat. Cool the crust completely on the pan.
While crust cools, combine mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Hull strawberries and slice into 1/4-inch slices.
Move cooled pie crust to a serving platter or board and spread mascarpone over the top in an even layer, dot with jam, then arrange sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle tart with the remaining tablespoon of sugar (omit this final sprinkling if your strawberries are particularly sweet), slice, and serve immediately.
A nutty all-butter rye crust recipe. *Note that crust requires 2 hours to chill.
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (85 g)
- 2/3 cup rye flour (85 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 - 5 tablespoons ice water
Whisk 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 form 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 4 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 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. Form each into a disk, and wrap 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 a layer of foil. Thaw in refrigerator before using.
Disclosure: A copy of Sweeter off the Vine was provided to me by Ten Speed Press. As always, all opinions are my own.