Cranberry Tarts in Puff Paste

You may choose to make both the filling and pastry ahead and store in the fridge up to two days before forming and baking the tart, if convenient.

Filling

  • 3 cups fresh local cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook five or ten minutes, or until berries have exploded and made a sauce. Put aside to cool thoroughly before making tart.

Pastry

  • 10 ounces unbleached white flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cold butter, cut in bits (or half lard)
  • ½ cup ice water, approximately

You may use a large wooden bowl with a crescent-bladed hand chopper, as in mid-nineteenth-century Plymouth, or a food processor. Place the flour and salt in the bowl and chop in 8 ounces of fat until the flour looks like coarse meal. (If using the food processor, pulse 12 to 15 times.)

Add the water, holding back a few drops, tossing the dough with a fork or knife until lumps cling together. Quickly push them into a ball, adding more drops of water to the dry parts if necessary. If using the food processor, pulse quickly, and stop and push dough together with a fork or knife, rather than letting the machine work the dough at all. Once it’s all in a ball, cut it in two and wrap each ball of dough tightly in plastic wrap and store it airtight in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

To construct and bake

  • a nutmeg, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one of the balls of pastry to an even 1/8th-inch thickness. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate, and fill with the cool cranberry sauce. Grate over nutmeg, if you feel like it.

Roll out the other half and simply use as a sheet (with a hole cut in the center) for the top crust. Or cut it into strips and apply as a lattice or “bars”, for the top of the pie. (There are period examples of both treatments, as well as pastry leaves and flowers and curlicues and even “mottos” or the initials of the tart’s recipient. Not to mention baking circular or triangular cranberry tarts in puff paste without pans. As the poet says, “bedecked with paste”, right? So go crazy.)

Crimp the edge of the pie to seal, and bake 50-60 minutes, or until filling is bubbling in the center, and the pastry is golden brown.

Makes 1 9-inch pie.

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