Last month, Ruth Reichl, food writer extraordinaire and the last editor-in-chief of the now shuttered Gourmet magazine, rounded up her 10 favorite recipes from her magazine years for Epicurious. It’s possible I’ve never clicked on a link faster. I adored the magazine; in my early years here, it really helped me crystalize a vision of what I love in cooking and do not. I cooked so many of the recipes — and yet, almost none of these. A raspberry crumble tart by Ruth Cousineau in August 2006 (just weeks before I launched SK) in particular jumped off the page. Reichl writes:
From the first moment I tasted this tart, I knew I’d be serving it again and again. I love the simplicity of the recipe, which allows the fruit to shine. I love the way it looks—a gorgeous burst of vibrant color peeking out of a shaggy top. And I really appreciate that you can use the most insipid supermarket raspberries (they emerge from the heat of the oven with a surprising intensity of flavor).
People, I ended up making it three times this week. (It helped that my store’s insipid berries have been on sale.) Here is what’s cool about this recipe: there are only seven ingredients and two are salt and water, which don’t even count. The remaining ingredients — flour, butter, sugar, almonds, and fresh raspberries — are as basic as can be. There’s no sugar in the berries and no thickener, you don’t macerate them, and the end result is that they’re not runny so there’s no liquid to contain or to fret about sogging the bottom crust. You make a simple butter-flour mixture, divide it in half, and form half into a pie crust base. You don’t don’t even need to parbake it (birds are singing!), you simply fill it with a heap of fresh raspberries and cover them with an avalanche of a loose, sugary crumble (that you’ve made from the second half of the butter-flour mixture) and this bakes onto and into the berries, mingling with any juices that release, and crisping shaggily all over.
It’s not hard see why Ruth Reichl likes it so much. It tastes grown-up. Not goopy, not heavy, not too sweet or excessively tart (using very ripe berries helps; they’re sweeter). It celebrates raspberries in such an uncluttered way, I immediately made them two more times, including one that’s slab pie-sized. I have no idea what we’re doing this weekend yet, but I know they’re coming along.
One year ago: Ice Cream Cake Roll
Two years ago: Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake and Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad
Three years ago: Almond-Rhubarb Picnic Bars
Four years ago: Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, Fake Shack Burger, and Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles
Five years ago: Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
Six years ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano and Two Classic Sangrias
Seven years ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice and Tzatziki Potato Salad
Eight years ago: Classic Cobb Salad, Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits
Nine years ago: Asparagus, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Ten years ago: Martha’s Mac-and-Cheese, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Eleven years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Twelve years ago: Homemade Oreos and Cellophane Noodle and Roast Pork Salad
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Cabbage and Mushroom “Lasagna”
1.5 Years Ago: Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
2.5 Years Ago: Cheesecake Marbled Pumpkin Slab Pie and Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad
3.5 Years Ago: Date, Feta, and Red Cabbage Salad and Pecan Pie
4.5 Years Ago: Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce and Crispy Sweet Potato Roast
Raspberry Crumble Tart Bars
I changed a bunch of things about the recipe, so if you’re loyal to the original, look away now. First, it’s created for what I consider an unusual tart pan size (11 1/4 by 8-inch), which I have, but that doesn’t help most other people. You could also make it in a 10-inch round but I liked the idea of turning these into bars, since they’re so much more picnic-and-potluck friendly. Below, I’m sharing a scaled-down recipe for an 8×8-inch pan (or a 9-inch round pan, if you want to serve it in wedges). Give me a shout if you’d like the scaled-up recipe for 9×13-inch slab tart bars and I’ll add it. Making tart-height walls (1-inch) in a taller cake pan is a little fussy, but totally doable, and this recipe is forgiving. There’s a general belief that if you don’t parbake a bottom crust, it will be soggy, but all three of mine are crisp underneath — and even more so when the tart cools before I cut it, thanks to the unheavy and unsoggy filling.
If nuts are an issue, you can skip them, or I’d recommend replacing them with an equal weight of toasted coconut flakes, roughly chopped.
- 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) whole toasted almonds
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons cold water, plus an additional tablespoon, if needed
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries (18 ounces or about 4.5 cups)
Make the bars without a machine: Roughly chop almonds and set aside. Place your flour and salt in the bottom of a large bowl and stir to combine. Add your butter cubes to the flour mixture. Toss them around so that they’re coated and used your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the largest butter bits are the size of small peas. You can also use a pastry blender to achieve this.
Make the bars in a food processor: Pulse almonds in your food processor until coarsely chopped. Set them aside and lightly wipe crumbs from workbowl. Add flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse the machine in short bursts until the the largest butter bits are the size of small peas.
Both methods: Divide butter-flour mixture into two bowls (each will have 1 1/2 cups of crumbs). Drizzle cold water over first bowl, use a spoon or spatula to mix it into shaggy clumps, then use your hands to quickly, gently knead it together into one ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flattening it a packet shape. Chill for 1 hour, or until firm.
Add sugar and chopped almonds to second bowl of butter-flour mixture and use your fingertips to pinch them together, mashing up the buttery bits, until a loosely clumped streusel is formed. Set this aside. At this point, you can refrigerate both the crumbs and the dough overnight (and up to 3 days) and bake it when needed.
Assemble your bars: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 8×8-inch cake pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom and two sides with a fitted piece of parchment paper. You can also make this in a 9- to 9.5-inch round tart pan. No need to line the bottom with parchment paper if there’s a removable base.
On a well-floured counter, unwrap your packet of dough, sprinkle the top generously with flour, and roll you dough to a 10×10-inch square (or a 13-inch round for a round pan). Gently fold it into quarters and unfold it into your prepared pan, centering the dough as best as you can. Press into the bottom of the pan and 1-inch up the sides, folding the extra dough over the walls and pressing it against the sides to reinforce the edges. Don’t worry if it’s messy — mine totally was. The only thin you want to avoid is holes or tears; patch any that you see.
Fill base with berries and sprinkle evenly with crumble topping. It will seem like too much but it’s going to be perfect once it bakes.
Bake bars: For 40 to 50 minutes, covering with foil if it browns before it’s done. Bars are done when they’re an even golden brown and (this is the most important part) you can see the berry juices bubbling through the crumbs. Let cool for 20 minutes on a cooling rack, then use the parchment sling to lift bars out of pan and cool the rest of the way on the rack. (Or, if using a tart pan with removable sides, remove them now.)
To serve: Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if you wish, and use a serrated knife to cut into squares (or if a round pan, wedges). Bars keep at room temperature or the fridge, lightly wrapped, for 5 days.
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