Springtime...and a Tart

Pear and Strawberry Tart

My mother has given up trying to plant anything beautiful in the yard of hers. Too much bad dirt, she says. Stunted apple trees and peaches that never seem to ripen in any hurry. Grapevines that choke the chickenwire fencing. The ground is shale, the rocks are jagged. The dirt is bad. The earth is worn down by the creekbed.

My mother gave up on making a garden, so she buys her produce from the dollar store. She buys flowers to hang from the porch rafters. She waters them with a soda cup she got at the gas station in town.  A bird’s nest pops up one afternoon and then baby birds pop up the next. One fell out of the nest and my dad threw it out behind the fence so the dogs wouldn’t get it. He didn’t tell my mom, kept it a secret from her I guess you could say.

There isn’t anything beautiful in that yard of hers.

Pear and Strawberry Tart

Not that it’s promised, it never has been. The shale is rough and cuts up the hands. Grass grows in patches until late June, when it springs all at once. Then the dandelions, then the peach trees, then the snow. It’s a cycle I forgot. One I witness from my bedroom window. I’m staying here for a while, until my sister has her baby and I know what the hell it is I want out of life.

But it rained for three weeks straight and I drove the turnpike with my sunglasses on until eight at night. The mountaintops in the distance have steam on their fingertips and the bees that built their hive by the mailbox are plump and greedy. Lazy, tired. They don’t move when I draw the red mailbox arm up. They don’t move when my father comes home with a pizza for dinner. They dance along the mulch and draw cuneiforms in response to rainclouds. They know tomorrow it might rain. They know tomorrow their queen may be washed away. They know that the bird behind the fence might still be there and there’s nothing to do about it but wait for the grass to grow and the peach trees to twist their thirsty branches up, up, upwards.

It’s springtime in Pennsylvania. And I forgot how its reality comes in waves of dreams and pigment. In flashes of thunderstorms and screen doors slamming shut. It’s springtime and I wear a sweater on the porchswing. I avoid the baby birds, the beestings, and mailman. I sit and squint my eyes, wondering if it’s just as beautiful down the road as it is right here in this moment.

Pear and Strawberry Tart

Pear and Strawberry Tart

Ingredients for Fruit Filling

  • 2 pears (preferably Bosc), cored and sliced thinly
  • 8-10 medium-sized strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Gran Marnier (option, but I had some leftover from this post, so I said why not)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions for Fruit Filling

  1. In a large bowl, gently mix all ingredients together to macerate strawberries and infuse the pears
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour
  3. While waiting, work on crust

Ingredients for Crust

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1¾ cup AP flour
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoon ice water (fill a small glass of ice water and scoop out from it as you go instead of measuring beforehand)

Directions for Crust

  1. In a food processor, pulse together all ingredients except the ice water 5-8 times or until the fat is processed to the size of a pea
  2. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in ice water, one tablespoon at a time. When dough begins to come together, stop motor
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and pat into a disc
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour

Ingredients for Ricotta Topping

  • ½ cup ricotta, full-fat
  • 2 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions for Ricotta Topping

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined

Pear and Strawberry Tart

Assembly and baking instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil
  2. Take rested dough out of the oven and roll into a round that is roughly ¼ inch thick (will be about 14” in diameter)
  3. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet
  4. Spoon fruit filling into center of round and allow for a one or two inch edge around the circumference
  5. Fold edges inwards to keep the filling in
  6. Dot the fruit filling with ricotta mixture
  7. Mix one egg with a little water and brush the dough with your egg wash
  8. Sprinkle with a little more white sugar
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden and brown
  10. Serve immediately, but can keep for about 4 days

Pear and Strawberry Tart
Pear and Strawberry Tart