This is not a fancy tart. It’s not one of those gorgeous, fresh-fruit-and-custard puff pastry things that looks like a piece of art. I’ll make you one of those one of these days. Don’t get me wrong: Those are lovely, too. But, this…this is messy and delicious and is the kind of thing that you want to eat in the kitchen, sticky and standing up, because you just can’t wait.
The filling is light and fresh. The black pepper and thyme accent the sweetness of the berries and the jam.
The puff pastry is glazed with a basic egg wash, then dusted with sugar laced with ground cardamom.
This tart is kind of runny when it comes out of the oven, but it sets up nicely as it cools in the fridge. The sauce thickens to a syrupy consistency. The whole thing is unbelievably light and crisp and kind of like a danish.
If you wanted to firm the sauce up, you could whisk a little cornstarch into the apricot jam after microwaving.
Like I said, this tart is great on its own. Take it over the top with some fresh whipped cream and a pitcher of frosty mimosas.
Strawberry Brunch Tart with Thyme and Black Pepper
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 lb. fresh strawberries, sliced
3 Tbls. apricot jam
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
cracked black pepper
Makes 1 tart
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Strawberry Brunch Tart: Thaw the puff pastry
Set your puff pastry on the counter to thaw for 20-30 minutes.
While you’re waiting for it to thaw, make the cardamom sugar and slice up the berries.
Strawberry Brunch Tart: Make the cardamom sugar
Cardamom sugar is just like cinnamon sugar, except made with cardamom instead. It’s super yummy, and this recipe makes a little more than you’ll probably need. Tuck it away to sprinkle on buttered toast or pancakes.
Put the sugar in a small bowl. Add the cardamom to it.
With a fork or a whisk, mix the cardamom and sugar together until they’re evenly combined.
Set that aside while you deal with the berries.
Strawberry Brunch Tart: Slice and mix the berries
Put the apricot jam in a small bowl. Zap it in the microwave for maybe 20 seconds, to loosen it up oh-so-slightly. (No microwave? Heat it in a small pot over a very low flame for a minute or so, stirring until it breaks down.)
It should sort of liquify and look more jelly-like, like this, without getting too hot.
Slice up your strawberries and put them in a medium-sized bowl.
Pour the apricot jam over the strawberries.
Stir to coat the strawberries in apricot jam.
Toss in the thyme and the freshly cracked black pepper.
Stir to combine well. Set aside while you roll out the puff pastry.
Strawberry Brunch Tart: Prep the puff pastry
Lightly flour a board or your counter. If you have it, a slab of marble or granite is great for rolling out puff pastry, because it stays cold and will help keep it from sticking.
Unfold the puff pastry and roll it out a little to flatten it and seal any seams. This is a fairly rustic tart, so don’t make yourself nuts trying to roll it into a perfect square or rectangle.
Crack an egg into a bowl.
Whisk it with a fork to scramble it well.
With a pastry brush (or your fingers), spread the beaten egg along each edge of the puff pastry.
Fold one edge over about three-quarters of an inch or so.
Repeat with the other three sides, so that your puff pastry looks like it has a picture frame around it.
Brush the edges with beaten egg.
Sprinkle the whole thing (edges + center) with cardamom sugar.
Strawberry Brunch Tart: Fill and bake
Heap the strawberry mixture onto the center of the puff pastry. (Normally, with puff pastry, you’d prick the center of the pastry several times with a fork to keep it from poofing up in the oven. Do this if you like, but I’ve found that the weight of the berries will keep the pastry down in the middle.)
Keep the berries in the center, off the folded border that you made.
Don’t worry if you’ve piled them up high. They’ll shrink when they bake.
Pop the pan into your preheated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees.
It’s done when the edges have poofed up and have turned golden brown. The berries will cook down, but will still hold their shape.
When it’s done, yank the pan out of the oven. Let it cool for about 5 minutes on the pan.
Then slide it off onto a wire rack to cool.
Strawberry Brunch Tart: Cool the tart
If you can bear to wait, let it cool to room temperature on the counter, then pop it into the fridge to chill completely. (This will help the filling set up a little.)
To serve, slice into fat wedges. Devour at will.