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Summer, Berries and Baking

Beautiful blackberry and rose tart

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The summer sun still shines brightly as it does every summer but this year is missing the sound of children laughing at the playground. Although I can hear the fireworks popping now and then, they are not as festive as they used to be. We are all experiencing this new lifestyle together and we all try to make the best of it. Since shelter in place began in March, I've found baking brightens my days. 

Lately my friends and neighbors have been sharing their homegrown herbs, cherries, lemons, rhubarb, blueberries and blackberries with us. I am filled with so much joy when I bake pies, scones, cakes and tarts to be shared at home or given away, sometimes with the people who brought me the fruits and herbs they're made of. Food brings people together (6 feet apart) during this heavy time. This week I made blueberry and blackberry tarts using the same basic recipe; both turned out lovely. With the refreshing, cool taste of berries, lemon and rose, it's delicious on a warm day. There are local blueberry farms with plenty of bushes to pick from and wild blackberries are abundant on the vine, waiting to be picked soon. We can still get out to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, share something sweet and stay healthy.

Blackberry Rose Tart 

For 10-inch tart pan. If you do not want the rose flavor, skip the rose syrup and petals by adding 1/2 cup of maple syrup instead.

For the crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour 

½ cup almond flour

¾ cup powdered sugar 

1 ½ stick (6 ounces) salted butter, melted but not hot

For the filling:

4 cups blackberries, rinsed

1 cup white sugar 

1 cup coconut cream 

¼ cup rose syrup 

½ cup fresh backyard rose petals (optional; make sure they have not been treated with pesticide)

1 teaspoon lemon zest 

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 envelopes plain Knox gelatin 

½ cup cold water 

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 F.

To make the crust: Mix both flours and the powdered sugar together, stir in the butter and gently mix well to form dough. Press the dough into a well-greased tart pan. Cover the dough with parchment paper and place pie weights (or dried beans or rice) on top so the crust doesn't puff up.

Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper before baking another 10 min until golden brown. Set the crust aside to cool on a wire rack. 

Put the berries in a blender and pulse until only small chunks remain. Pour the blended berries in a medium saucepan and add the sugar, coconut cream, rose syrup, petals, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir and boil the mixture for 5 minutes, then simmer for 10 minutes.

While the berry mixture cooks, mix the gelatin and water in a separate bowl. Let the gelatin bloom for 10 minutes, then add it to the berry mixture. Mix well. Strain the berry mixture if you want a smoother texture.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with berries and edible flowers if you're feeling fancy and enjoy.

You can find Home Cooking with Wendy Chan classes benefitting local charities on Facebook. She prefers she/her.

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