To add interest and contrast, I like to combine summer berries with delicate buttery pastries. They get along so well. You can use whatever berry combination you prefer. The basil sugar in the filling adds a pleasant surprise. The basil doesn’t taste like much, but it adds another layer of flavor and makes the tarts more exciting and fresh. You could substitute stone fruit for the berries and make thyme sugar to go with it. If you don’t have any basil, you can substitute regular caster sugar. These tarts are fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For the crust.
- 150g flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 80g butter, diced
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
- 1 tbsp milk + 1 tsp sugar (to brush the crust before baking)
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add two tablespoons of water and process until the dough is firm but not wet or sticky. Process for no more than 30 seconds. If it’s still crumbly, add a little more water. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, divide it in half, and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
For the berry filling.
- 260g fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries)
- 2 heaped tbsp basil sugar (recipe below)
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
In a mixing bowl, combine the berries, basil, sugar, and lemon zest and set aside for 20 minutes to marinate. Butter four 10-cm tart rings.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
One-half of the chilled dough should be rolled out. Cut out circles slightly larger than your tart rings, and gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart rings with your fingers. Scrape the rest of the dough, knead it until it comes together, roll it out, and repeat. Spoon the filling, including any accumulated juices, into the bottoms of the tart shells in an even layer. Roll out the remaining half of the dough.
To make a lattice top, cut the dough into 5-6mm wide strips. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in a single direction, evenly spacing the strips. Fold every other strip gently back on itself before adding the remaining strips in the opposite direction. Fold the strips back down and repeat with the remaining strips until you have a complete lattice top.
Trim the overhang of the lattice to the diameter of the tart rings. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar on top. 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the tarts to cool before removing them from the tart rings.
Garnish with powdered sugar and fresh berries. Vanilla ice cream would also be delicious.
For the basil sugar.
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves
- 150g caster sugar
Wash and pat dry the basil leaves. Please pulse them in a food processor until very fine. Add the sugar and pulse until well combined. Transfer to a lidded jar and use in baking. You could also put it in the freezer.
Use whichever berries you prefer, but hurry while they’re still in season. There’s something magical and sexy about those plump juicy berries. I love combining them with delicate buttery pastries to create interest and contrasting textures. They work so well together. The element of surprise here is the basil sugar that I used in the filling.
Making herb sugar is simple. A fresh herb (basil, thyme, mint, lemon balm…), sugar, a food processor, and 5 minutes of your time are all you need. Herb sugars are a delicious way to add freshness and subtle flavor layers to your desserts. They also look fantastic. Once your herb sugar is ready, store it in a glass jar with a lid and use it to replace some or all of the sugar in your baking. Experiment. Let your hair down! That is the essence of summer.