From America's Test Kitchen
Few things are better than a summer fruit pie, but that takes time (and skill). What we wanted was simple: a buttery, flaky crust paired with juicy summer fruit—a lazy recipe, one that produced both crust and fruit with half the work of a regular pie. A free-form tart—a single layer of buttery pie dough folded up around fresh fruit—seemed the obvious solution.
Without the support of a pie plate, tender crusts are prone to leak juice, and this results in soggy bottoms. For our crust, we used a high proportion of butter to flour, which provided the most buttery flavor and tender texture without compromising the structure. We then turned to a French technique in pastry making called fraisage. To begin, butter is only partially cut into the dry ingredients. Then, with the heel of the hand, the cook presses the barely mixed dough firmly against the counter. As a result, the chunks of butter are pressed into long, thin sheets that create lots of flaky layers when the dough is baked. We rolled the dough into a 12-inch circle, which produced a crust that was thick enough to contain a lot of fruit but thin enough to bake evenly and thoroughly. We placed the fruit in the middle, then lifted the dough up and back over the fruit (the center of the tart remained exposed) and pleated it loosely to allow for shrinkage. The bright summer fruit needed only the simple addition of sugar.
Makes 4 tartlets
Though we prefer the tartlets made with a mix of stone fruits and berries (our favorite combinations were plums and raspberries, peaches and blueberries, and apricots and blackberries), you can use only one type of fruit if you prefer. Peeling the stone fruit (even the peaches) is not necessary. Taste the fruit before adding sugar to it; use the lesser amount if the fruit is very sweet, more if it is tart. However much sugar you use, do not add it to the fruit until you are ready to fill and form the tart. Once baked, the tartlets are best eaten warm, or within 3 or 4 hours, although leftovers do reheat well in a 350-degree oven. Excellent accompaniments are vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.