The Key to Easy Summer Baking Is in the Freezer Aisle

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For sweet tarts, tossing juicy summer fruit with a little cornstarch will bind the liquid and keep it from leaking, but there’s no exact science on what amount you should use. Sliced ripe stone fruit and rhubarb need more, while berries and cherries need a little less. (Skip the cornstarch entirely for apples and firm pears if you’re looking toward autumn.) Two to three tablespoons per quart of sliced fruit should do it.

Sugar amounts are similarly variable. Plan for about two to five tablespoons sugar per quart of fruit, bearing in mind that ripe July peaches will need less sugar than rhubarb and puckery raspberries. Taste your fruit before adding the sugar, then wing it. If the tart ends up too sweet, you can top it with crème fraîche for tang. And if it’s not quite sweet enough, a little ice cream goes a long way.

Now that you’ve figured out what to put on top of your pastry, here’s my trick for enhancing its underside. For savory tarts, I sprinkle a layer of grated cheese on the pan before adding the dough. The cheese melts and browns, giving the bottom crust the taste and texture of a giant cheese straw. For fruit tarts, I use a sprinkle of Demerara sugar, which caramelizes, turning candylike and pleasingly brittle.

Whether you go with a savory or sweet tart, be sure to serve it either still slightly warm, or within a few hours of baking. That’s when a puff pastry tart is at its crispest and most-compelling best.

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Just as you can casually use whatever vegetables you have on hand to top this tart, you can drink any crisp, lively white wine or dry rosé you happen to have in your fridge. Sauvignon blanc, wherever it comes from? Sure. A Chablis or Mâconnais would be great, as would any number of Italian, Spanish, Greek or Portuguese whites. I think aligoté would be delicious, as would rosés from all over. If you use a lot of onions, try a riesling. I would steer clear of overly rich or oaky wines, as they would not slice through the richness of the tart. You could drink sparkling wines, too, as long as they fit into that lively category. I wouldn’t choose a red, but you could enjoy a basic Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages with this. ERIC ASIMOV

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