Free-Form Puff Pastry Strip With Fruit

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Atreasure chest of dazzling glazed fresh fruits could adorn the center of your table elegantly—until it’s time for dessert.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (approximately recipe) puff pastry
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 6 cups fresh fruit
  • cup cherry jelly
  • Peppermint leaves

Baking Equipment

Two 12-x-15½-x-½-inch baking sheets

Method

Advance Preparation

Prepare the puff pastry. Refrigerate it for up to 2 days before using.

Roiling the Puff Pastry

At least 1 hour before baking, roll the puff pastry into an 8-x-15-inch, -inch-thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

Roll the dough up loosely on a rolling pin and transfer it to a baking sheet. Cover surface completely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before shaping.

Shaping the Puff Pastry

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Prepare an egg wash glaze by beating the egg in a small bowl briefly with a fork just to combine the yolk and white.

Remove chilled puff pastry sheet from refrigerator and trim 1/16-inch from the two long edges with a ruler and pastry wheel. Lift and transfer the trimmed rectangle of dough to the parchment-lined pan.

With the ruler as a guide and using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut off two ¾-inch-wide strips from length of pastry. Lightly brush each long side of pastry rectangle with the egg wash (avoid using too much, or instead of sticking, the dough will slip). Turn one of the strips upside down and place it on top of an egg-washed area, setting it 1/16 inch in from the edge. Press in the strip gently with your fingertips so that it will adhere to the pastry base. Repeat with the other strip. Avoid stretching the strips when you put them on the base; otherwise, they will shrink shorter than the base during baking. (You turn each strip upside down before positioning because the pressure from the knife or pastry wheel compresses each strip’s edge, affecting its even rise in the oven.)

Using the dull side of a paring knife, press slanted lines along the sides of the two pieces of puff pastry at -inch intervals. This creates a fringelike effect that unifies the strip to the base along the two long sides of the tart. Brush the top of each strip with a thin coat of egg wash (not down the sides) and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before baking.

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Baking the Puff Pastry Strips

At least 20 minutes before baking, position rack in lower third of oven; preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the free-form strip from the refrigerator. Trim each short end even. Prick close together over the entire surface of the strip’s base, using a pastry docker or the tines of a fork. (Pricking in this instance keeps the base from puffing too much, causing the strips to be kicked off.) Apply a second coat of egg wash to the strips; then poke the tip of the paring knife straight down into each strip in three or four places. These slits serve the same purpose as pricking.

Place in the preheated oven and bake 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees, and bake for 10 minutes longer. Especially during the initial 15 to 20 minutes of baking, check the strips lift. If necessary, prick the area with a skewer to release any trapped air.

Reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the pastry is golden brown and sounds and feels crisp when pierced in two or three places with a skewer, signifying it is baked through. Remove from oven; lift parchment with the pastry to a rack to cool completely.

Filling the Puff Pastry Strip and Serving

Pour the jelly into a 3-quart mixing bowl. Add the fresh fruit and toss. (The jelly holds the fruit together in the baked shell as well as providing gloss.) Fill the strip with the fruit. Decorate with peppermint leaves.

Serve the day assembled, cutting the entire pastry into 2- to 3-inch-wide strips.