Francine Schneider, a Westhoffen farmer's wife, has built quite a reputation throughout Alsace for her fruit tarts, featured at Marlenheim's Le Cerf. Recipes like this one hearken back to the days when farmers stored grapes in their attics.
FOR THE FILLING:
1 1/2 lbs. red or green seedless grapes,
washed and removed from stems
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tbsp. sugar
FOR THE PASTRY:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
7 tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into pieces
2 tbsp. shortening, cut into pieces
1. Prick grapes with a fork, then place in a large bowl. Add sugar and mix well. Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside to macerate at room temperature for about 3 hours. Drain if necessary.
2. For pastry, combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 2 tbsp. ice water, 1 tbsp. at a time, and mix until dough holds together. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Roll dough into a 12'' round on a floured surface. Ease into a 9'' tart pan with a removeable bottom. Trim edges, allowing a 1/2'' overhang, then fold and crimp. Scatter grapes in a single layer on pastry. Bake until crust begins to color, about 40 minutes.
4. Mix together eggs and crème fraîche in a small bowl. Pour mixture evenly over grapes and continue baking until filling begins to set, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle sugar on top and bake until filling is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Variation: For Schneider's equally renowned tarte aux griottes (cherry tart), pick through and pit 1 1/2 lbs. sour cherries. Place in a large bowl and add about 1/2 cup sugar, depending on the sourness of the cherries. Proceed as for grapes in step 1, above.