Grape Tart

The grapes vines that climb up a wall of my house are very old. I think they were planted in 1912 when the house was built. Every spring my father pruned them with great care and the branches have become so vigorous that every year they become an invading force that covers the side of my house almost reaching the roof. The vines produce bunches of black grapes that no one harvests because they are very tart and therefore ill-suited for wine making. This type of grape vine is called “bacò”, which is appreciated by the birds that feed off it until the very last grape.

Some years ago in a famous restaurant in Trieste I had lunch on the beach under a pergola of the same variety of grapes that grow on my house. At the end of the lunch, I was offered a tart for dessert with grapes from the vine. Naturally, I tasted it with great curiosity and was happy that I finally discovered a way to use the grapes. Bacò Grape Tart has become a September staple and my family is always eager to taste it. My nephews, Enrico and Luca never want to miss this event and are always ready to pick the grapes.

In this recipe contrasts of the tartness of the bacò grapes with the sweetness of the custard. Bacò grapes can be replaced by merlot grapes or other varieties or you can ask some farmers to allow you to collect two or three clusters to use for this tart.

If you are unable to find this ingredient, you can use red table grapes, but the result may not be as special.

GRAPE TART
Preparation time: 60 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes
(For 8 people)

Base paste:
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
9 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup of sugar
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
half lemon for the zest
salt
cold water

Custard:
3 ¼ cups of whole milk
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 lemon peel
2 or 3 bunches of grapes (depending on their size)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the base for the tart, as explained in the recipe “Cake with Three Raisins”. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, then roll out the dough with a rolling pin and use your hands to form a shape that looks like a bunch of grapes. With a small piece of dough, form a grape leaf. This will cook on a sheet of parchment paper that covers one of the oven grills. This way you can cook both things at once. Cook for about 20 minutes. The edges of the dough should be golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the custard. Heat the milk with a piece of lemon peel and right before it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
  4. Add the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl. Work the mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes soft, then add the cornstarch and mix again. Slowly pour the milk mixture and mix thoroughly. Put on the stove and stirring constantly to thicken the cream. Turn off the heat, to cool the cream, stirring frequently to avoid lumps.
  5. Wash and dry the grapes. Take off the grapes from the bunch and place them on a plate. When the crust and cream have cooled you can start to make the cake. Spread the custard over the crust and add the grapes on top in a way that you cover the custard evenly. Finally, add the grape leaf.

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2 Responses to Grape Tart

  1. Sara says:

    How interesting. You know, I rarely if ever think to bake with grapes, though I’ve been meaning to before the concord grapes are out of season (time is running out I’m afraid!). So this is really intriguing. Nice presentation too!

    • Daniela Francescuitto says:

      I am happy my recipe has you intrigued! I’m sure it will also be delicious with concord grapes. I hope you try it and let me know how it turns out. Since you like artichokes and sardines, you should also try anchovies packed in olive oil, they are also a fantastic typical Italian product. Next month you will find two recipes for some quick crostini with these canned products. I saw your blog and I understand that you are attentive to recipes with vegetables and fresh ingredients and I like that very much. But anyway, every once in awhile, a canned product of quality helps in times of fatigue.

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