Going Goaty, Part I: Strawberry Buttermilk (Or Kefir) Tart
2020 may very well be most remembered for the pandemic, but perhaps also for the Year of the Goat.
Maybe it was the early run on traditional baking and dairy supplies in March and April. Or maybe it’s the fact that with nowhere to go, people branched out in their tastes, longing for a taste of something new to combat the doldrums.
Whatever the case, the country’s two leading goat dairies are reporting a rise in sales. In fact, Meyenberg, the top producer of goat milk that sources from more than two dozen West Coast Dairies, saw its goat butter sales spike by 50 percent from last year. Its sales powdered goat milk also grew by 67 percent this year. Sonoma County’s Redwood Hill Farm also saw increases in sales of its goat yogurt and kefir.
I readily jumped on the goat milk bandwagon when Meyenberg and Redwood Hill Farms sent me some product samples to try.
Like fresh goat cheese, goat’s milk yogurt, kefir, and butter all have a subtle tang. If you think they may taste barnyard-like, you needn’t worry at all. The taste is quite mild.
Goat’s milk also has the added bonus of having a lower level of whey proteins than cow’s milk. So, people allergic to the latter can often digest the former much easier.
The lightly salted butter from Meyenberg is snowy white, almost looking like shortening. It’s very rich tasting, and has a lower melting point that cow’s milk butter, meaning it has the potential to make especially flaky crusts.
Kefir is like a drinkable yogurt. The creamy, smooth, fermented drink also can be used just like buttermilk, which inspired me to use it in this “Strawberry Buttermilk (Or Kefir) Tart.”
The recipe is from “The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook: Recipes and Reflections from a Small Vermont Dairy” (Andrews McMeel, 2013) by Diane St. Clair, the Vermont farm owner whose artisanal butter is used by Thomas Keller.
The original recipe uses buttermilk, cow’s milk butter, and raspberries. I used strawberries instead because I had them in abundance in the fridge. I also swapped out the buttermilk for kefir, and the cow’s milk butter for goat’s milk butter.
The goat’s butter and kefir definitely make for a flaky crust. Because this particular crust recipe incorporates only 4 tablespoons of butter but 1/2 cup of buttermilk or kefir, meaning quite a bit of liquid compared to most other recipes, it turns out quite sturdy after baking. You’ll have to wedge your fork into it with a bit of muscle to cut off a morsel to enjoy.
Even so, it’s a delicious tart that’s eye-catching with red berries prominent in a smooth, creamy, sunny filling. The pale yellow filling tastes a little like lemon curd, but less sharp with a mellower, rounder cheesecake-like character.
It makes for a perfect introduction to all things goaty.
Strawberry Buttermilk (Or Kefir) Tart
For buttermilk pie crust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice-cold buttermilk or kefir, measured ahead of time, and placed in the freezer for about 10 minutes
For rest of tart:
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced in half (or whole raspberries)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk or kefir
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the pie crust: Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
Cut the butter into 8 or 10 pieces and use a fork, a pastry cutter, or two knives to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in the buttermilk all at once. Gather the pastry into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap, pressing it down into a flat disk. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm. (At this point, you can refrigerate for up to 3 days, or store in the freezer for 3 weeks.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set a 10-inch fluted tart pan on a baking sheet.
When ready to use the dough, roll it out on a floured surface. Ideally roll forward with a wide stroke, then turn the dough a quarter turn and roll again, repeating until the dough is evenly rolled. This way, you don’t roll back and forth and possibly misshape your piecrust. You may need to sprinkle the work surface and the dough with a little more flour as you work, so it will turn readily.
Drape the rolled dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to the tart pan. Trim off excess with a paring knife.
Bake piecrust for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Let the crust cool slightly, and then spread the strawberries or raspberries in the crust.
To make filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour. Mix in the egg yolks and zest and lemon juice, and then beat in the butter. Whisk in the buttermilk or kefir and vanilla until smooth. Pour the mixture over the strawberries or raspberries.
Set the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is just set in the center. Let cool before serving.
Adapted from “The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook” by Diane St. Clair
More Recipes From “The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook” to Try: Peach-Nectarine Buttermilk Ice Cream
Another Recipe Highlighting Goat Butter: Baked Spinach-And-Goat-Cheese Dumplings
Other Recipes Showcasing Kefir: Strawberry Kefir Panna Cotta
And: Angel Biscuits