Easy Individual Berry Tarts and Blackberry Lavender Cornmeal Cake

Fresh fruit is so fickle. Berries perish quickly, while you could wait what seems like an eternity for a peach to ripen. At any given point you might have fruit on the verge of becoming overripe while at the same time be unable to cook with the fruit you intended to use because it isn’t ripe enough. These Easy Individual Berry Tarts are the answer to that dilemma. They let you make the most of those peak of perfection peaches and also make use of all the berries that are a little past their prime.

Easy, unfussy, and super simple, they are flaky, jammy and delicious. They only require a few ingredients and are very easy to pull off. Any fruit is game, even hardier winter fruit like apples or pears (just slice these as thin as possible), so this recipe will take you well into autumn and beyond. Strawberry or apricot jam will work well for this recipe, but you can also use any kind of store-bought or homemade jam that you have on hand. 

I left the ones I made unadorned for the photo so that you could use your imagination. If you are serving these for dessert, a wisp of powdered sugar, a scoop of ice cream, or a pillowy dollop of whipped cream might be in order. But if you want to try them for breakfast, which is what I did, a bit of confectioners’ drizzle might be more appropriate.

Until the weather cools, you can try this Blackberry Lavender Cornmeal Cake that bakes in your slow cooker. To make this gluten-free, I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour, and used cornmeal that was gluten-free, as well. I wanted to make this dairy-free, too, so I used coconut yogurt and substituted a 4-ounce cup of applesauce in place of the milk. It added enough natural sweetness that I only used 1/4 cup of powdered honey, but you could add up to about 1/2 cup of whatever sweetener (honey, maple syrup, sugar) you prefer. 

The cornmeal cake was soft and moist, just lightly sweetened, and perfectly baked. The fresh berries gave it a bold juicy bite, and I can’t stop loving the lavender syrup. I thought the slow cooker did such a great job, I plan to make this cake exactly the same way when I make this again. Which will be soon. 

Easy Individual Berry Tarts

  • 1 17.3 ounce box puff pastry (2 sheets) 
  • 2 6-ounce clamshells fresh berries, or 12 ounces mixed blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries  
  • 2 Tablespoons fruit jam
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg 
  • sea salt 

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a large sheet tray with parchment paper. While oven heats, defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry on its paper liner for about 10 minutes, or until it feels like pliable dough. Slice pastry into quarters then transfer the rectangles to the parchment-lined tray. Score an oval into each quadrant, leaving about a half-inch border, being careful not to cut the pastry all the way through. 

Transfer fresh berries to a medium bowl, slicing strawberries into quarters before adding. Stir in jam, water and lemon juice, stirring gently until combined. Spoon jam mixture evenly onto each pastry rectangle, staying within the scored lines. 

In a small bowl, beat egg with a fork. Use a pastry brush to spread a thin coating of egg on the exposed border of each pastry rectangle. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over each pastry. 

Transfer to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges are golden brown and puffed and berries are soft and bubbling in their juices. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let sit until pastry base firms and fruit solidifies a bit. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, a dusting of powdered sugar, or drizzle with glaze.  

Wrap individual portions with plastic wrap and store in the freezer. To reheat, warm in 200º F oven for 15 minutes. 

Confectioners’ Drizzle:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

While pastries cool, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle over cooled pastries. 

-Ali Francis, bonappetit.com

Blackberry Lavender Cornmeal Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 6-ounce containers fresh blackberries
  • 3/4 Tablespoon culinary lavender

Line a slow cooker (6-quart size or large) with foil: spray foil generously with cooking spray. (Make sure foil is large enough to reach part way up sides of slow cooker to help pull out the cornbread once it’s cooked.) 

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Combine milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, eggs and 1 cup of sugar in a separate bowl and whisk together. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. 

Pour batter into prepared slow cooker spreading carefully to edges; scatter 1 cup of blackberries over batter. Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours. 

While cake cooks, make blackberry lavender syrup. Mash about 1/2 cup blackberries in a small bowl, then add remaining whole blackberries and set aside. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons water and lavender in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 1 minute, then stir to dissolve sugar. Microwave again for 45 seconds; stir again. Microwave another 45 seconds, then stir and set aside. 

When cake has finished baking, remove lid, drape a clean kitchen towel over the top of the slow cooker, then place lid back on top of the towel. Let sit at least 30 minutes. 

When ready to serve, grasp edges of foil and lift cornbread out of slow cooker. Place on a flat surface then use a wood skewer or a fork to poke holes in the cake. Set a fine mesh strainer over bowl with blackberries then pour lavender syrup through strainer. Stir syrup into blackberries, then spoon over cake, or cut cake into serving portions and spoon over each individually. 

Store airtight at room temperature for up to three days, or refrigerate for up to one week.


Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Follow directions above, then pour batter into prepared pan; top with 1 cup of blackberries. Bake 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake stand 10 minutes, then poke holes in cake; spoon blackberry syrup over all. 

-adapted from recipe by Kardea Brown

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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