Wow…it takes a move to make me realize just how much kitchen crap I have. Seriously, boxes and boxes of stuff I never touch. I have an 11-inch square pan that I used once eight years ago! I have five flats of unopened Ball jars (was I thinking I’d be the next Smucker’s or something??). A lot of it went into storage when we moved to Sydney four years ago, and it didn’t come out when we moved back. Until now. My latest project is sorting though it…what to keep handy, what to put in the basement and what to say goodbye to. Housing Works has already gotten three boxes full!
One thing I’ll never give up is my six-inch springform, which I found just in time to make a half-size of the Fold-Over Pear Torte that Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen chose for TWD this week. This was the first recipe in a long time where I didn’t know what the heck I was making! I couldn’t really tell by reading the recipe how it would turn out, and there isn’t a picture in the book for a visual clue.
After muddling through and crossing my fingers, here it is in a nutshell: fresh pear chunks, nuts and dried fruit are suspended in a rummy custard-like batter, and the whole thing is encased in flaky pie dough. It’s assembled in a springform for high sides to hold all that fruit and custard. It may look like a deep dish pizza, but it tastes like pure autumn. A delicious surprise out of the oven!
So, our move is done, and we are now residents of Fort Greene, Brooklyn! Thanks for all the good wishes in your comments last time. Apart from a couple chunks taken out of a hall wall by a dresser, all went surprisingly well. We have moved five times in four years, so I’m pretty good at packing up by now, but I’m looking forward to not doing it again for at least another ten years! Now to finish tackling the home improvements…
These Tartes Fines were the last TWD project to come out of my old apartment oven. I had some puff pastry in the freezer already, so they were fast and so simple to crank out, which I really appreciated last week. (Thanks, Leslie!) If you have made other puff and apple desserts, then you will know what a great combo these two things are. Really browned and crisped puff is the way to go. If you have either a little apple butter or almond frangipane hiding in the fridge, then a schmear underneath the apples is a nice extra touch.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve suddenly become a very busy girl, with reasons that have nothing to do with working (heck–I am not even working right now…still on a self-proclaimed “summer break”) or blogging. I’m learning a lot of weird stuff that, up until now, I had no reason to know or care about. I think you’d find it a little boring if I went into details about it now, as it’s all more of an idea than a reality at this point, but I’ll fill you in soon.
No matter what’s going on, I’m never to busy to bake, and even if Rachel of sweet tarte hadn’t decided on Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart, I was still planning on making it this month. I think the peaches here have been great this year, and I’ve picked up a tree’s worth of them at the market. This tart combines those peaches (which I didn’t even bother to peel) with custard and almond streusel and puts them all inside a delicious, cookie-like sweet tart (hey– is that why Rachel picked this?) shell. Yeah, I liked this one a lot, even if it didn’t photograph too well.
A Tarte Norie is pure and simple, and all about the chocolate, so break out the good stuff! I had a déjà vu moment while making this, and then I realized that it’s the very same thing as the Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart we made awhile back, minus the caramel and nuts. Dark ganache inside a crisp, sweet pastry shell…I was perfectly happy to experience that again!
I know I’ve told you before that I’ve been turning my nose up at raw bananas since I was a kid. But I try to keep an open mind, and I want to bake along with everyone, so I always give banana recipes a go anyway. Well, guess what. I think I’m starting to accept them…maybe even like them a little. I didn’t at all poo-poo Spike’s choice of Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie for TWD this week. In fact, I enjoyed it! What’s happening to me?? :)
An ice cream pie is what it sounds like– a crust (cookie-coconut in this case) topped with ice cream. I made mine in a springform rather than a pie plate, but that’s a nitpicky detail. Dorie uses chocolate ice cream as the base in her recipe…I assembled this pie at the same time I made that burnt sugar ice cream, so I used it instead. I didn’t want to miss out entirely on the chocolate, though, and made a cocoa fudge sauce to go on top.
Raw bananas make three different appearances here. There’s a layer of them between the crust and the ice cream, there’s a rum-banana smoosh stirred into the ice cream, and there are a few decorative slices for the top. Further proof that I am beginning to appreciate bananas: I thought the burnt sugar ice cream with rum and bananas stirred in was just killer!
My “extended spring break” from work is absolutely lovely, but, to tell the truth, my life is losing a bit of structure. All those things that I had planned to do (spring clean the apartment, organize my digital photos into folders that make some sense, finally get a recipe archive on this blog…just to name a few) are just not getting done. I’ll tell you what is getting done, though…catching up on the DVR list (is anyone else addicted to Sarah’s House??), walking around Tribeca (with a stop for something caffeinated at either Kaffe 1668 or RBC Coffee) and taking afternoon catnaps (yes, even after the coffee). Well, I am enjoying it, because I know it won’t last forever, and I do thank the weekly TWD deadline for keeping my baking in check.
What’s up this week? Cristine of Cooking with Cristine chose a Quick Classic Berry (or Fruit) Tart. This is certainly a classic…I think it was the first tart we learned how to put together in cooking school. I’ve made a couple of these custard-type tarts at home in the recent past. The combination of the crisp cookie-ish crust and the cool pastry cream is killer. Really, I hardly need anything more than that, but a little fruit makes it even better. I fiddled with the traditional glazed berry topping a little bit (since berries are still a tad expensive here) and topped it with some vanilla-caramel roasted pineapple. I am going to tell you how I made this pineapple stuff, because it is easy, it is fab and it could dress up a zillion different things…maybe after my afternoon nap!
For the last five weeks, I’ve had a smile on my face that I haven’t been able to scrub off. You see, I gave notice at work…five weeks’ notice. It’s been a long time coming, but my last day is…tomorrow! I really have only good things to say about my experience at the bakery, but after a year and a half of making cupcakes and brownies, I think it’s time to move on. After a little break, of course. I’m excited to go out West to visit my parents…I haven’t seen them since before I started. I’m excited to have weekend breakfast with my husband…we work opposite schedules, with never a day together. But first things first….I’m excited to nibble on the Soft Chocolate and Raspberry Tarts that Rachelle of Mommy? I’m Hungry! chose for TWD.
Here, I made individual tartlettes…only because I am in love with my little ring molds. The shells are pretty shallow, so I left the berries out of the filling (I didn’t want them poking through the top) and just used them as garnish, along with a little mascarpone. The filling, not quite a straight-up ganache, yet not quite a custard, is baked. It makes a really delicious basic chocolate tart– one that I’m certain could easily be paired with a lot more than just raspberries. Just an FYI: my little guys, sans berries, took under fifteen minutes to bake.
Beryl the Cinemon Girl picked something right up my alley for TWD this week– Dorie’s Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart! Oh yeah…I’ve been waiting for this one for awhile. Not only do I like rummy, coconutty desserts a lot, but these custard tarts gave me the chance to do two of my favorite things in the kitchen: make pastry cream and form tart shells!
This sablée-style sweet tart dough is super easy to work with (I did individual servings here), and it’s crisp sweetness is an important part of the dessert. I don’t normally have sweetened coconut in the cupboard, so I stirred toasted desiccated coconut into the pastry cream filling instead. It became pretty stiff in the fridge, but I just folded in a little of the whipped cream topping, and it loosened right up.
Happy anniversary! You may be wondering, “What anniversary?” Why, it’s TWD‘s second anniversary! The group’s throwing a big celebration…you’ll see that some of us are bringing cake and others, like me, are bringing Tarte Tatin. (I’ll have to get to that cake soon myself…sounds like good stuff!)
Tarte Tatin is a dessert that’s very familiar to me. If my mum says she’s making an apple pie, she’s not talking about the traditional American kind…she’s talking about a tarte Tatin. In fact, when my brother was staying with us in Sydney, I made a double-crusted apple pie, and he griped that it wasn’t like our mum’s! But, hey– big chunks of apple that have been cooked down in buttery caramel– who can blame him?? You can use a regular pie crust as your base (or top) if you want, but I just love caramel-soaked puff pastry.
There are a couple of things about tatins that can make people a little nervous. First, you have to let the caramel and apples go for awhile…don’t be afraid to let the caramel turn a pretty deep amber. And pack those apples in, because they shrink while they cook. Flipping the Tatin out of the pan might sound a little scary (you, know it bakes upside-down, right?), but if you wear good oven mitts and flip with confidence, all should fall into place.
Whew, two years and over one hundred recipes from Baking: From My Home to Yours…just thinking about that makes me want slip into something elastic-waisted! But seriously, big hugs and lots of thanks go to both Laurie and Dorie. I’m so looking forward to the next year of baking!!
Pecan pie is certainly one of my favorites, so I thought I’d give Dorie’s version a go for Christmas dinner. Dorie’s Favorite Pecan Pie has a couple of unusual twists– chocolate, cinnamon and espresso powder. (My one twist was to use golden syrup in place of the corn syrup.) This was a big hit, especially with a little bit (or a lot, as the case may be) of whipped cream. Not too sweet, and not too gloppy either, if you know what I mean. Next time I think I’ll experiment with leaving out the chocolate, keeping the cinnamon and espresso, and see what I think about that.
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Someone’s in the Kitchen with Brina, as it was Beth’s choice for TWD this week. Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!