April 30, 2010

Tart...not Tart

I decided to try Dorie Greenspan’s Traditional Fruit Tart for April’s baking adventure. I’ve wanted to make a fruit tart similar to this for some time, so this month’s recipe was the perfect opportunity. I had a busy work week, so I made the tart over two days and that was the perfect solution. I thought I followed the recipe pretty closely, but inexperience resulted in a tart that was delicious but a custard that was not firm enough. My custard was runny. I should have let it thicken. I suspect that I either didn’t cook it over a high enough heat or I should have cooked it for a longer time. I’ll watch out for this when I make this again! The crust was similar to a pate sucre – which is a nice match for the tart. I'll experiment with the recipe for the crust next time I try this.

This is a great recipe for the busy person. I found it very manageable to make the crust and the custard one day and assemble the tart the following day. Hence - perfect for entertaining! I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to make the tart look “pretty”. I would like to work on this some more, but berries in of themselves are beautiful – so no need to stress there. It’ll look great. So I will try this again, at my next dinner party? And by the way, the family enjoyed it. They were delighted with the look of the tart...it impressed the Philistines at my house. The only negative comment was, “The tart isn’t very tart…”

April 13, 2010

Traditional French Clafoutis

Decided to post my original inspiration for the Clafoutis. I pulled it from a French cookbook I bought while living over there, but was a little concerned about my translation skills as they apply to technical baking terms. I think I got it figured out though, and thought I would share in case anyone else wants to try something a little more interesting.

Clafoutis with pears, raspberries, and almonds
from Saveurs Minute Desserts

6-3/4 oz of dry white wine
2-3 lengths of zest from a lemon
The juice of one lemon
2 T. honey
4 cloves
4 large ripe pears, pealed, cut in quarters and seeded
7 T of softened butter
6T of powdered sugar
Grated zest from ½ an orange
3 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup almonds chopped into a fine powder
2 T vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a bowl, mix the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and cloves. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes and slowly reduce the liquid. Add the pears, cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the pears and transfer to a plate to cool. Filter the zest and cloves from the liquid and set aside.
3. Whip the butter, powdered sugar, and orange zest together with a mixer or by hand. When it starts to mousse, slowly add the eggs, almonds, and vanilla. Keep whipping until everything is well mixed.
4. Lay the pears in a ceramic tart pan 9.8 inches in diameter. Add half the raspberries to the eggs and pour into the pan. Spread evenly with a spoon. Bake in the oven 25-30 min.
5. Take the reserved liquid and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 min, reduce to 3 T. Sprinkle on top of the clafoutis then increase the oven temperature to 450˚F and bake 5 more minutes. Let cool, add the remaining raspberries on top and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.

April 12, 2010

April Desserts

I'm going to pass on both of this month's recipes until later in the summer when berries are in season.

Last summer I made a raspberry tart with some gorgeous beries we picked at my husband's father's house.

I also made an amazing clafoutis with tart cherries; if you come across some I can not reccomend the substitution highly enough. Wonderful!

April 1, 2010

April Recipes: Classic French Desserts

Rebecca chose this month's recipes, A Traditional Tart, and Strawberry Clafoutis. These recipes sound great - you can make either one or both if you can't choose. Looking forward to seeing how they turn out! Don't forget to post preferably by April 30th!

The traditional fruit tart:

From Baking From my Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan

For the Tart Dough:


1 ½ c. all purpose flour

½ c. confectioners' sugar

¼ tsp. salt

9 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

2 c. whole milk

6 large egg yolks

½ c. sugar

⅓ c. cornstarch

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

3 ½ Tb unsalted butter, but into pieces and at room temp.

2 Pints Fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or an assortment of each)

To make the Tart Dough:

Put all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the pieces of unsalted butter over the top of the dry ingredients, and pulse until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like coarse meal. Break up the yolk a bit before you add it to the food processor, and then add it and process in long pulses until the dough comes together, you will hear the noise of the motor change.

Buttter a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You want to keep it crumbly here, it doesn't have to be perfect. Freeze crust for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and fit it (buttered side down) over the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, bake the crust for 25 minutes, then remove the foil. Continue baking until the crust turns golden brown (don't let it burn!) about 8 – 11 more minutes.

Let cool. You can do this and store it up to 5 days before you need to serve it.

To make the Pastry Cream:

Boil the milk and the vanilla (if using beans, scrape the seeds into the milk and include the pods) in a small saucepan. As this is heating, in a medium saucepan whisk the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch, until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about ¾ cup of the hot milk in order to warm the yolks. Continue whisking as you slowly add the rest of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly, bringing it to a boil. Keep mixture at a boil, continuing to whisk, for about 1–2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter until they are fully incorporated. The pastry cream will be smooth and silky, not clumpy. Scrape cream into a bowl and let it cool off. You can place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the cream so you don't get a skin. Refrigerate until it is cold and ready to use. You can keep it for up to 3 days.


When you are ready to serve your tart, pour the cooled pastry cream (give it a pass or two with a whisk to incorporate it again) into the tart shell. Add fruits of your choice over the top. If you want a glaze, use about ⅓ cup of jelly of your choice and one teaspoon of water, boil it, let it cool, and using a pastry brush "paint" your fruit.


Strawberry Clafoutis

posted on the NPR Kitchen Window

Serves 6.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter

1 1/2 pint (3 cups or 20 ounces) fresh strawberries

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole blanched almonds

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

A pinch of salt

3 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon light rum (optional)

Confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8-inch-square glass or ceramic baking dish (or 6 1-cup ramekins for a more elegant presentation) with one tablespoon of the butter. Melt the remaining butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat (or in a small bowl set in the microwave for a few seconds) and set aside.

Rinse the strawberries under cool water -- do not soak or they will loose some of their flavor. Drain in a colander for a few minutes, and gently pat dry with a clean dishtowel.

In a food processor or blender, mix together the flour and almonds until finely ground. Add the sugar, cornstarch and salt, and mix again. Crack in the eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Pour in the melted butter, milk and rum if using, and mix again until well blended. The mixture will be thin, like crepe batter.

Hull the strawberries, cut in halves or quarters depending on their size, and arrange in a single layer in the prepared dish or ramekins. Drizzle the batter over the strawberries, and put the dish in the oven to bake for 40 minutes (30 minutes if you use ramekins), until puffy and set. Transfer dish to a rack, and let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, and serve directly from the baking dish or ramekins. Clafoutis is traditionally served on its own, but if you like you can add a few fresh strawberries on the side, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a little whipped cream.