pastry


A few months ago I bought a bag of pears for easy snacking. Most of the time I much prefer eating fruit raw rather than cooking it, unless it’s jam of course. But although these pears were on the smaller side, they were a little too tart and hard to eat on their own. Prior to this I’d never eaten nor baked a tarte tatin and thought these pears were a good candidate. Let me just say it quickly became my favorite dessert! The was quick and simple: cook some butter and sugar together, add sliced pears, top off with a crust, and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes or so. The pears softened and sweetened up nicely as it baked in a buttery, caramel sauce and the edges of the crust became slightly chewy yet also slightly crispy. I ended up eating almost the whole thing myself. This definitely tasted best right out of the oven. I even made it for Christmas dinner, prepping everything before hand and popping it into the oven as we cleaned up the dining table.


Pear Tarte Tatin
1 flaky pastry crust (see below)
1/2 c sugar
3 T butter
3-4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss sliced pears with lemon juice and set aside. Roll out pastry crust and cut into 9″ circle about 1/4″ thick.

In an 8″ cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and stir until golden and caramelized, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain and discard any excess liquid from pears and arrange inside skillet in a circle (I used tongs for this). Carefully lift pastry crust and drape over pears, tucking edges in. Cut a few steam holes in crust, then bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen up. Place plate over skillet and quickly but carefully flip over. Serve with tea and/or ice cream!

Crust:
These are really quick directions for a crust so feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe or even store bought puff pastry if you like.
1 c AP flour
1 t salt
6 T butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Combine ingredients in a medium sized bowl and rub butter into the flour using your fingertips, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 T cold water (and up to 3 T) and gently knead until dough starts to form. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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NEET

Matchbox Kitchen is in the June 2011 issue of N.E.E.T magazine (page 190-191)! We came up with a simple raspberry tart recipe that’s perfect for summer picnics.  I do have a few notes to share on it though, because although it might come off a little easy/boring, I am totally in love with it!

Crust
The first thing about this tart is the crust. I think it just might be my favorite tart crust I’ve ever had. Instead of the usual flaky/greasy shell, it is a cornmeal crust that is seriously perfect for outdoor eating.  It is sturdy, clean to eat, and gives the perfect amount of texture.  When you bite into it crumbs don’t get everywhere and breaks off cleanly.  Don’t you hate it when you eat a cookie/hand held dessert and it ends up crumbling everywhere? Not with this crust. It also is sweet but not tooth achingly sweet, and is almost tastes like a sugar cookie. The key to getting using this crust is to roll it out as thin as possible.  And I mean thin.  It’s also very forgiving, meaning when you’re pressing it into your tart pan if it tears you can just press it back together.  Just make sure you roll it out thin! The thicker it is the harder it is to bite through.

Filling
The next part of the tart is mascarpone cheese, which you can buy in a small tub at the grocery store.  Stir it up with a fork to fluff it up a bit and then fill your tart shell. Then top it off with lots and lots of fresh raspberries.

Glaze
The last piece of the dessert is the balsamic honey glaze.  Let me tell you, I thought of so many different sauces and syrups but in the end decided on the simplest of them all.  A part of me didn’t want to use balsamic vinegar just because it feels a little overdone, but I couldn’t help it.  Mixed with some honey it is the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the tart.  You really have to try it all together.  The combination of flavors and textures is amazing. I am kind of at a loss for words to describe it, but if you’ve ever seen that moment in Ratatouille when he combines eating a grape with cheese, it’s kinda like that.


Other
Another thing that might confuse you is the serving.  The recipe states that it makes one long 14×4.5″ tart, but the picture shows one little round one.  You can evenly distribute the components and make about six individual 3.5″ tarts, but if you roll the crust out thin enough you’ll have enough dough to fill about 8.

This came out to be a little longer than I expected, but please let me know if you make it! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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I made croissants from scratch! It took about forever but I think well worth it. As they were proofing I got a little worried because the recipe said they would triple in size, but they didn’t. Thankfully I didn’t throw it out at that moment because they came out nice after their time in the oven. They are by no means perfect but am satisfied with my first attempt. I can’t wait to try again!

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This was my first attempt at making puff pastry. I was really intimidated by the thought of laminating dough but it turned out to be way easier than I made up in my head. It’s by no means perfect but I’m satisfied with the results. I used a recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but there were two recipes and I couldn’t figure out which one to go with. I just went with the one with less butter, but I think the other one was more suitable for pastries. Next time, I guess.

The simplest thing to do with my puff pastry was to make mille feuille/napoleons. I filled it with one layer of pastry cream and one layer of whipped cream to lighten it up a little. They were certainly delicious the first time around, but after photographing and taste testing and all that I’m having a hard time just looking at the photos. I’m definitely going to take a break from sweets for a while!

Oh, and just as a side note, I did a google image search for mille feuille/napoleons but didn’t come up very many good ones.  After taking these, now I know why!  It is seriously hard to take a good mille feuille photo.

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Sunny side up apricot pastry from Artisan Bread in Five.  This was my first time making brioche dough as well as custard from scratch.  The apricots are from a can, and you’re supposed to glaze it with a jam but it was fine without it.  The crust on the brioche is from a dusting of sugar before going into the oven.

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