Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blueberry Tart with Lemon Curd - Final Installment

Here it is, in all its glory! I'm hoping someone will offer to take it off my hands before I devour the entire thing.

The final step was making the blueberry topping. It's a rather simple process:

1) Assemble the ingredients: 1/3 c of water, 2-1/2 c blueberries (washed and drained), 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.

For the amount of glaze, I think I could easily have used 3 or even 3-1/2 cups of blueberries.

2) Combine sugar and cornstarch; add liquids. Bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly; boil for 30 seconds. Take off heat; dump in blueberries and toss to coat. (I used a gently swirling motion.)

3) Arrange gently on lemon curd tart. 2-1/2 cups of berries were enough to cover the tart completely, with a little extra.

I dropped this tart off at a friends' but she left me about 1/4...it's gone now! Evidently I need to work on my pastry skills because the crust was tough! Tasty, but tough. If any of you have tips for making pastry dough, please leave me a comment; I'd love to hear from you!

The taste of the blueberries together with the lemon curd was heavenly though!

Blueberry Tart with Lemon Curd - The Best Part

Which is, naturally, the lemon curd. I snapped a few pictures to illustrate the process, so here they are:
1) Assemble your ingredients. You need 4 egg yolks, 2 tsp lemon zest, 4 tbsp butter, 3 fl. oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice, and (not pictured) 3/4 c sugar and a pinch of salt.

2) Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. Add all the other ingredients EXCEPT for the lemon zest; mix, and put on the stove on low heat. Stir constantly.

3) Have the lemon zest waiting in a bowl. Have a strainer waiting so that when the mixture has
thickened, you can strain it directly into the bowl.

4) Once the mixture has cooled off a bit (give it a stir every once in a while), pour into pre-baked tart shell and bake at 300 for 7 minutes (it will still be jiggly-wiggly).

5) Here's what mine looks like! Yummo! I could eat lemon curd straight out of the bowl - yes, all of it - so I had better get going on the blueberry topping before it all disappears!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blueberry Tart with Lemon Curd - the Flaky Crust

Whenever I start a project (and there have been many starts), I get the urge to buy. Supplies, books, magazines...whatever might be applicable. Over the last ten years or so, I've begun to realize that buying stuff does not actually get the job done!

So when I decided to start this bloggety-blog, I immediately searched amazon.com and McNally Robinson for pastry and baking cookbooks. The good ones all run at $100+. I'm assuming that's because there's a limited market for these types of books, and because of the high cost of producing high-quality, informative illustrations and photographs.

Lately I've been trying to watch my spending more carefully, so after an hour or two of ogling gorgeous cookbooks, I remembered that I already have a wonderful selection. Some bought new, some bought at the Children's Hospital Used Book Sale, some received as gifts - it's quite the little library. The point being, I have more than enough to keep me occupied for several years at least! So I hauled out my Pie and Pastry Bible and looked up 'Blueberry' in the index. When I saw this recipe, I knew it was The One. Lemon is one of my all-time favourite flavours!

(By the way, don't bother trying to find a tart pan with a removable bottom in or around Winkler. I tried Superstore, Canadian Tire, Walmart, and Co-op...nothing.)

This recipe is actually a combination of 3: the pie crust, the blueberry filling, and the
clincher: lemon curd. Rose Levy Beranbaum describes it like this:

"In addition to being delicious, this tart also provides several textural contrasts: a flaky, crunchy crust; creamy lemon filling; and burst-in-the-mouth berry topping. It is also beautiful to behold because though the berries do not cook or begin to break down, they turn dark blue from contact with the hot glaze."

How could I resist?

First, Basic Flaky Pie Crust

My attempts at pie crust generally come out looking ok but tough and chewy. Which is not flaky. So this time around, I'm going to try to follow the recipe to the letter. I don't have a food processor, so I'm using the 'hand method'. (I've also re-written the recipe so that it's shorter; if you want the real thing, along with variations and tips, get the book!)

1) Divide 8 tbsp butter into a 3 tbsp portion and a 5 tbsp portion. Cut each portion into small cubes. Refrigerate the larger, freeze the smaller.
2) Mix 1-1/3 cups all purpose flour, 1/4
tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp baking powder. Freeze in mixing bowl for 30 minutes. Also chill another bowl.
3) Using a pastry cutter and/or fingers, cut/rub the larger portion of butter into the flour mixture.
4) Spoon the mi
xture, together with the smaller portion of butter, into a large resealable bag. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into flakes. (Is this the equivalent of what I've seen chefs on shows do...with the heel of their hand against the counter top? Is one method preferable to the other?)
5) Transfer mixture to chilled bowl. Sprinkle with 2-1/2 tbsp ice water (can add more later if needed) and 1-1/2 tsp cider vinegar. Toss lightly with a spatula. Return mixture to bag.
6) Kneed mixture inside bag until it holds together.
7) Wrap dough with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
8) To roll out and bake, remove pastry from fridge and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
9) And I quote: "Always work quickly so that the dough doesn't have a chance to soften. Use a firm steady pressure to roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick. As the centre tends to be the thickest part, roll from the centre out." etc.
10) Once in the tart pan, trimmed and ready to go, make sure the oven is preheated to 425. Line the dough with parchment paper. Fill with dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes.
11) Lift out parchment with beans and prick crust all over with fork. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until pale golden brown.

Et voila! I'm not so sure it's supposed to shrink quite so violently, but...Stay tuned for the Lemon Curd and final product!

And this is what I put up with!

A cranky apartment stove. In my 4 apartments, I would rate this stove 2nd worst. It's ancient! And the thermometre is waaaay out:

As you may or may not be able to see, this dial points to approximately 350.

And, as you may or may not be able to see, the thermometre inside the oven shows approximately 400. That's a 50-degree difference! Somewhat significant, I would say.

I hereby appeal to my landlord, to whom I pay ever-increasing amounts of rent, to equip my apartment with a better oven. I'm not picky, but gas would be nice. The sooner the better, because then I won't have to clean it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bread, Bread, Delicious Bread!

If I'm going to bake my way through this tome, I'm going to have to face making starter. That worries me. What if I just make mold instead of yummy, yeasty starter?

So I chose a bread that I knew I could make:
Buttermilk Potato Bread. (Which means I now need to find more recipes that use buttermilk, since you can't buy it in less than 1L quantities.)

To make a long story short, here's the outcome:
Oops! I forgot to glaze it. My taste buds won't care though...BLTs, here I come!