bakin’ it: fruit tarts

baking success on saturday! the williamsburg greenmarket had amazing cherries, piles of rhubarb, and lots of beautiful jewel-like red currants. i stocked up, got a few extra fruits from the market, and went home to get started on my project: fruit tarts.

fruit tarts are a lovely yet mildly labor-intensive activity. you’ve got three components to prepare: pastry cream, dough (i made pâte sucreé), and fruit to wash, de-stem, pit, and slice. but none of this really requires a technique that’s difficult to master, so it’s nice to put on some music, make a capuccino, and get started by washing that fruit. (the slicing & de-stemming part gets saved till the end.) the pâte sucreé mixes up easily in the kitchen aid and then hangs out in the fridge for a few minutes, before getting rolled out, draped into a variety of mini tart pans, and baked. the pastry cream comes together easily and quickly too – the only slightly tedious part is to push it through a sieve, but i don’t recommend skipping this step. once the tart shells and pastry cream have cooled down, the assembly can begin…

this is the part that lets you fancy yourself an artiste… and tests your skills in geometry and structural stability. in the end it doesn’t matter; even if your arrangement of fruit is hideous, the tart will still taste like heaven. but i like this part… arranging the fruit in spirals, pyramids, and fans is very satisfying to me.

i made a double batch of pâte sucreé using the joy of baking recipe here

the pastry cream recipe is from smitten kitchen’s recipe for strawberry tart. (double batch.)

for the fruit, obviously whatever you like and can get your hands on is a good choice. some of the tarts ended up with a strawberry-rhubarb filling (which somehow i didn’t take a snap of. hmmm.) for the filling, i pretended like i was making this pie, but just threw all the ingredients into a glass baking dish covered with foil and into the oven it went for close to one hour.

i don’t think it’s worth the space to re-type these recipes here. if you’re keen to make fruit tarts, the links above will take you there. they really are a great use for all this fabulous summer fruit.


(photos by laurakinsey)

friday favorites…

happy friday, everyone.

don’t ask how, but i managed to come down with a major sinus infection during the heatwave we’ve been having here on the east coast. i’m hoping to shake it by tomorrow so i can practice some baking. turning on the oven might sound like a dumb idea, but there are so many fruits and berries available right now… it just seems like the perfect time to experiment.

if the weekend lasted more than two days, i’d love to do each and every one of these things:

the cheese market and dairy fair at the new amsterdam market tops my to-do list on sunday!

visit monet’s garden exhibit at the new york botanical center

check out williamsburg’s farmers market

a class in making and decorating model boats? sounds interesting…

take a tour of castle williams on governors island

visit the cloud city exhibit by tomás saraceno at the met

(image credits herehere, and here) 

bakin’ it

earlier this month, i took a baking class. i’m very comfortable cooking almost anything, and i have no trepidation or fears about making cookies and cake from scratch. but anything involving a crust is another story, save for graham cracker crust. i can make graham cracker crust. a three year old can make graham cracker crust.

actually, let me include anything that uses yeast in that category of “things i’m afraid of”. or at least in the category of “things i’m not confident doing”. that means any kind of bread, dough, or crust – brioche, pizzas, pie. but i love brioche, pizzas, and pie.

The Institute of Culinary Education, on West 23rd Street, offers a fabulous pastry program. i know it’s fabulous because i went to the information session and learned all about it, including the fact that the program costs over 30 grand to complete. not really so bad if you’re in your early twenties, haven’t already been to college (twice) and want to truly be a pastry chef. i’m not any of these things. i just want to learn how to make brioche, pizzas, and pies. i want a… comfort level with this stuff.

okay. they have recreational classes. phew. i took the pastry intensive course – it lasted a week, and it was glorious. every day from about 9-3 we baked: pâte sucrée, pâte brisée, pâte à choux… we made pies, tarts, galettes, puff pastry from scratch(!) a fruit strip, paris brest, baklava, éclair, profiterole, strudel, and some wonderful things involving almond paste. we also made all of the accompanying sauces: chocolate sauce, pastry crème, crème mousseline, hot fudge, orange blossom glaze…..

some interesting tidbits i learned: the Paris Brest is a dessert invented to commermorate a bicycle race between the french cities of Paris and Brest. and an old hungarian wives tale: a woman is a suitable bride when you can read through her strudel dough. yikes! (it gets stretched very thin).

so. am super pleased and can’t wait to make some killer galettes and the like this summer. next up is the intensive bread course. please stand by…

(photos taken quickly during class using instagram, by laurakinsey)

make it: the sweet & spicy cookie

i’m having a thing for cookies lately. these were in november’s issue of food & wine magazine and i have been waiting for a reason to make them. generally, i’m not in love with chocolatey sweets, (much prefer fruity options – like pie!) but these cookies call for a little cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. i can get behind that. salty chocolate and i are friends.

on monday i stopped waiting for a reason and just made them. they’re easy. the recipe is from the marvelous Dorie Greenspan. check it out here, and here on the CookieBar website.

(photos by laurakinsey)