Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bake extravaganza


What would I do without these recipes?

One way to really get to know your kitchen is to have a big bake extravanganza. That was the inadvertent result over the weekend when I had to bake a couple of tarts to bring to a Monday work meeting*. The original plan of making a tart turned into a marathon 10 hour fest, where I spent all of Saturday and Sunday ensconced at home poring over my books, deciding on which recipes to make, nipping out for a quick trip to the shops to get supplies, and knuckling down and getting my hands dirty.

Nutella cupcakes
I hadn't done any baking since Aug last year (at least, I think it's been that long), and I had never tackled tart dough before, so I figured I'd start with something easy on saturday, like nutella cupcakes (I used a Martha Stewart yellow cupcake recipe and simply swirled Nutella in). It was also a good way to test out the newly installed oven. They turned out pretty good, so I was confident enough that I hadn't quite lost my baking mojo to start making tart dough on Sunday .

Sweet tart dough
After spending hours flipping through all my books, I eventually settled on Jamie Oliver's Sweet Tart Dough recipe from his Naked Chef book, as it seemed the easiest, and also I hadn't got any almond powder to make Pierre Herme's recipe. Also, this one looked like a no-brainer as it didn't involve any rolling. I'm really such a lazy cook.

All I can say is, now I know why the books tell you the dough can be made in advance and reused at a later time. Because of the refrigerating and freezing of dough before the tarts could be baked, it wasn't until past dinnertime that I was able to make the filling for the tarts.

Pavlovas with lemon curd
In between the waiting, I got really ambitious and decided to make use of the leftover egg whites from the tart dough and make pavlovas. I consulted Marie Claire's Sweet for a recipe on pavlovas with lemon curd, and almost killed my arms whipping up the meringue. My landlady was really sweet and helped, so we took it in turns to beat the eggs into shape. They turned out pretty well, with delicate crisp shells and soft marshmallowy interiors. Can't quite say the same for the lemon curd though.

Either I didn't follow the recipe quite so well, or the recipe itself isn't too great, because I came up with some eggy tasting, lumpy looking curd, which I felt was rather yukky unless eaten directly with the pavlovas. Luckily we had some ripe kiwis in the fridge, so I sliced them up and let the tart sweetness hide some of the egginess.

Nutella tart
I was rather seriously stressing past dinnertime, because it dawned on me that unlike previous baking ventures where I could taste-test my creations before unleashing them on the public, I couldn't taste-test my tarts OR fillings. Furthermore, this was to be presented to a work meeting. Argh! What was I thinking?!

To make matters worse, I accidentally overnuked the butter for the nutella filling and it turned out too oily to swirl in nicely with the melted chocolate. It was getting rather too late to just throw it all away and start a new batch, so I cheated and sort of drained out the butter, spread it over the tart and hoped for the best.

The next day
I had baked another tart shell as a reserve, and being the stress bunny I was, brought the baked Nutella tart and the empty tart shell to work. Once at work, I filled the empty shell with strawberries, blueberries, clotted cream, and sprinkled some sugar over it.

Thankfully, the Nutella tart turned out fine. Jamie Oliver's tart dough really works a treat, and tasted just nice: buttery, slightly sweet with a crumbly texture. The chocolate & Nutella filling, while looking rather unappetising, was actually quite good. I never managed to get a bite of my fruit tart, as all my greedy colleagues polished it off by lunchtime, but I guess 2 empty pans are the best compliment one can get.

So there you go, 4 desserts in one weekend: nutella cupcakes, pavlovas with lemon curd and kiwi, nutella tart and strawberry tart.

* Every month, it's a bit of a tradtion for someone from the team to bring in a homemade pie during our regular Monday morning meetings. I was volunteered for this month's pie session.

2 comments:

hellomylene said...

eh! no piccies of your masterpiece(s)!

JellyGirl said...

No camera lah!