Archive for the ‘Pies & Tarts’ Category

Mad about Apple Pie

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

              Double Crusted Apple Pie

While considering whether to have a Christmas dinner party this year, my sister brought up the possibility of having an apple pie on the menu again this year. While no decision has actually been taken on the dinner yet, I thought it would be good to give the apple pie recipe a trial run. The reason for the trial run: last year’s pie, which had been disasterous on two counts.

The first being the pie crust. I’d gone with a recipe that used shortening. I had great hopes; after all, the recipe promised a very flaky yet tender crust. The crust turned out to be so tender and flaky that it practically disintegrated to mush once it was cut into the pie filling.

The second disappointment was with the apple pie filling. While I had used my usual apple pie filling recipe, the apples were entirely the wrong kind. I had bought the green apples from the wet market, thinking that all green apples were Granny Smiths. Apparently not. The green apples turned out to be the sort with a powdery texture - the entire opposite of the firm and crunchy texture of Granny Smiths, which are essential for apple pie fillings. Needless to say, the filling left a lot to be desired texture-wise.

                  Double Crusted Apple Pie

So for this year’s trial run, I used Sherry Yard’s Master Pie Crust, a recipe that I knew would be easy to work with and still give a perfect pie crust. For the filling, I used a combination of Granny Smiths and Royal Gala apples - this time making extra sure to check the label on each apple. I also covered the pie entirely with pastry instead of making my usual lattice top. I’m happy to report that the pie tasted great and I’m glad to have made it, dinner party or not.

I know I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to this past year, but do stay tuned. I’ve got a Christmas baking schedule planned - the list includes decorated gingerbread cookies, vanilla kipferl and possibly a macaron tower (if I can either buy or make a proper cone, that is)!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Strawberry Tart

I was feeling a little under the weather last week, but with Fathers’ Day coming up that weekend, I knew that I was going to have to put something together. It was certainly a case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh having to be dragged out of bed.

I decided to go with a very simple strawberry tart. The pâte sucrée was already sitting in the freezer and the crème d’amandes filling could be made in a jiffy.

Strawberry Tart

The only seemingly arduous task would be getting equal sized strawberries at the local supermarket since I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get decently red ones. Fortunately, the berries on the supermarket shelves were relatively decent and I ended up having to buy only 2 large boxes.

Dad liked the tarte aux fraises well enough and I’m sure I’ll be making this classic dessert again!

Tarte aux fraises recipe to follow shortly.

Mad about a Orange Hazelnut Praliné Bûche

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

              Orange Hazelnut Praline Bûche

Given that I hadn’t baked in a while, there was no way I was going to let a 3-day weekend go by without firing up my oven. A quick flip through a couple of newly acquired books and I settled on an orange hazelnut praliné bûche.

All right, so it’s not Christmas yet, but one shouldn’t need to wait till Christmas to bake a log cake, no? Especially not when said cake consists of orange compote and hazelnut praline, both made from scratch. I was sold just at the thought of these two components, although I did have some doubts about how the overall taste would be when eaten together in a cake.

Orange Hazelnut Praline Bûche

Orange Compote
The orange compote was made by simmering whole oranges (preferably organic, for obvious reasons) in water for 3 hours, cutting the boiled oranges in small pieces, sauteeing the orange pieces in butter and sugar and then reducing the entire concoction. The resulting compote was further chopped to achieve a chunky and thick jam consistency.

Hazelnut Praliné
The praliné looked simple enough to make: make a sugar syrup, pour toasted hazelnuts into the syrup and stir until hazelnuts are coated with crystallised sugar. Continue to cook hazelnuts and sugar until sugar melts and caramelizes to a dark brown colour. This deceptively simple process took me a good 45 minutes, so imagine my dismay when the caramelized nuts began to turn slightly sticky, courtesy of the lovely humid weather here in Singapore.

Fortunately, most of the praliné was to be ground and used as ingredients for the cake and buttercream. In the end, I was happy with how the bûche turned out (although I could have used a little less buttercream when covering the cake). Who’d have thought that hazelnuts and orange would go so well together?

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Tart with Cocoa Nib Croustillant


Emboldened by my sucess, I went on to try another recipe from the same book - a raspberry chocolate dessert built on a sturdy sable breton base. It was actually the almond croustillant decoration in the recipe that I was more interested in than the tart itself. But since I didn’t have almond nibs on hand, I decided to go with an alternative cocoa nib croustillant recipe I’d found in another book.

The end result was not bad, but again, the humidity wasn’t very suitable for croustillant making; the decorative pieces which had set firm at room temperature quickly softened when taken out of the refrigerator. I might try cutting down on the amount of butter the next time or go with almond nibs instead. My poor Silpat did not take kindly to the copious amount of butter in the crousillant!