First stop on my gastronomical tour of the world is France. I’ve only been once to Paris 4 years ago rather spontaneously and I loved it. Plenty of croque monsieurs and orangina to be consumed and of course beautiful sights to be seen.
I decided to embark in an all day baking frenzy on Sunday. Beginning with my first experimental venture into pastry making stumbled slightly after my trip to the supermarket, sans ingredients list, meant that I had to make a second trip to purchase cream and lemons, those two vital ingredients to Tarte au Citron.
I love Tarte au Citron, but even when I was in Paris I didn’t actually get to sample it. I vividly remember an amazing tarte au pomme however. I mainly eat this desert whenever I go to Thorntons Cafe. I could eat it everyday, which is good because I will be eating this for this entire week.
After one false start, all systems were go. I threw caution to the wind mixing up the pastry ingredients. Now from watching the Great British Bake Off (from hereonafter I will soley refer to as GBBO as I will refer to it excessively throughout), I know that pastry can be frozen to make it more pliable, so into the freezer the sticky mess went. I also picked up how to roll the pastry between cling film to stop it sticking to everything. Which was a life saver or in this case, a tarte saver.
I had to buy a special tin to make the tarte in and so my other cooking equipment is somewhat rudimentary to say the least. I am using a childs size silicon rolling pin which doesnt make for even rolling of pastry, with it being more suited to childrens play dough, nevertheless I pressed on.
With a few mumbled shouts of, ‘I hate pastry!!’ and ‘this is so difficult!!’, eminiating from the kitchen and one or two failed attempts to get the semi flattened dough into the tin; after dropping said tin onto the floor and having to wash it again. I managed to successfully wrestle the dough into the tin and press it into shape. If only I had remembered GBBO tip of using a wedge of pastry to press the stuff into the tin! That would have been good, but c’est la vie.
Again, making do with the cheaper version, I poured a whole packet of kidney beans into my tin and blind baked the tarte. Perhaps I added a smidge too many beans as the bottom was still raw after it’s allotted time. A little thinking on my feet and a bit more baking and it was good to go. A skewer came in handy to lance the pastry that had grown a bit too much in the oven and it was time for the filling.
I love my electric whisk. It made whisking all the eggs, cream, sugar and lemon so easy and salvaged the mess I made of it. Note to self. I must read recipes properly!! This is not an unusual error on my part. I generally get creative with recipes and guess measurements and substitute ingredients for what ever is in the cupboard… BUT this time I totally misread the method, throwing everything in together only to be soaked in cream and eggs when I switched on the mixer. That will teach me for using my smart phone to bake from. Too much touch screen and unlocking of phones makes for a sloppy chef. Apparently it’s advisable to whisk the eggs first. To fix this cream-up-walls and all over me issue, I wrapped a towel round the bowl to capture all the escaping cream and protect the walls. Whisking it all up until it looked a bit frothy. (That’s the technical term for this, right?)
It seemed to work! I christened my new cooling rack, bought special for the occasion (no more using the microwave stand for me!). After a bit of time in the fridge and a light dusting of icing sugar it was ready to eat. It did not disappoint!
Sharp and smooth, with perfectly cooked pastry! Not soggy, nor dry and overcooked. Somehow I got it right!?! And I would know, having watched all those judges on GBBO! On a side note I have also tweeted #Hollywoodbaker GBBO judge my Tarte au Citron pictures to enter the twitter technical bake challenge… let’s see what he thinks!
I declare this pastry technical challenge complete (and suprisingly a success!)
So that was France, where to next???