sunny side up pastries; a tuesdays with dorie post

Well, we made it to Virginia.  It was a long drive that took two days and numerous stops.  If anybody asks, traveling with three cats and a dog is not any easier than traveling with kids.  Trust me, I have done both of these things and can honestly say that I really hope to never do that again.

We closed on our house two weeks ago and have moved in.  Now the only thing to do is finish unpacking and I am actively looking for ways to get out of that task.  Making a batch of tiny little pastries was just the diversion I was looking for!

If you recall, I am part of a group of people baking their way through the wonderful book, Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  We have been at it for quite a while now and having missed the last few months, I am happy to be back at it.  For our first recipe in October, we chose the Sunny-side-up Apricot Pastries which first required making a batch of puff pastry or mille feuilles in French and both recipes were contributed to the book by Michel Richard.  To see Julia and Michel make these recipes, watch the video by following this link!

Michel’s recipe for the dough is a little different than most.  He instructs you to make a soft dough in the food processor and then rest it in the fridge before incorporating the butter.

my new house has lots of light but it also has walls the color of butter.  Nice and neutral I suppose but the make taking photos tricky.  The light always seems to be a bit on the yellow side.

 Puff pastry is one of those recipes that seems so intimidating but in truth, it is a simple recipe that just has a few rules that should never be broken.  Follow those rules and you will have a skill envied by those that think it is a difficult item to make.

 Seal the butter into the dough to make sure that it does not ooze out during the rolling process.

Flour is your friend; use lots, it is easier to brush off flour than to scrape the dough off the table.

Bakers trick, mark the dough with your finger tips; one indent per roll/fold.  Michel’s recipe calls for making the folds two at a time.  This means that you roll the dough out, brush off the flour, fold it and repeat the process.  Be sure to rest it in the fridge between steps so that the butter does not get too soft and the gluten can relax.

 Four down, two more to go!
 The view from the kitchen.
 My begonians traveled well and are liking the new window.

 The book calls for poaching apricots and cooking a batch of pastry cream.  Both of those ideas did not appeal to me.  We had some Cortland apples on the counter and I thought apples and frangipane sounded better.

 Although I have no idea which boxes contain what, I do know where all of my cutters are.  Priorities people, priorities!

 My half sized pastries with a tiny scoop of frangipane and a few slices of apples.
 Learning to shoot in this house is going to take some time.  The light is lovely but those walls…

 Just out of the oven.  The frangipane spread more than pastry cream would have but I like the flavor combination.

 We have a skylight and it lets in so much light.  Now I just need to learn to work with light from overhead!

 So far, I am liking my new place.  The neighbors I have met are all very friendly.  The only one with a problem is The Captain.  Remember him?  Our outdoor cat?  Well, he is now an indoor cat and let’s just say we are both adjusting to (his)life indoors…

Be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see how the other bakers did with this recipe.

a taste of fall: pear frangipane tart, pie #41 of 52

while i am sad to see summer come to a close, i am looking forward to the arrival of fall produce.  as much as i love visiting the farmers market in summer, i find the trips downtown in the fall almost magical.  the sight of so many apples and hard squashes…the thoughts of applesauce and butters and pies…mmmmmm, that’s all i can say about it.  while it is still very warm, with many days still 80+, it is no longer too hot to make baking impossible.  the arrival of pears from colder climates made a pear tart irresistible.
not all pears make nice tarts.  the best ones are those with a slightly soft texture that hold their shape when baked.  for this reason, i generally use d’anjou pears that are a tad under ripe.  for this tart, i had to choose between bartlett and bosc-neither being a favorite of mine.  i went with firm, under ripe bartletts so that they would not turn to mush when i poached them.  poaching is important for this type of tart-it prevents discoloration and ensures that the pears are soft when the tart filling is completely baked.  it also prevents the pears from releasing excessive amounts of juices onto the top of the filling and that enables the filling to bake properly.  the poaching liquid includes wine and the beauty of this tart is that you could use any type of wine and alter the taste of the pears to your liking.  i used marsala because that is what was convenient but you could easily use chardonnay, sauternes, port, champagne or any other white  wine.  however, there is no reason that you couldn’t use a mild, fruity red and give the pears a pink tint. 
freshly poached and ready to be sliced. after removing the pears, place the pot of liquid back on the stove over low heat.  the poaching liquid is reduced down to 1 cup and used as a syrup to drizzle over the slices as you serve them.

the tart shell must be prebaked first.  then, mix up the frangipane filling, spread it into the tart shell and layer the sliced pears around the top in a spiral.

once the tart has been baked and allowed to cool completely, remove it from the pan and cut it into wedges.  drizzle it with the syrup and you have an elegant fall dessert.

pear frangipane tart
serves 8-10
tart dough
half batch of tart dough from pie #39, second piece can be frozen for future use.  place the dough into a greased tart pan with a removable bottom.  with your fingers, carefully distribute the dough around the bottom and sides by pressing it and pushing it into place so that it is an even thickness throughout (no rolling pin required!!!).   place the shell on a sturdy baking pan.  line the shell with a coffee filter or parchment paper, fill with weights and prebake it at 325 degrees until the dough no longer looks shiny and appears opaque when you lift up the paper/weights, about 25-30 minutes.
poached pears
3-4 pears, peeled, halved with cores removed
3 cups water
1 cup wine
1/2 vanilla bean
1 star anise pod
3 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, squeezed-juice and fruit both added to the mix
1/2 cup sugar
combine the ingredients in a large pot.  over medium low heat, simmer the pears until they are soft but not yet mushy, about 20 minutes.  remove the pears to a dish to cool.  remove all of the aromatic ingredients from the liquid and return the pot to the stove over medium low heat.  allow the syrup to reduce and concentrate to just 1 cup.  chill the syrup
frangipane filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces almond paste
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
in a mixing bowl, cream the butter, almond paste and the sugar until light and fluffy.  add the egg and mix to incorporate.  sift the flour into the batter and mix just to incorporate.  
assembling and baking the tart
remove the weights from the tart shell and spread the frangipane filling evenly in the shell.  cut the pears into 1/4″ thick slices and using the photo above for reference, carefully arrange them in a spiral around the top of the filling.  bake in an oven preheated to 350 until the filling sets, approximately 50-55 minutes.  brush a small amount of the syrup over the tart while it is still hot to give it a shine and allow it to cool completely before removing it from the pan.  cut into wedges and serve it with a drizzle of the syrup.  if you would like to really indulge yourself and those you are serving this too,  serve it with some vanilla or buttermilk ice cream.
as always, bake one and send me a photo, i promise to post it here.