Photo by Jun Pang
Alright then – DESSERTS!!
Do I really need to say anymore?
It always makes me laugh; the fascination with sweet stuff. I guess it is because I have absolutely no interest in eating sweets, it simply does not even register with me. For me, the perfect sweet or dessert would be a banana split with vanilla ice cream, caramel banana wrapped in bacon. You read it right, BACON! In my head, for me to eat sugar, it would have to be masked with something totally salty.
Chocolate is another thing I do not understand. To me it is an art. Art in how people temper chocolate and there are some very creative people out there who come up with some pretty incredible things with chocolate, but eating it or in some extreme cases (usually in females!?) an addiction with it; that I cannot make sense with in my head. I am trying, I am trying to eat more sweets but I fear it will be a long process.
I do how ever, feel comfortable making sweets. Don’t really enjoy the sticky fingers and the patience that desserts or pastry chefs must have but I try nevertheless to get through and learn. I find that if I take my time by choice, I get to really enjoy it but if I had to be a pastry chef and produce pastries on a deadline, I think I would shoot myself, simply because I do not have the patience that pastry chefs must have.
Pastries are delicate, so precise in methods, cooking time, temperature and the list goes on and on. Females, I find make good pastry chefs. They are patient and they tend to get the chemistry and thinking behind what happens when preparing pastries. Also, I think it is because they want to be near their weakness, makes it easier to get their fix!!
I will start my sweet stuff with tarts. I find it’s a good middle ground to start, you get to learn a little about pastries and learn a little about sweets with the fillings. This is a short crust pastry. Simply put, this pastry crumbles when cooked because we do not work the gluten at all. When gluten is worked or kneaded it stretches the gluten, like in breads giving allowing the final product be structurally stronger.
Keep this recipe, I will refer to it at times when I blog about different types of fillings.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Makes 21-22 tart cases
400gr Butter – cut into 2cm cubes, kept chilled
670 Plain Flour – chilled
20ml Lemon Juice/Vinegar chilled
100gr Caster Sugar – chilled
170ml Water – chilled
- Take the butter 15-20 minutes out of the fridge prior to working with it
- Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well
- Place the butter in with the flour and rub the flour into the butter cubes. Make sure you work in a cool place, you want to avoid the butter from melting
- Once the flour is semi rubbed, start to prepare your water mixture
- Mix the lemon juice (vinegar), sugar and water in a jug with a fork until the sugar is dissolved
- Sprinkle the sugar water onto the butter/flour mix and smooth it into the flour using the palms of your hands. Do not over work the pastry just enough to incorporate all ingredients into one smooth dough
- Clump the pastry all together, you can use the pastry to pick up all the other bits off the bowl
- Break the dough into two and wrap with cling film, refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Flour a bench down well and place the dough on top
10. Flour the dough well. Initially press down with the palm of your hand until you get a flat surface, try to shape it in a long rectangular shape
11. Using a rolling pin, pin the dough evenly, lifting it off the surface every now and again to loosen it so as it gets pinned the dough doesn’t break up as much or rip and allows it to “relax”
12. From here, you can flour the surface of the dough and freeze with baking sheets in between or you can use it straight away
13. If you are making tart shells, pre heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius and cut out discs using 10cm round cutters
14. Butter the inside of an 8cm tart tin and press the pastry in gently, leaving about 2mm above each tin for shrinkage
15. Ball up any left over dough and use it to press the edges and corners tighter into the tin. Refrigerate for 10 minutes
16. Place two pieces of foil totally covering the all the surface of the dough
17. Place baking beads or dried chick peas in the tart, level to edges
18. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown