Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I bake a lot.

But I am truly rubbish at taking photos of it. I recently talked to a friend who happens to be a photo editor for a huge imagery company, and she gave me some tips so I am hoping my images will improve. That doesn't do much for the fact my greediness well outbalances my need to photograph so usually, by the time I get to the camera....pooof....nothing but crumbs remain.

Perfect case in point... I made a free form Apple Tart this past weekend to take to a dinner party and it was just amazing! We served it with caramel ice cream and it really couldn't have felt more in rhythm with the cold crisp weather we are having. Anyway, I had to literally move my friends out of the way to get these photos, a before and after shot, of the lovely, dreamy apple tarts.

I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe for the amazing Flaky Cream Cheese pie crust which is a god send if you are a pastry novice but still very useful for things like a free form tart when you don't have the pan supporting the weight of the filling. The crust was crisp and light, but still substantial enough to slice easily and provide a striking balance with the soft aromatic fruit.
I rolled out the dough and cut out a large circle by tracing around a bowl turned upside down and piled in the apple filling I made an hour earlier. For all you eagle eyes out there, the photos above aren't of the same tart. I ended up making one large one for 4 people to slice (on the left), and a second single serving (on the right) with the scraps.

My recipe:
Apple Tart Filling
4 Bramley Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 squeeze of half a lemon
2 tbsp Calvados
1 vanilla pod, scraped and seeded
1/2 cup of sugar (more if the apples are very tart)
1 nob of fresh ginger, (size of thumb tip) grated
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Stir all ingredients together and let rest, covered with plastic wrap for an hour.
- Scoop apples from bowl and pile neatly in the centre of rolled out dough.
- Fold edges of pastry around in a neat, overlapping fashion until secure
- Chop up 1 tbsp of butter and fleck on top of apples
- Egg wash pastry and sprinkle the whole tart with demerara sugar
- Bake at 180C or 350F until golden and bubbly, as well at the tart dough looking crisp
Serves 4 greedy people :-)

However, as promised, an catch up of sorts. I have been doing lots cupcaking lately and that has a lot to do with the wedding season that has just passed. I did two wedding cakes, one large and one not so large for two couples I adore. Both of whom share my love of simplicity and didn't want the normal fruit cake marzipan nightmares that pass for wedding cakes in this country.
So, I baked them these....

The big one on the left is Chocolate Truffle cupcakes (one of my best) and Apple Spice cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Exactly the right sort of flavours for a September wedding. The smaller one was made up of Lemon and Raspberry cupcakes with a lemon mousse icing and Guinness and Ginger cupcakes with spiced cream cheese icing.
Both times all of the guests fawned over them and of course I was very bashful about it, but inside I was so proud to give my friends such a gift. I love making things and I would much rather do something like this for people I love than buy them a matching kettle and toaster, or whatever trendy people ask for on their wedding lists... isn't that why we make things in the first place? To give people a unique joy that can't be bought? Well, I do anyway.


1 comment:

Michèle said...

Ok I know Im WAY behind in commenting on this one but wow! Lovely cupcakes! Guinness and ginger--absolutely brilliant. And I understand how giving something you've baked/made for someone feels much more satisfying than just another gift.
Oh and I'm totally going to use that cream cheese pastry recipe--it sounds awesome!