This week I had my first real test as to whether I improved my baking skills during my time at the San Francisco Baking Institute. I tried to reproduce both the rustic tarts and a modified fresh fruit tart at home. Thanks to all of the very positive feedback that I received from Jeff’s classmates (thank you, if you are reading!!!), I feel that my first attempt was a success : )
Let me first share with you the process of making the sucre dough. From what I understand, this process would be followed for making any pie crust. First, I sifted all of my dry ingredients into a large bowl. I cut my butter (which I kept in the refrigerator until JUST before it was needed) roughly into 1 inch squares and added the butter onto my dry ingredients. I turned out this mixture onto my table top. Luckily, our table is right beside the window. The cool weather outside helped keep the butter from melting.
In the top left photo, you can see the mixture just after I had turned it out onto the table. Using my dough blade, I began cutting the butter into my dry mixture, making sure to touch the mixture as little as possible with my warm hands. I continued to cut the butter until it was roughly pea-size, which you can see in the top right photo. At this point, I began adding my water a very little bit at a time. I continued to use my dough blade to gently fold the water into my dry ingredients. I occasionally used my hands to break up any pieces of very wet dough. I only added just enough water to bring my mixture together….basically, until it sticks together when I try to form a ball. The lower left photo shows my dough when it had reached this stage. The final stage in mixing my dough was to press and smear my dough (small amounts at a time) to form sheets of dough. In the end, I gathered the sheets of dough together and formed them into a ball. I wrapped the ball of dough in plastic wrap, pressed it slightly, and put the dough in the fridge to rest for 4 hours.
For my rustic tarts, I wanted to roll 100 g portions of dough roughly into circles 3 mm thick. Using my scale and dough blade, I portioned my dough and formed each 100 g portion into a ball. I kept the portions in the refrigerator, removing one at a time, for rolling. I stacked my circles of dough between sheets of plastic wrap and returned to the fridge until I was ready to fill with frangipane (2 parts almond cream to 1 part pastry cream) and fruit.
Once my frangipane and fruit were ready, I took my dough out of the refrigerator. I added frangipane to the middle of the dough and spread it out, leaving about 2 inches on the side. For my rustic tarts, I decided to use granny smith apples. I sliced the apples and placed slices in a circular pattern on top of the frangipane. I then folded up the sides of the dough, leaving an opening on top big enough to see most of the fruit. Because I did not want to bake these tarts until the next day, I wrapped the tarts at this point and placed them in the freezer over night. These tarts keep very well in the freezer for a couple of weeks.
The next day, I removed my tarts from the freezer. Aren’t they pretty : )
Although you can egg-wash the tarts before placing them in the freezer, I decided to wait until bake time. Using my pastry brush, I added the egg wash to the dough sides. I then spooned cinnamon and sugar on top of the apple slices. I placed the tarts in the oven for 35 minutes and crossed my fingers : )
After 35 minutes, I removed these beautiful tarts from the oven. The dough turned out flaky (although not as flaky as in class) and the frangipane was delicious. Next time, I will add more fruit to the top. However, I was satisfied with my first attempt to make rustic tarts at home!