Saturday, April 19, 2014

Getting back to normal.

Long work weeks throw off my routine.  One of the first things I did after the meetings, to get my routine back on track, was to bake.  Bake a cake or pie, and all seems right with the world, at least for a little while. 

Two favorites currently on rotation: some kind of pear tart, either on puff pastry or in galette form, and a simple strawberry skillet pie. 

For the pear tart/galette, sometimes I just take puff pastry and throw on pear slices, spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar.  Other times, I make a frangipane (almond cream) base and then throw pears on it.  And still other times, particularly when I'm feeling less lazy, I do a frangipane base, pear slices, and then drizzle a ginger/vanilla glaze on top.  I've adapted the recipe from a few places, primarily from Amanda's Fait Tout blog.

Pear Tart
Recipe adapted from Fait Tout

1 sheet frozen puff-pastry (about 9" x 9"), thawed
1 1/2 pears, sliced thinly, skin on
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

If you'd like a frangipane base, you'll also need:
1/3 cup ground almond meal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (I usually put in a little more)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Make frangipane base by combining ground almond meal, sugar, egg, butter, cardamom and flour in a mixer or food processor. Blend until a creamy, smooth paste is formed. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan. Turn off heat, then add vanilla extract, cinnamon and grated ginger. Let cool slightly. Set aside.
  • Cut your pastry into a rough 9" x 5" rectangle. Score all four edges of the pastry sheet (about 1/4" from the edge). 
  • With a pastry brush, spread some of the butter/vanilla/cinnamon/ginger mixture on the puff pastry, making sure to stay within the boundaries of the scored lines. Then top with frangipane base.
  • Arrange the pears over the frangipane, brush the tops of the pear liberally with the remaining butter/vanilla/cinnamon/ginger mixture. Brush the edges with eggwash. 
  • Bake at 400F for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the top of the pears are caramelized.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes.

For the strawberry skillet pie, I use a simple recipe, found here, though I tend to also throw ground cardamom into the crumble mixture.  

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