Featured Ingredient: Frustration
I think we've all been there. You are in charge of an entree, a dessert or even the entire meal and something goes horribly wrong, just doesn't work, or goes beyond the point of salvaging. Welcome to my Easter Weekend.
I was going to make fruit tart. I usually buy the large pre-made sponge shell and fill it with vanilla pastry cream and fresh fruit. This year, I couldn't find the shell, so I figured I could make a crust. I found one with almond paste (in a can) that I thought I would share on my blog. It turns out that was the beginning of the tart from hell. The instructions were not that descriptive and using my limited pastry behavior knowledge I combined the ingredients and let it rest in the fridge. The dough was very moist and when rolled out kept falling apart. Fortunately it was extremely forgiving and I was able to put it back together in the tart pan.
|Before the disaster|
However, when I blind baked the crust, I got baked sides and an uncooked bottom. Maybe I should have poked holes in it. The recipe I got this from said to just throw it in the oven. But I made that mistake with quiche in the past, where the dough rose so there was no divet left for pastry cream and fruit. So that went in the garbage.
This recipe also had a method for a mock pastry cream. I think the proportions were wrong because I got a yellow blob that wouldn't leave my whisk... this however I was able to thin out and save with some low fat milk... Thank heaven for small favors.
Take 2. I would make straight tart dough.
One of the annoying things about dough is it is a long process. You have to make your dough... let it rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour, then hope it rolls out OK, then hope it doesn't crack when you bake it. If it fails in the 3rd step and you have to redo it, that's another at least hour and half you have to invest. Versus something like whipped cream. If you let it go too far, you just pour in more whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla and let it run again for 5 minutes.
I've made dough in a stand mixer so I started the process there, then when the butter was more incorporated, I finished kneading by hand. I formed it into a ball and put it in the fridge. When I tried to roll it out, the dough kept cracking. Again I was able to reform it in the tart pan. But when it baked the dough shrunk so it looked a broken sidewalk.
That was it for tarts for now. I still had Sunday morning.
Since my kids don't eat fruit, I thought I could bake a marbled angel food cake and serve it with ice cream and chocolate sauce. It said to bake it on the lower third of the oven?? Ungreased tube pan?? I even reduced my baking time, because my oven tends to bake stuff faster. What did I get but a slighly burned cake stuck to the tube pan that never even rose properly. I never made angel food cake before and the recipe I used didn't explain how to incorporate the flour in as well as another recipe I read later. I got a gummy more dense cake, not the ethereal light hi-rise cake I see in the stores.
Tart Take 3
Now that I ran out of butter and was nearly out of flour. I ran to Stop & Shop which is ALWAYS open and restocked. I swallowed my pride and bought an Angel Food Cake. For the tart I was going to go with prepared pie crust as I was running out of time. Pie crust is a bit different than tart crust, but I use it for quiche and it's close enough.
Would you believe this also cracked! But only a little spot which I figured wouldn't matter. When I went to remove the bottom of the tart pan after I put the tart on cake tray, the sides and bottom cracked a little more. Oh my god. At that point I had one hour left. I gently put the one side back together and added my pastry cream. Fortunately with the consistency of the pastry cream, you don't have too worry too much about it oozing all over the place. In fact I was rather surprised when I finally served the tart, all the parts stayed together rather well. My husband said if you didn't tell anybody about the cracks no one would have known... or honestly cared.
In spite of the fact that I was baking for the holiest day of the year, and one of the desserts I was making was angel food cake, God was not on my side.
So what did we learn?
- If you are cooking for a special occasion use a proven recipe or really reliable source
- It's OK to substitute a store bought product or shortcut in cases of dire emergency
- If the meal was for your family they will still love you for the effort
- If it was for your business, use it as a learning experience and find another client -- the beauty of the food industry is everybody eats!
- We all make mistakes so just try to laugh it off
|Tart from Hell|