Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pastry Bag Technique: Needs Improvement

That's what it would say on my kitchen report card if such a thing existed.

Next time I'm just going to do alternating concentric circles of one type of cream, instead of trying to alternate within each circle. That'll probably look a little cleaner.


For everyday pies, I don't really see a reason to use anything but a crust-from-a-box. It's pretty much the same damn thing as a homemade pie crust, but without the hardest part - dealing with the cold, hard butter. The filling on this is just a standard lemon curd, and the topping vanilla and raspberry whipped cream.

Pre-heat oven to 450. Mix enough pie-crust mix (e.g. Betty Crocker) with water to make one crust. Roll it out to an 11 to 12 inch round. Butter a 9 to 10 inch tart pan (with false bottom) and drape crust over it. Press the crust down into the pan, taking care to move crust down from the sides into the dish rather than stretching the bottom crust to the walls - this helps avoid what every baker fears: shrinkage. Trim the crust so that about a half inch of overhang remains, and fold this overhang down to double up the thickness of the tart wall, so that about 1/4 inch of crust shows above the rim of the pan. Chill in the freezer for 10 min. Fork dough thoroughly and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool

  • 4 lemons
  • 1.5 c sugar
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 extra large eggs (at room temp - like the French do)
  • pinch salt
Zest the lemons (no pith, please) and chop the zest fine. The easiest way to do this is to mix the sugar and zest in a food processor and pulverize for a minute or so. Squeeze 1/2 cup of juice from your lemons and set it aside. Cream this lemon-sugar dust with the butter with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and salt and combine. Heat the mixture over LOW heat in a 2 qt saucepan, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes. When the curd has started to thicken, and coats the back of the spoon nicely, remove it from the heat. Pour warm curd into the cooled tart shell and let it set at room temperature for a few hours.

  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 heaping tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Handfull of washed raspberries
Before starting, throw a bowl and your beaters in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, and make sure the cream is ice cold. Mash the washed raspberries with a fork in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, and beat for about 15 seconds. Remove half of the cream mixture to a small bowl, and beat the remaining mixture to stiff peaks. Remove the vanilla whipped cream to a small bowl. Transfer the unbeaten mixture to the large bowl and beat until barely thickened. Add raspberries and beat to reasonably stiff peaks (something about the raspberries - acidity or juiciness perhaps - prevents the cream from fully whipping). Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, top cooled tart with concentric circles of whipped cream dots. As I mentioned in the intro I think I'm going to try alternating circles of vanilla and raspberry cream next time - at least until I get a little better with the pastry bag.

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