Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – More Pie Dough

As easy as 3-2-1; that’s how making pie dough goes when you forget about how difficult everyone says making it is and you focus on the ratio and method. I had one remaining disc from yesterday’s pie dough making to use and today seemed like a great day to use it. I have a work activity tomorrow that my team is sponsoring so in addition to using my remaining disc I also decided to create another batch, but this time of pâte sucrée or dough with the addition of sugar to make both a French Apple Tart and French Peach Tart.

Using the first disc, I created chocolate tarts which consisted of molded dough and chocolate ganache I made by using 2 parts chocolate and 1 part heavy cream (Ruhlman’s book has a ratio for this in the coming chapters so it will be interesting to compare my results). These proved to be harder to make than I anticipated. To create the “cups” for the chocolate, I rolled out the disc and then cut it into squares. Each square was then pinched together with corners touching and molded into a cup. In order to get this done, I split the disc into three equal sections and stored each “batch” in the refrigerator as I worked on the next.

Each time I pulled the tray out for the new cups, I noticed that the previous ones had hardened up in their cup form and were cool to the touch. A good sign.

Pie Dough: Tart Cups
Pie Dough: Tart Cups

My one mistake with these was to not firm up the last batch of cups in the fridge before I put them into the preheated oven at 325 degrees F. When I took them out after 15 minutes, the ones that were not cooled had flattened out, losing the desired cup shape. Others puffed up with steam, perhaps as a result of me not docking the bakes with a fork. This did not deter me as the final taste would not be affected.

As the cups were baking, I worked on the ganache, bringing 4 ounces of heavy cream to a simmer and then pouring it over a measured 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate pieces. After the warm cream had melted most of the chocolate, I used the mixer to combine the too into what can be described as pure chocolate decadence.

Using a spoon, the ganache was placed into the successful and not-so-successful cups alike and allowed to cool.

Pie Dough: Chocolate Ganache Tarts
Pie Dough: Chocolate Ganache Tarts

I clearly had made too much of the chocolate ganache which can hardly be viewed as a bad thing unless one is considering diet. Thoughts like this make me wonder how the average amount of weight gained at culinary school can only be 10 pounds as indicated by Chef Roberta during the info session at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. My pants waistlines will have to be my mindful helpers in my desire not to gain weight as I learn the culinary arts.

With one batch of pie dough under my belt, the second batch of dough was a breeze to make in the stand mixer. I poured my ingredients in and in no time had my dough ready to rest and cool in the refrigerator.

Pie Dough: Mixing in my KitchenAid
Pie Dough: Mixing in my KitchenAid

As the dough cooled, I cut 3 apples and 3 peaches into slices and set them aside. I then rolled out the dough into two rectangles, a task not easy to do when the dough is cold. The peach and apple slices were placed on top as well as a half cup of sugar on top of each and squares of butter and set to bake for 30 minutes. This dough seemed to cook much faster than previous doughs I have made before and actually burned a bit to my disappointment. I wasn’t about to through everything out after all the time I had spent, especially with the rolling and shaping of the dough, and hoped that people wouldn’t mind tomorrow. As the tarts baked, I heated up a cup and a half of apricot jelly with 2tbs of spiced rum and poured this over the tarts as soon as they were pulled out of the oven and left everything to cool.

Pie Dough: Apple Tart
Pie Dough: Apple Tart
Pie Dough: Peach Tart
Pie Dough: Peach Tart

With any luck, everything will taste as amazing as it looks. I’ll have to admit, I did taste the chocolate tarts to ensure that they were suitable for consumption. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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Not As Easy As It Looks: French Apple Tart

A few weeks ago I turned on the the TV to watch the Food Network, a common occurrence these days.  The Barefoot Contessa was on with a “back to basics” special, so I decided to stay tuned in. If only you could order a cable package with just the Food Network. One items she made caught my eye, a French Apple Tart. It looked simple to make and when done, looked delicious. I figured, why not make it when I have some free time? I bought the apples and apricot jam that I needed and put them away until I had time. Tonight was such an occasion. I don’t know why I chose to spend my time this way. My cupboards and freezer are jammed packed with bread and cookies, and now I have more items to add to them.

I created my dough and put it in the fridge to stay cool for one hour. I then started peeling the apples and realized my peeler sucks; this is the first Oxo product that I would have to say is no good. Once peeled, I realized coring them would be a problem. I don’t have a melon baller, so I had to use a pairing knife. This is the second Oxo product that I have that is no good. The handle was just too big, and the apples were just too delicate. I was able to cut my slices and get them ready. Time passed and my hour was up. My next task was to roll out my dough. The dough was tough to roll and a bit dry and started to split as it became thinner and thinner. As I pressed on,  I realized that I would have to do some serious cutting to make it rectangular and uniform. This left me with some extra dough

With the dough rolled out, it was placed on parchment paper set on top of a non-stick cookie sheet. The oven was preheated to 400 degrees F and I started to place my apples on top diagonally as described. I next placed the sugar on top and then cubes of butter throughout.

French Apple Tart Ready for the Oven
French Apple Tart Ready for the Oven

I set my timer to one hour and then placed the cookie sheet into the oven. The recipe said that it should take between 45 to 60 minutes so I figured at 45 minutes I would check in for doneness (…is that a word?). At 45 minutes, it looked close to ready so I let it stay for another 10 minutes. That clearly was too long. My edges burned and as I opened the oven door smoke billowed out causing my smoke detector to go off. I’m sure my neighbors love me. I pulled out the apple tart and set it to cool.

My Baked French Apple Tart
My Baked French Apple Tart

In the meantime I heated up some apricot jelly and rum in a sauce pan to thin it out. I then drizzled the mixture on top of the tart and let it cool before taking the first bite.

French Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze
French Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze

Despite the burnt edges, the apple tart is amazing. My tart was smaller than it was supposed to be, and that might have contributed to the baking results. I also shouldn’t have let it stay for another 10 minutes, but I was afraid of opening the oven too many times and causing the temperature to drop. I envy those with a glass window in their oven doors that allows them to check their food. I also envy those with gas stoves and ovens, but I don’t want to get too greedy. One can dream.

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