June 18th, 2007

Pâte Sucrée (sweet pastry dough) recipe

Coco&Me - picture from the stall

(The other week, a photographer called Gideon came by my stall to take some pictures for a picture library. What was really nice was that he has sent me the pictures, like he promised to! – So refreshing, coz I’ve had so many photographers promising to send me a print, but then never do so… – Here’s one that I especially liked!)

.

x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x …

.

This week, it’s about the tart dough I make every week.
.
Like all the recipes on my blog, it’s tried & tested – I can confidently say that it works & it’s the best. It’s actually tasty & flavourful, you can happily eat it on its own, – not like a bland tart casing that gets forked to the side of the plate with dissapointment.
.
(O.M.G, I’ve come across sooo many unappetizing tart cases in cafes & restaurants, you wonder why you’ve bothered paying your hard-earned money for such a boring tart!

.

And has anyone noticed that many of these establishments are now using ‘ready-made’ empty tartelette shells they buy in bulk from the catering wholesalers? When I was in Bond Street a couple of weeks ago, I had the time to wonder in to a reputable department store there, & as I do, I check their basement cafe, hoping for quality inspiration, & was bitterly dissapointed that the fruit tarts they had on display were using the ‘ready-made tart shells’! With a more than worthy price tag nevertheless! The cheek! £3.75 for a factory made, poorly made, puny fruit tart anyone?

.

It reminds me a bit of that chef off the telly who keeps using ready-made sponge flan bases from the supermarket in his desserts – honestly, why use inferior products with additives & god knows what else in it, & spoil the taste of the dessert you’ve been slaving on?? It really angers me when I see such products advocated. I think the guy is missing the point of “fine pastry making”…)

.

x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x …

.

Pâte Sucrée:

Pronounced “paht sou-kray”, the texture of pâte sucrée is crisp & crumbly like cookies such as shortbread. The taste is buttery rich, but not overly sweet like what the name suggests. It can be used to make sweet tarts & as a thin sheet under mousse. The left over can become delicious cookies that children would love cutting shapes from. Pâte sucrée is known as a ‘short’ dough, because of its high fat content to flour.

.

Please note, my recipe is a little different compared to the classic Pâte Sucrée recipes around, as it uses some almond powder in it. I think that’s what makes this pastry dough especially flavourful!

.

Pâte Sucrée Recipe:

(To make enough dough for a 8 inch/ 20cm tart)

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter at room temperature … 55 grams
Castor sugar … 32 grams
Eggs … 20 grams
Almond powder … 15 grams
Plain flour … 100 grams

.

  • 1. Place the room teperature butter in a deep mixing bowl (so that it doesn’t spit everywhere when you’re whisking).
  • 2. Cream the butter using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat it till it is ‘creamy’ soft, smooth & light from incorporating the air.
  • 3. Mix in the sugar.
  • 4. Add the eggs bit by bit & whisk it all in.
  • 5. Then mix in the almond powder.
  • 6. Next, in goes the flour. Using a spatula, mix it all in by pushing it against the bowl. Or do what I do, which is to wear food gloves & get in there with your hands. It’s so much quicker to do it like that when you have a large quantity like I do.
  • 7. Pat it in to one big mound, & clingfilm it tight.
  • 8. Refrigerate overnight.
  • 9. When time has come for you to roll it, first prepare a lightly floured clean surface (I use a lightly floured silpat).
  • 10. Get your chunk of chilled pastry dough in the middle.
  • 11. Lightly flour the rolling pin & roll firmly in one direction only, then turn it 90 degrees and roll again. Repeat until desired thickness. Never ‘stretch’ it by hand as this would cause the tart to shrink in the oven!
  • 12. Once the pastry circle is larger than the size of the tin, roll the sheet of pastry around your rolling pin & lift it up.
  • 13. Gently lower it on to your tin. Unroll.
  • 14. Using your fingertips, take the edge of the pastry & ease it in to the sides.
  • 15. Roll the rolling pin across the top to cut the excess pastry off.
  • 16. Put the tin in the refrigerator to rest for atleast 30 minutes before baking.

.

x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x …

.

Top Tips:

  • Do not over mix. It produces gluten & make the dough tougher.
  • Try to work quickly, minimizing the amount you’re handling it.
  • Work in a cool room. You don’t want the butter to melt in the dough.
  • I wear food gloves. Not only is it hygienic, my warm hands won’t be in contact with the dough.
  • Pick the surface with fork if you’re blind baking.
  • Be absolutely precise with the measurements. if not, you’d either end up with sticky wet dough, or a crumbly dry dough! I always use a digital scale.
  • If the dough becomes too soft while you are rolling, re-chill for a while until it’s manageable again. Adding more flour to it to make it firm is a definate no-no. It’ll unbalance the carefully considered measurements.
  • And remember, prepare in advance! You need to rest the dough in the fridge for a whole night to let the gluten relax. It’s to make the dough workable & to prevent shrinkage. And when you’ve rolled it on to a tart tin, you need to put the tins back in the fridge for 30 minutes atleast – again to prevent shrinkage.

.

x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x … x …

June 12th, 2007

My dream kitchen scrapbook

covertiles.jpg (Covertiles from Studio JSPR. These are ceramic tiles that reveal the working parts, encasing the pipes & make a visual statement while at it! Comes in either black or white.)

shaker_kitchen.jpg

(Picture courtesy of Shaker Museum And Library. I would love the kitchen to be in the original Shaker style, surrounded by expertly crafted wood furniture & white wall. The counter with thick marble top looks amazing.)

large_belfast_sink36.jpg

(36″single bowl belfast sink. I want a really big sink like this that would fit my big pots!)

ceramic_drainer.jpg

(Ceramic drainer to put on top of the counter, along side the belfast sink. It’s slightly slanted for better drainage. Loving the subtle criss-cross lines.)
japanese_cabinet1.jpg
japanese_cabinet2.jpg
(Antique Japanese kitchen cabinets from www.tansu.co.uk – Traditional & functional statement furniture.)

ztt_1.jpg

(Zettel’z 6, 1998. Designed by Ingo Maurer. Imagine having the recipes hanging from this pendant!)

potence.jpg

(For the lighting, I’d also want to install this Jean Prouvé’s Potence lamp. Another design classic. The single metal rod extends almost 7 feet and pivots 180 degrees, so it can light various parts of the kitchen! Available from Vitra.)
beckeruten.jpg

(Uten.Silo designed by Dorothee Becker, 1969. With its different-sized & shaped containers, its metal hooks and clips, Uten.Silo is a great organizer! Another design classic again from Vitra.)

.

x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…x…

.

The last several months we’ve been looking ‘n looking ‘n looking for a house to either buy or to rent, as the sale of our family home is nearing it’s completion in coming September. Anyone who’d ever been house-hunting would agree that it’s a total ***** to go through – as you face the depressing reality of how little your money gets you, as you face the dissapointment of your offer not being accepted, & as you consider compromizing, ie, good location but small house VS bigger house in the sticks.

.

BUT, I am very glad to announce, after many heartaches, we’ve found ‘the one’ just last week! And our offer’s been accepted! Huurrayy! Yay! Yippee! – I know I know, there ain’t no ink on the papers yet, & some of my girlfriends would say “Oh don’t jinx it”, but I don’t believe in this ‘jinx’ business anyway. Infact I hate it when friends don’t tell you things, but goes on to tell another friend anyway, calling it a ‘secret’ & wink “Don’t tell anyone yet” – pure school playground behaviour if you ask me. As for me, when I’ve got good news, I’m just too happy to keep it schtum!

.

Anyway, one of the major deciding point for wanting to buy this particular house was because of the kitchen. It’s a pretty big size room with a slightly higher ceiling than normal, I fell in love with the space right away. And as you’ve probably guessed, I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen, so size matters big time.

.
Everything’s in pristine condition, ready for me to start cooking straight away – only…, it’s not in a style I like! How can I explain it… the current one’s so bland, no identity. The colour is so not me, & the layout is odd with two round sinks (!) on the island in the middle of the room. And the oven is on the small side, under the hob, which means I’d be constantly crouching down to access it (my current one is at eye level).

.

But I’m not too worried y’know, not only would it be a good thigh exercise to reach the oven (!), I know that it’s just a matter of changing it, getting a new kitchen installed. We won’t have the funds to do it for a looong while, but one day I’d like to. Oh heck, I’ll forfeit clothes shopping & going to the hairdressers, & skimp on giving tips at eateries n’ look bad to save money quicker to do it. For with passion for baking comes passionate ideas for the ultimate kitchen. It’s like hand-in-hand. And I can tell you, I’m a girl with serious backlog of dreams & ideas for ‘my’ kitchen!

.

So for this week’s blog entry, here are some of the kitchen ideas I’ve been fantasizing (the collection of pictures above this text), although most of it is probably wishfully thinking – *sigh…* if only money was not an issue!

June 5th, 2007

Wedding cake update

Coco&Me wedding cake picture

(Picture supplied by the happy couple, beautifully presented to me in a picture frame!)

.

This week I was given some photographs of the wedding cake I made several weeks ago, together with a very touching thank you card. So here’s one of the pic minus their faces. Notice the cute fimo figures on the top? The clever groom made it himself!! Everyone, one two three, ‘Ahhh…’! I’m so happy it travelled well all the way to Wales, & that the tiers withstood being stacked up during their wedding day. It doesn’t look like the leaning Tower of Pisa like I nightmared about atall! Yay!
.

Last Saturday at the market

… was H.O.T. And I find it’s extra hot under the plastic tarpaulin which covers our stall roofs. I was ‘baking’!

.

The line up of the things I make has changed a bit because of the weather change too. The handmade chocolates have long gone from the line-up for the mo, what with chocolate starting to melt from something like 19-20 degrees apparently, I’ll probably start making them again in mid-Autumn.

.

Others missing from the table are lemon-cream tarts, & chocolate cream/ ganache tarts, & so, to be honest, right now my stall table is looking rather ‘brown’ (except for the bright colours of the fruit tarts), just full of ’100% baked’ goods. A ‘baking’ lady selling baked cakes… yup, that’s me for the Summer…

.

PS: by the way, have you tried the new ice cream from Magnum called ‘Equador Dark‘ yet? Next time you’re choosing ice cream at the newsagents, believe me, give it a go. I can promise you it’s rather delish. (I was looking at the Magnum website, & they also have a single origin ice cream called ‘Colombia Aroma’ – has anyone tried this? Sounds good…!)