Forest Berry Tart

For just over a year, I have put being a “Chef” on the back burner in order to focus on my service education and wine studies. I can remember being much younger with my parents at a wine tasting. I also remember thinking that group of adults were crazy, there was no way you could pick up such complex flavors such as tobacco, mixed berries. Many years have passed since then, and I have completely fallen in love with the world of wine. I am trying my best to dive deep into my studies. As well as frequently tasting and trying to pick up minute complexities in wines that may not be overtly expressive.

During peak Berry Season, you can pick up almost all berries at Union Square Green Market in New York City. I wanted to make sure to familiarize myself with their scents and flavor profiles. Without a real plan for what to make with them, I threw them into yogurt, mixed drinks, and in sparkling water.

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Forest Berry Tart

As a final hurrah, I decided to throw together a Forest Berry Tart. Which is simply a Chocolate Tart Shell, with Sweetened Chantilly topped with all the berries. Below is the recipe I used for the tart shell, it is classic Chocolate Sable recipe.

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Tart Dough:

3 Tbsp (50 g)   Butter, Room Temp (Soft but not melting)

1/2 cup (75 g)  Confectioners sugar

1 each               Egg

1 pinch             Salt (If using salted butter, salt may be omitted.)

1/3 cup (45 g)  Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened Dutch Processed

2/3 cup (80 g)   Flour, sifted

-Whisk the butter in a mixing bowl until soft and creamy.

-Add the confectioners sugar.

-Whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Combine the egg and the salt and whisk into the mixture.

-Whisk in the flour.

-Turn out the dough onto a sanitized work surface and finish combining the ingredients, using your hand and a pastry scraper, until you have a smooth dough.

-Shape into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hrs.

Tip: Double the recipe and save half the dough in the freezer for a rainy baking day.

Adapted from French Patisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts 

I purchased the linked book above, and want to  make as many recipes from it as I can. I think its interesting to make and compare then with the standard recipes that I have been using for years.

Blackberry Apple Galette

In our hyper trendy social media world, I see that most bloggers and consumers alike are making blueberry tarts and such. But here in NY blueberries have yet to peak, they are still tart and slightly bitter. If I were desperate I would have to completely douse them in sugar in order to use them in a dessert preparation. Lucky for us New Yorkers, Blackberries are peaking right now and totally perfect for all your berry cravings.

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For the dough:

3 Tbsp (50 g)    Butter, Room Temp (Soft but not melting)

1/3 Cup (50 g)  Confectioners sugar

1 each               Egg

1 pinch             Salt (If using salted butter, salt may be omitted.)

1 cup (125 g)    Flour, sifted

-Whisk the butter in a mixing bowl until soft and creamy.

-Add the confectioners sugar.

-Whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Combine the egg and the salt and whisk into the mixture.

-Whisk in the flour.

-Turn out the dough onto a sanitized work surface and finish combining the ingredients, using your hand and a pastry scraper, until you have a smooth dough.

-Shape into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hrs.

Tip: Double the recipe and save half the dough in the freezer for a rainy baking day.

Adapted from French Patisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts 

I purchased the linked book above, and want to  make as many recipes from it as I can. I think its interesting to make and compare then with the standard recipes that I have been using for years.

Blackberry/Apple Filling:

3              Mealy  Apples (Sliced 1/8 in thin, I used a mandolin)

1(114g)   Stick of Butter

1 tsp        Cinnamon

1 pint     Blackberries, halved (We’re saving these for just before baking.)

-On Medium heat melt the butter.

-Lightly Sauté Apples to coat.

-Remove from heat.

-Stir in Cinnamon. Allow to mixture to cool.

Tip: I made each recipe, then assembled the galette the next day.

Assembly:

-Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 9″ round.

-Carefully transfer to a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.

-Mound apple filling in center of dough, leaving a 2″ border.

-Fold edges over, overlapping slightly.

-Lightly cover the Galette with plastic wrap.

-Put Galette in the refrigerator or freezer depending on whether you will bake it the same day or not.

 

Bake:

-Preheat oven to 350 F

-Brush dough with milk and sprinkle with sugar in the raw.

I find the sugar in the raw is accessible to everyone and has larger crystals than granulated, which helps for that decadent crust we are looking for.

-Top the Galette with halved Blackberries

-Bake galette until crust is dark golden brown and filling is bubbling

-About 45–50 minutes. Let cool before serving. If possible!

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You’ll notice I only add sugar to the dough. I find the dough is the only component that needs the sweetness. I would only make this tart when the fruit is perfectly ripe and in season. When these items are out of season there are so many other pastry options that can fill this void until berry season is upon us again. Adding ice cream is always an option, but honestly the blackberries are just perfect. I didn’t need or want anything else.

Apple Cake

As unimpressive as this cake may seem, it was almost revolutionary to me. Typically when I find that I have older apples, which are on the mealy side I end up sautéing them for a quick dessert.

I was thumbing through an Italian based Phaidon Cartoon Cookbook called Chop Sizzle Wow, I came across this recipe and really loved it. (As did the thousands of fruit flies who were able to try it as a result of leaving it out over night, don’t do that.)

1 3/4 Cups AP Flour

3/4 Cups Sugar

3/4 Stick of Butter  (Room temp, try and remember to leave it out before scaling the rest of your ingredients.)

3 Apples, Cored and Roughly diced

2 Eggs at Room Temperature

Whipped Cream for serving, (I doused mine is Powdered sugar)

Preheat oven to 350F

Grease an 8 inch Cake pan and throw it in the freezer.

Peel and core your apples, dice them according to your preference.

Whisk the eggs and sugars until pale and fluffy, just thick enough to hold a ribbon when you stir it. (About 10-12 min)

Whisk in butter, make sure it is smooth. (Recipe in the book says its okay if it looks lumpy. I would say that shouldn’t be the case if your butter was actually room temp. You should be able to press your thumb into it easily.)

Add flour in 2 parts alternating with the apples.

Transfer to the pan, try and spread the cake batter evenly into it.

Bake for about 40 minutes, let cool for about 15. Turn out onto a cooling rack. After that its all up to you to decide how long you’ll wait before you try it.

Enjoy!

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Orange Strawberry Shortcakes

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“The All-American Biscuit” according to a primarily Urban classically trained French Pastry Chef.

Lets start off with the difference between Biscuits and Shortcakes. Shortcakes are usually made with vegetable fat (think Shortening), have the addition of sugar in the actual dough, and are topped with sugar before baking. Creating a caramelized sugary crust. I find sometimes they end up dense and can be a bit sweet when you add sweet cream and ripe strawberries.

The use of Biscuit dough rather than a sweeter Shortcake dough is becoming more popular, and quite frankly I’m into it. If you miss the sugary crust you can always top your biscuit with sugar rather than salt in the following recipe.

I typically prefer a folded Biscuit vs. Drop Biscuits, so typically I use the following recipe and method. With that being said, I do love experimented and trying new recipes so watch out for new and improved methods in the future.

Be prepared to use your hands and have a clean work space for your dough. I believe mixing shortcakes by hand is the best way to mix your dough. Whenever I’ve tried to mix biscuit dough with a machine (especially in mass quantities), I’ve ended up with lower quality biscuits.*

Buttermilk Shortcakes (Biscuits)

2 1/4 Cups (290g)  All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons           Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon          Baking Soda

1 Stick (114 g)        Butter (Frozen)

2 1/4 Cup  (290g)   Buttermilk

-Scale dry ingredients.

-Mix the dry ingredients on a sanitized work space.

-Create a “well” and grate the frozen (with a cheese grater) butter into the center of the dry ingredients.

I don’t have a cheese grater at home, but I used a perforated spoon to grate my butter and it worked. 

You want the butter to be as cold as possible especially when mixing and folding the dough by hand. Which is why I make sure to scale the dry first. (You can always grate the butter and refrigerate it while you scale the dry, but that does involve more planning than I desire for home baking.)

-Add the Buttermilk and mix the ingredients together starting at the center and incorporating the dry ingredients from the outer circle.

Be sure to try and use your finger tips rather than the palm of your hand. I have a bad case of hot hands and have made a career of avoiding the use of my entire hand in delicate situations. I know its awkward at first but trust me its worth it.

-Fold the dough as you would fold a book at least 4 times before rolling the dough out to the desired thickness. I like my biscuits thick, so I aim for an inch and a half.

-Cut Biscuits with a 2 inch cutter, if you don’t have cutters. The average circumference of a glass is 2 1/2 inches, or even the lid to pam spray works. Basically any circular hollow household object (once cleaned and sanitized) will do.

-Brush with Cream and top with Salt.

I don’t specify salt in the ingredient list simply because what ever you have lying around at home should work. Running out and buying a specific type of salt and having it lie around the house seems so unnecessary. I used a thicker variety of sea salt, Maldon Salt is ideal because it is definitely more attractive. Just keep in mind the finer the grain of salt the more pronounced saltiness, so sprinkle according to your taste.

-Line a sheet tray with parchment paper, or grease your go-to cast iron pan.

-Bake at 425F for 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven.

*English (UK) Biscuits or Scones do work well with the help of various appliances.

Assembly:

When I am making my shortcakes, you best believe theres a biscuit in my mouth already. Fresh out of the oven EVERYTHING is always better.

You are not ready for the glutton that is my Short cakes.

-Cut the biscuits intended for Strawberry Shortcakes in half.

-Butter each side.

-Add whipped Cream. I usually do a Tablespoon of Powdered Sugar per cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, but trust your tastes and judgement.

-I also added Lavender Orange Marmalade, your favorite jam or  whatever you have lying around the house works.

-Quartered Fresh Strawberries.

I do not like macerated strawberries with my Shortcakes. If you are using perfectly ripe Strawberries there is no need. There’s a time and a place for macerated strawberries, just not in my biscuits!

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Pictured above are Harrys Berries Strawberries. My all-time favorite strawberries grown in California, which is a special treat in New York.