apple tart

Happy Sunday, everyone! Since we made the Salty Nut Tart a few weeks back with our fellow Dessert People, our next bake from the Pies and Tarts chapter of the book was Claire’s Apple Tart. The base of this tart was another Foundational Recipe (the Rough Puff Pastry), which means we were able to check off recipes 23 and 24. Almost a quarter of the way through!

Lauren’s Take

Hello to all and happy belated Father’s Day! (And happy belated posting because yesterday a lot of babies wanted to be born). This week we made Claire’s Apple Tart with…wait for it…Rough Puff Pastry! Now, as a long-time fan of Great British Bake-Off but not a super experienced baker, I would hear the term “rough puff” said multiple times a season and watch with wonderment at the creations. Julia and I were both so excited to make our first rough puff and really start to step into the light of “real” bakers like the ones we love to watch on TV. With that excitement came some doubt, some questioning, some cheering, and a whole lot of butter.

At the core (pun intended) of this recipe, there isn’t a lot to it. You make a pastry, make a compote, slice some apples and bake. Time management is a good thing to have on your side when deciding when you’re going to do this bake because the rough puff pastry does need to be chilled a couple times before it’s ready to be shaped. The first component is to make the rough puff. This was actually easier than I thought, which was a comforting surprise. You start by freezing 1.5 sticks of butter and the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt), and then refrigerating the other 1.5 sticks of butter cut into thin slices. Once the butter from the freezer is firm, you grate it into the dry ingredients and toss together. Then you add the sliced butter for the fridge and slowly add ice water until the dough comes together. As Claire states in the recipe, this dough is meant to look and feel quite dryer than your average pie dough so I really had to restrain myself from adding more water. You then place the clumps of dough in plastic wrap, mold into a square and refrigerate for 2 hours. After that, you do the folds.

(Duh, duh, duuuuuuuh). Full honesty, this was the part I messed up. You take the chilled dough out of the fridge, let it warm up a touch, hit it with the rolling pin and then roll it out into a long rectangle, and then do the letter fold. You then rotate the dough 90 degrees and do it again. Once you’ve done that you cut the folded dough in half and should be able to see thin lines of dough throughout. After my first go, I did not. I mistakenly rolled it out too thin the first time and I think I folded it the wrong way the second? Either way, wasn’t pretty. So I let the dough chill for a bit longer and did it all over again, and this time, I had thin lines. They weren’t super distinguishable but they were there so I decided to go for it.

This recipe only calls for half of the rough puff recipe, so I put half in the fridge to chill for my apple tart and the other half in the freezer for later. While the dough was chilling, I made the compote. This was so enjoyable because it just smelt so damn good. You put brown sugar, salt, and butter in the pot on the stove, and once it thickens add some chopped Pink Lady apples. Once these apples start to caramelize, you add some apple cider and let the mixture reduce while stirring and mashing up the apples. Eventually, you start to get what looks like a chunky applesauce, that looks and smells and tastes so delicious. Tears were wept for this applesauce it was so good. Once the applesauce compote is ready, you let it chill in the fridge with the dough.

The next step is to thinly slice the apples for the top of the tart. Claire describes a very easy method in which you cut the apple in four segments around the core, which is maybe the simplest way I have been taught to core an apple (#claireforthewin). You end up with TONS of apple slices and trust, I don’t think you need this much. I sliced the remaining three apples which was dictated in the recipe, but I think you could safety get away with only using two and probably still have some left over. By the time my apples were sliced, my dough had chilled long enough. You roll it out into a roughly 13 by 9 inch rectangle, place it on a baking sheet, and then perforate holes all around the dough, leaving a one inch border all the way around. Along the border, you brush with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar. Inside the border, you place your cold apple sauce (mine was not cold enough and I think melted some butter in the pastry so please be more patient than me). And then on top of that, you fan out your apple slices, and brush those with some melted butter and apple cider. At this stage, the tart already looks so beautiful and each component visually compliments each other so well.

Then you bake! I was very nervous and watched like a hawk this round after burning my galette, and I found that after 40 minutes my tart was done and nicely golden brown on the outside. In retrospect, I do think I under-baked a tad but it still looked great and I could see LAYERS in the pastry! Nothing has ever brought me more joy. Except for when I tasted it. Friends, this tart was unreal. The pastry was so flaky and buttery. The compote was not too sweet or too tart, and the apples on top just really completed the whole thing. I don’t know if I can even truly describe how good this dessert tasted; you really just have to make it and experience it. I must say too, it was nice to be introduced to our first pastry dough in an otherwise fairly simple recipe, so mad ups to Claire for that. This tart was everything and I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy it someday. Definitely a 5 star from me!

Julia’s Take

Apple desserts must be one of the most comforting things in the world! Friday happened to be a super grey, rainy day here in North Bay so even though apples don’t necessarily scream summer, it felt like the perfect time to make this recipe. The photo of this tart in the book is so beautiful, and Claire’s description of her time in culinary school in Paris going to cafes and buying fancy apple pastries (I love bougey Claire) totally set the vibe to take on this bake. I had never made Rough Puff before, and have heard that homemade puff pastry is something most people opt out of, just because it’s so much work and the frozen versions you can buy are just as good, so I was a little nervous but also very excited to take it on!

The pastry itself took 3-4 hours start to finish. Everything starts off SUPER cold—flour, sugar, salt, and half the butter sit in the freezer for about 20 minutes while the other half of the butter is sliced thinly and refrigerated. The frozen butter is grated into the dry ingredients first, and then the slices are tossed in; the two textures of butter help to create extra flakiness in the dough. The buttery dough comes together slowly with some ice water; I was surprised at how dry the dough still felt and was worried I’d done something wrong, but I resisted the urge to add too much water and just wrapped the pieces of dough together tightly in plastic like Claire suggests. Once it’s all wrapped up and pressed into a square shape, it sits in the fridge for 2 hours. Once the cooled dough is unwrapped and rolled out, you can see how the butter sets and brings the shaggy dough together into something smooth and really easy to work with.

The pastry then goes through a series of “turn and folds”—roll the dough out into a long rectangle, do an envelope fold, turn it 90 degrees, roll it out again into a long rectangle, do another envelope fold, then re-wrap the square and let it set in the fridge for another hour. After this final set, which helps the gluten relax so your dough doesn’t spring back too much, the square is cut in half and is ready to use; Claire’s recipe makes enough dough for two tarts; if I was going to go through all the work of making this pastry, I figured I may as well make the full batch, and now I have one sheet frozen and ready to use for a future bake!

Cutting the block of pastry in half was such a fun moment because that’s the first time you get to see how well your turn and folds worked out. Pulling the two pieces apart and seeing all of those thin, tiny little layers built into the dough is so cool and SO satisfying. It’s amazing what you can get just by combining butter and flour together and folding it a bunch of times. As our other sister said to me when I was explaining this process: “Who figured out how to do all this stuff?” I googled it and his name was Claude Gelée; apparently he made the first laminated dough in 1645 and it was a total accident—in case anyone was curious 😉 Thanks, Claude!

I used all the fridge setting time with the pastry to prep the other components of the tart. The compote layer comes together with chunks of apple (I used Pink Lady like Claire recommends, but you could easily use any apple), brown sugar, butter, vanilla, some salt, and then—once the chunks have softened a bit—some apple cider. The mixture comes to a boil, the apple is broken down with a potato masher, and then gets cooked down until there is no moisture left. This takes a while, but what you’re left with is a really caramelized, super golden applesauce. I would make just this on its own again. My house smelled amazingggg.

When the pastry is ready to go, it’s rolled into a rectangle, the edges are trimmed and then brushed with egg wash and some sugar, and then the middle of the tart is covered with a layer of the compote. Thin slices of apple are arranged on top and brushed with melted butter and apple cider, and then the whole tart bakes for about 40 minutes. I’ve learned to really watch my oven and usually opt for the lower end of suggested cooking time in the book with these pastries (total opposite of the loaves and single layer cakes, where everything needed longer).

I took the little trimmed off edges and put those in the oven too as a tester/snack, and let me tell you, never as there been a more thrilling moment then when I pulled those little pieces out and saw how they’d puffed up and created the most amazing, flaky layers. Fast forward 40 minutes after that, and pulling out the beautiful tart and seeing the amazing results on that puff pastry was so, so rewarding. I could not believe I had made this thing!

THIS. TART. WAS. SO. GOOD. I felt like I was sitting in one of those little cafes in Paris being bougey with my girl Claire. Very few things that I’ve made in the past have made me feel as proud as this one has. The pastry was so buttery and incredibly flaky, the compote was so rich in flavour, and the layer of glazed apple broke up the richness and added a nice, fresher crunch. I would eat this tart every day for the rest of my life. 5 stars!!

Next week, we’re making another summer favourite: Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie 😉

pistachio linzer tart

Welcome back everyone, and Happy Sunday! This week’s recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person is the Pistachio Linzer Tart. This marks bake number 22 for us!

Lauren’s Take

Hello all! And hello to beautiful warm weather, sunshine, and the beginning of patio season in Ontario! This weekend was lovely for so many reasons; I was off call, the weather was wonderful, the streets were full of happy people eating at restaurants once more, and I got to make another killer dessert from Dessert Person (apologies for my failure to perform last week). The recipe up this week was the Pistachio Linzer Tart. This bake came at a convenient time for those of us baking in order because I had a bunch of pistachios left from the galette last week! I just want to take a quick moment to point out something obvious and that is—pistachios are expensive. I know Claire says you can sub them out for another nut, and I’m glad she does because my lord, they break the bank. Aside from this recipe sparking my frugality, I was excited because I had never made, nor heard of, a linzer tart before.

This recipe at first can seem a bit daunting. Firstly, it calls for a pastry bag which always sparks some fear for me, and the picture in the book versus how making the dessert is described was confusing to me. Her photo looked perfect and neat (as per usual), but when I was visualizing how it was going to come together based on the steps, it didn’t seem to make sense. You start off by toasting the pistachios and then combining them with flour, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. I ended up realizing that I had some unsalted pistachios and some salted, so I just omitted the salt in the mixture. You then remove the dry mixture and add sugar and butter to the food processor, blend until smooth, and then add an egg, vanilla, and lemon zest. Finally, you re-add the dry, nutty mixture and create a SUPER thick batter.

Here was when the beginning of my downfall began. Being the sub-par mathematician that I am (stay in school kids), I foolishly thought that instead of using a 9-inch round, I could use a 9-inch square tart pan and be fine. Wrong. The area of those two things are vastly different. I took out what I believed to be half of the mixture and spread it into a thin layer at the bottom of my tart pan and just kept a keen eye while baking to make sure it didn’t burn. It came out after 20 minutes and looked beautiful—nicely golden, firm to the touch. I was so pleased and thought I had evaded any shenanigans for this bake. Wrong.

The next step is to add the jam of your choice combined with a bit of lemon juice on top of the tart bottom you just baked. I chose raspberry because I thought it would compliment the pistachios well. You leave about a 1/2inch border on the end when spreading the jam so you can get that effect of the jam being enclosed by the tart after you add the top layer. After adding the jam, I still felt great. But then things really took a turn.

For Christmas one year, my lovely parents got me this tool that helps you to ice cakes/pipe things instead of using a pastry bag. It is plastic, super easy to fill, and then has a button you press to slowly release whatever is inside. It is wonderful and I would 10/10 recommend for ease of use and also less waste because you aren’t discarding pastry bags. I filled my little tool, chose which tip to pipe with, and then disaster struck. I maybe piped two or three lines across the tart and was out of batter. I felt so defeated, I tried to spread what I had piped to see if it would cover things (massive mistake), I yelled, I almost cried. It was not good. Then my lovely partner, looking at me with so much sympathy, said “You gotta make more batter.” He was right. I was out of pistachios so I made a quick run to the grocery store and when I came back he had cleaned everything for me and prepared all the ingredients so I could start fresh (mad props to Ben on this recipe). I made another full recipe and used all of it to pipe on the top. Just a heads up, even with this tool, piping the batter was difficult because of the thickness of it. So just go slow and if the line breaks, just keep going—it’ll still work out fine.

The completed tart bakes for about 30 minutes, just as the sides are beginning to become golden. The colour of the tart is quite pleasing, especially with the golden hints over the top, but I gotta be honest, it’s not the prettiest dessert. I don’t know what kind of piping tool magic Claire had but I don’t find the aesthetic is as easy to replicate with this recipe. Taste-wise though I really liked this tart. The jam adds some needed sweetness and moist-ness (if it’s not a word it is now) to the dessert, and the tart itself taste likes a delicious sugar cookie. You definitely get the hints of cinnamon and lemon zest in the tart; once again though, I think Claire went a bit heavy handed with her amount of citrus zest because the lemon does tend to overpower the pistachio flavour. All in all though, a fairly simple dessert (if you have the right sized dish or can do math correctly). And I always find it’s fun to bake desserts from other countries. I’d give this one 4 stars!

Julia’s Take

It’s been a great few days here in lovely Northern Ontario, with so many hot, summer days, my first official beach hang of the season, a garden that is exploding, and—at long last—a pandemic lockdown that has eased up and the opportunity for some long-awaited patio drinks with friends. I kept postponing my plans to make this week’s recipe in place of outdoor activities, but I was finally able to squeeze in some time to bake Saturday afternoon in between visits to our very-much-missed local establishments!

This week’s Pistachio Linzer Tart is an Austrian dessert that I was unfamiliar with. I have made Linzer cookies before around Christmas time, and knew that there is usually a nut-flavoured dough of some kind, and a jam of some kind. Both of those things came into play in Claire’s recipe, with toasted pistachios being blended up with flour, cinnamon, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest to create a batter, and a thick layer of raspberry jam in the middle. It was a pretty straightforward bake in terms of both ingredients and process compared to the last two weeks.

The tart is baked in two rounds. Once the batter comes together, it is spread thinly into a tart pan (I tried out a new rectangular shape for this recipe, which I loved! These are the things I get excited about this days…) and then bakes for about 20 minutes. Once the tart shell has cooled, the raspberry jam, thinned out with a bit of lemon juice, gets spread over top and then the rest of the batter is piped over the jam to close in the tart. Piping has NEVER been my strong suit. I don’t know what it is—I’ve tried all kinds of different bags, tip sizes and styles, mixtures thick and thin, and I never seem to be able to control what I’m doing. Not looking promising for the Layer Cakes & Fancy Desserts chapter, but I’m bound to improve eventually. I chose a star-shaped tip in this case in hopes of creating a bit of a ridged effect on the tart similar to the picture in the book. This worked out decently well, but the batter was SO thick that it was extremely hard to get out in thin, even lines. I managed to fill in some of the breaks and gaps as I went, and the end result was pretty good, but it’s not the best looking thing I’ve ever made, that is for sure. That tart then baked for another 30 minutes—which I ended up doing in two installments of 15-minutes each because, again, it was a sunny Saturday and there are finally things to do again! No harm, no foul.

The flavour of the tart was wonderful! I used about half the amount of lemon zest the recipe called for because I learned my lesson from the extremely orangey rhubarb loaf, and the pistachio and raspberry came through so nicely. I would probably make just this tart-shell batter again and eat it on its own because it was SO delicious. The base is basically equal parts pulsed up pistachios and flour, so the nutty flavour was super prominent and it smelled amazing; it also had the best flaky texture from all the butter. The top part was a little softer than I was expecting, but I still ended up with a nice crisp from the bottom layer. Now that the world is (slowly, optimistically) starting to open up again, let’s hope the next time I eat a linzer tart, it’ll be in Austria! This was a 4-star bake for me!

Coming up next week: Claire’s Apple Tart!

plum galette with polenta & pistachios

This week brings us recipes 20 and 21 from Claire Saffit’z Dessert Person—our first attempt at the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough (another one of the Foundational Recipes in the book), which is then used to bake our second recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter, the Plum Galette with Polenta and Pistachios.

Lauren’s Take

**check back tomorrow for Lauren’s updates. She’s been very busy delivering babies this week!**

Julia’s Take

Welcome back, friends! Here in Ontario, it feels like summer is already in full swing. My garden is planted, the heat and the sun make me feel like a new human, and I’m just counting down the days until I wrap up teaching for the year and get a few weeks of down time after a super chaotic year. I’m looking forward to watching my plants thrive, camping trips, beach days, picnics, and hopefully long-overdue catch-ups with friends as we (hopefully!) start to come out on the other side of this pandemic; I’m also looking forward to all the new recipes we get to experiment with in the upcoming months! What excites me most about working through this next chapter in the book is not only all of the different flavours and types of produce we get to use this summer, but also that most of the Pies and Tarts recipes require multiple bakes within the full bake itself. This means we’re getting to work more with different doughs and test out a variety of techniques.

This week, the Foundational Recipe was Claire’s Flaky All-Butter Pie dough. There’s nothing better than a really crispy pie dough so I couldn’t wait to try Claire’s take on this—and it totally delivered! The process is pretty standard from what I could tell (I’m no pie expert…): mix together flour and cubes of cold butter with your fingers until it’s combined, and then drizzle in ice water to help the dough come together. Claire’s recipe calls for butter to be added in two ways—the standard cubes as well as thinner slices. The idea is that the cubes are broken down into pea-size pieces with the flour, while the slices stay slightly larger so that you sort of have shards of butter scattered in throughout the dough for extra flakiness. Once the dough comes together, it’s wrapped up and sits in the fridge for 4 hours. This would normally be the time to roll out the chilled dough and prepare to bake, but Claire recommends an optional extra step of rolling out the dough and doing an envelope fold before letting it sit another 30 minutes. The folding technique means that you’re creating even more flaky layers within your crust so that it almost becomes a hybrid of pie crust and laminated dough (which you’d use for danishes or croissants). Who doesn’t want more flakiness?!

The only issue I had with my dough was that it gets wrapped up and chilled as a square but the recipe asks you to roll it out into a circle. I’m no geometry wiz and so trying to turn a square into a circle was slightly challenging; I ended up with more of a rectangle with a couple of rounded edges. Ultimately, as long as the surface of the dough is large enough to hold your filling, I don’t think the shape matters much—but I will definitely be practicing my rolling techniques this summer.

The filling of the galette came together really easily because it didn’t involve any cooking. The plums are cut in half (or into smaller slices depending on their size); shelled pistachios are toasted for a few minutes in the oven; and then cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, and the chopped-up toasted pistachios are mixed together. The recipe calls for either polenta or cornmeal (I don’t think there’s really any difference between these two things from what I’ve read); I already had a big bag of corn flour in my house and since the filling only requires 2 tablespoons, I didn’t think it was worth it to buy a whole new bag of something. Corn flour is ground up more finely than cornmeal, so I’m sure there was a slight texture difference, but ultimately I think it was pretty subtle and worked out fine.

I was skeptical about the addition of cornmeal/corn flour in the recipe, but as usual the finished product was something surprisingly delicious. The corn flour/sugar/pistachio mixture gets sprinkled evenly over the rolled-out pie dough, and then it’s topped with the plums and a drizzle of honey. You leave an inch or so border of dough, which then gets folded up over the filling on all sides, pinched together, and covered in an egg wash. The crust and filling are all sprinkled with a bit more sugar and then the galette bakes. What you end up getting from the seemingly random cornmeal is such an interesting combination of textures: the crispy, flaky crust, followed by a smooth, sweet, and also crunchy later from the cornmeal and pistachios, and then the super jammy plums on top. A total winner!

My main criticism is that, like several of the recipes so far, the bake times seemed a bit off. The book says to turn the oven temp to 425 and bake the galette for 45-55 minutes. This seemed way too hot to me, but I went with it and, sure enough, after about half an hour my crust was already edging on burnt. Luckily, Lauren had made this recipe a couple of days before me and had warned me to keep a close eye, and since my plums seemed cooked down enough, I just took the galette out of the oven after about 35 minutes. Next time I make this, I’ll likely turn down the temperature so the plums have a chance to cook down a little bit more before the crust becomes totally inedible.

Temperature issues aside, I absolutely loved both the process and the end result of this bake. It looked beautiful, and the flavours and textures were so incredible. 4.5 stars from me!

Next week we’ll be baking the Pistachio Linzer Tart. See you then!

cranberry pomegranate mousse pie

Happy Sunday, friends! We are kicking off the second chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person this week—Pies and Tarts—with bake number 19. This week’s recipe was the Cranberry Pomegranate Mousse Pie, and it was a delight!

Lauren’s Take

Hello hello hello! We have officially made it to the second chapter of the book! I am super excited to be in the world of pies and tarts. My previous experiences with baking have almost exclusively been making pies and tarts after the musical Waitress came out and I bought the pie cookbook— so it feels great to be in familiar territory and I’m excited for so many of the recipes in this section! The first recipe is the beautifully coloured Cranberry and Pomegranate Mousse Pie.

What I haven’t had experience with is making mousse. My only experience with or knowledge of mousse is every episode where they have to make it on the Great British Bake-Off and they’re afraid it’s not going to set in time. I obviously have unlimited time to let my bakes set but the panic still palpated within me nonetheless. This bake was very easy to make but creates such a well-balanced and satisfying dessert, and the colour is so striking.

You start by making the Graham Cracker Crust—Claire suggests making it with Biscoff cookies, which I couldn’t find so I just made it with regular graham crackers. We had been here before when making the cheesecake. With my cheesecake experience (please refer to the previous post to hear the entire sob story), I didn’t really get the full graham cracker crust experience because it turned out so soggy, so I was excited for a chance at redemption SANS water bath method. Can now confirm—the graham cracker crust is delicious and crispy, NOT non-existent and soggy.

After the crust has been made, baked, and cooled, you make the mousse filling. This was a fun process and introduced me to some ingredients I had never heard of before (looking at you, pomegranate molasses). You start by reducing cranberries with sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, salt, water and your new friend pomegranate molasses. You let this cook in order to create a compote with the cranberries. This is another example of where I had to cook it down quite a bit longer than the book listed. Once it has cooked down into a jam-like consistency, you strain in through a sieve and mix in some heavy cream. I was worried when straining that I didn’t have enough of the mixture, but everything still turned out fine, so don’t obsess over straining like I did. I think I ended up with around 3/4-1 cup.

You then let this mixture cool in the fridge while you soften the powdered gelatin over the stove and whisk some heavy cream to firm peaks. I had never used gelatin before and wow, it is maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever seen—the way it can dissolve when warmed and then re-solve (is this a word) when cooled and firm things up? Science is wild. You mix the gelatin into your cranberry/pomegranate mixture and then fold in the whipped cream slowly to create your mousse. You then pour the mousse into your crust and let it set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

I, the great planner that I am, did not read the recipe beforehand and realize how long it had to chill. So because I made it at 930pm, I left it to set overnight before trying it. Regardless of the time in the fridge, once it has set, you top it with more whipped cream, and some sugared cranberries. I had to use frozen cranberries, which Claire says you can’t use to make the sugared cranberries part, but it worked out fine for me! And voila that’s it!

This pie was light and airy, but also so rich, tart, and satisfying. I absolutely loved it. The tartness of the mousse was contrasted so well by the whipped cream, and then the lightness of the mousse worked so well with the graham cracker crust. Everything worked together in a beautiful harmonious way. Also, THIS is the pie you want to make at Thanksgiving and I think I might next year; it’s light, has those familiar Fall flavours, but also is a no-bake recipe, so it won’t take up precious real estate in your oven while cooking dinner. Genius. Claire, you’ve done it once again. I love this pie, I found a love and deep respect for the marvel that is gelatin, and I love mousse. 5 stars.

Julia’s Take

I was really looking forward to making this recipe because 1) I was super excited to officially get started with this new chapter of the book and start working on new kinds of bakes, and 2) it involved a whole bunch of ingredients I’d never used or tried before—pomegranate molasses, biscoff cookies (referred to as speculoos in some places), gelatin, and just generally the process of making a mousse.

It was a relatively quick and easy bake in terms of the actual work involved. The base of the pie is a variation of Claire’s Graham Cracker Crust, which uses Speculoos or Biscoff cookies in place of the graham crackers. This was my first time trying biscoff and I am now obsessed—they are sort of like if graham crackers and gingerbread had a baby. It looks like Claire uses this particular ingredient a few times and I cannot wait. They’re super delicious!

The crust comes together in the same way as the Graham Cracker Crust we made for the Goat Cheese Cake, and then bakes for about 15 minutes. While it was cooling, I made the mousse filling. The first step is to make the cranberry compote, which is obviously cranberries (I used frozen since fresh aren’t usually available in the grocery stores this time of year), sugar, water, orange juice/zest, a cinnamon stick, and the next never-before-used ingredient, pomegranate molasses. This was also SO GOOD and something I will absolutely use again, even for savoury recipes as a glaze or in salad dressings. This all cooks down until you get a jammy consistency and then you pour it through a mesh strainer. I was a little concerned I wasn’t going to have enough of the compote because there was quite a bit of discarded cranberry leftover, but it seemed to work out fine in the end. I didn’t feel great about all the cranberry that kind of went to waste, but not sure what else I could have used this for?

Once the compote also cools, you whisk in some gelatin powder that’s been softened with a bit of water and warmed up on the stove. While that sits, I whipped heavy cream to stiff peaks, and then that also gets folded in to the compote/gelatin mixture. This all gets poured into the cooled crust and sets in the fridge for at least four hours. It sounds like a lot of steps, and it was, but it wasn’t really anything too complicated or labour intensive. I did find myself going back to the book more often than usual though, just to make sure I was keeping track and wasn’t missing anything important. No one wants a runny mousse!

While my pie was setting, I moved on to one of the last steps which was making the sugared cranberries to go on top of the pie. Claire says in the book that you can’t make these if you’re using frozen cranberries but—sorry girl—I respectfully disagree. Fresh cranberries would definitely hold their shape a bit better I think, but the frozen ones worked out just fine. More of the sugar, pomegranate molasses, and water gets mixed down into a syrup, the cranberries go in for a few minutes to cook down and get coated, and then they sit on a wire rack until they’re cool and sort of sticky to the touch. Roll them around in some sugar, and you’re ready to go!

I decorated the top of my pie with more homemade whipped cream and the sugared cranberries like Claire suggests, and also added some orange rind spirals that I made by wrapping the rind around a wooden skewer. I know I say this basically every week, but this pie was SO delicious! The combination of flavours was really amazing, it was the perfect mix of sweet and tart, the colour was so beautiful and vibrant, and the silky-smooth mousse set perfectly. It was a great introduction to pies and I cannot wait for all the recipes to come this summer! This pie gets 5 stars from me!

Check back next week for our second pie: Plum Galette with Polenta and Pistachios!

salty nut tart with rosemary

We’re back with two more recipes from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person! This week we tackled our second Foundational Recipe, which was the Sweet Tart Dough. This was then used to make the Salty Nut Tart with Rosemary. For those that have been following along weekly, you may be confused about why we’ve suddenly skipped ahead before completing the Loaf Cakes and Single Layer Cakes chapter, but it was for a very special reason. Keep reading!

Lauren’s Take

Wow, what an exciting and unique baking experience for us this week! As we’ve mentioned before, baking through this book has introduced us to such a lovely, welcoming, and generous community of people all around the world who share our love of baking and of the queen herself. We’ve had the chance to get to know a lot of these people virtually, exchanging baking tips/success/fails, but this week, the group of us decided to pick a recipe and bake it together over Zoom! It was so cool to “meet” everyone, discuss our shared passion, and bake together. It was a beautiful reminder to both Julia and myself, especially in these difficult times, that there are good people everywhere and you can always find community.

That being said, the recipe from the book we all voted to make was the Salty Nut Tart with Rosemary. It was a bit of a skip ahead for Julia and I (wooooops) but not that far ahead so we figured it was okay 😉. It was a fairly simple recipe again, but allowed us to make our first dough from the book—Claire’s Sweet Tart Dough. This dough is made using a combination of roasted almond flour and All-Purpose flour which gives it a nuttier flavour. I also chose to substitute almond extract for vanilla extract to really bring the almond flavour out. This dough is very similar to the process of making pie dough, but includes more wet ingredients to really bring all the components together like more of a cookie dough. I did not have the recommended food processor to mix the dough together so used my stand mixer instead which worked out well! After letting the dough chill, you press it into the tart shell (thank you Jackie for letting me borrow yours!). Claire has a very easy method for pressing the dough into the shell that worked extremely well (check out her Meyer Lemon Tart video to see it!).

 

You then parbake the crust for about half an hour. Man, just this crust with nothing in it smells so incredible—it took everything I had to just let the crust sit there and leave it overnight to cool. My crust did shrink a tiny bit and had some cracks along the bottom that I just patched up with my leftover dough.

The next morning, we jumped on Zoom and made the filling with everyone! It was nice to have people there in real time that could reassure you when you thought you were messing something up! Making the filling is a pretty painless process; you first roast the pine nuts and walnuts (and oh man did I keep an eye on that oven for fear I would burn my pine nuts and therefore burn through so much of my cash money). Then you make the caramel mixture by heating honey, cream, olive oil, and corn syrup and then add some rosemary and you’re roasted nuts to that. Then you pour it into the tart and bake!

This tart coming out of the oven looked and smelled amaaaazing. I have never been so impressed with something I’ve made so far. The caramelized mixture of top just glistens and the rosemary spread over top adds some beautiful colour. And the aroma of honey, nuts, almond…just can’t be beat. The tart tasted a lot like a baklava; the combination of nuts with the honey provided a familiar and delicious taste. I did find it a bit sweet for me (probably will just add more salt next time!) so you really only need a small piece to hit that craving. The pastry is delicate and buttery and cuts super easily and is extremely satisfying both aesthetically and in taste.

I loved making this dessert with all of my dessert people and it tasted great, so really, it’s a win in my books! 4 stars for me!

Julia’s Take

As much as I’ve loved everything we’ve made so far in our Sisters & Saffitz project, this bake will always be extra memorable for me! For anyone who follows along with us on Instagram, you may have already seen that on Saturday morning, Lauren and I participated in a virtual bake-along with 15 of our fellow Dessert People. It’s obviously been so fun to bake through the book and compare results with each other, but what’s made the experience that much cooler has been this opportunity to find and connect with bakers from all over the world who are also baking their way through Claire’s book.

A couple of months ago, one of the bakers started a group chat on Instagram, and since then plans have been in motion to “meet” virtually and bake together. So this weekend, we did just that! There were Claire fans from all across Canada, the US, and as far as Dublin and Mumbai on the Zoom call. We’d arranged in advance to find a recipe that took less than 2 hours to bake, and ideally one that most of us hadn’t already made. That’s how we ended up at the Salty Nut Tart (definitely worth skipping ahead in the book for!). We had SO much fun getting to chat and bake with so many wonderful people. A little over half of the group was able to participate, and we look forward to more bake-alongs as we keep working through the book!

As far as the tart itself goes, this one was a MAJOR winner! I know I say this basically every week, but this one truly is one of my absolute favourites to date. Like we mentioned already, this was a two-part bake and allowed us to check off two more recipes from the book. First up was Claire’s Sweet Tart Dough, which we’d heard great things about. I made the dough and parbaked my crust the night before the bake-along; everything gets mixed up in a food processor, so was quick and easy. You start off by toasting some almond flour in the oven (had never heard of toasting flour before but let me tell you, it is a genius technique and you end up with the most incredible smell!). The toasted flour is combined with regular AP flour, powdered sugar, some salt, vanilla, an egg yolk, some cold water, and a whole bunch of cold butter!

I had a slight moment of panic after this because, as I started to spread my dough into the tart pan, I realized it was an 11” instead of the 9” pan the recipe called for. Cue me texting Lauren to see if she thought it would still work, calling my Mom to see what size pans she had, and texting a whole crew of friends asking if anyone had a 9” tart pan handy. Turns out this piece of equipment is harder to come by than you’d think—everyone I talked to only had either an 11” tart pan or a 9” springform pan. So, I decided to just wing it with the 11” inch, make a bit of extra dough in case anything cracked too much, and hope for the best. It ended up working out just fine! My crust was just a tiny bit thinner, which I didn’t mind.

The filling came together during our Zoom call, and was incredibly easy. Pine nuts and walnuts get toasted in the oven (you could easily substitute any nut you like); I was slightly frantic about burning my pine nuts because those things cost a small fortune, but there were no casualties! While they toasted, we brought the caramel ingredients together to a low simmer in a saucepan; the recipe calls for honey, sugar, some corn syrup, olive oil, and some heavy cream so definitely not a traditional caramel and it stays pretty loose until you toss in the nuts. Some fresh rosemary gets mixed in right at the end, which smells incredible, and then the tart shell is filled and everything bakes for about 25 minutes.

The whole tart is topped off with more fresh rosemary and flaky sea salt. The smell was unreal and it tasted even better! This tart is basically a bougey, better version of pecan pie. You get that same nutty, toffee-like filling but the addition of rosemary and salt makes it borderline savoury and helps cut through what could otherwise be that overwhelmingly sweet sensation you can get from other caramel-filled desserts. I loved this tart so, so, so much. I shared most of it with family, but could have easily eaten the whole thing myself. It’s a no-question 5 stars from me and I’ll be making it again and again!

Next week we’re back on track as we inch closer to finishing the first chapter of Dessert Person. We’ll be baking the Blood Orange Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake, which also happens to be the cover star of the book!