Sunday, March 28, 2010

"From scratch" part 2: Success!

Despite last week's fiasco with the flaky pastry, I was feeling confident as I began my attempt at sweet shortcrust pastry (p81). I learned a couple of things from the flaky pastry. One: Read the recipe - carefully! And two: Pastry is more forgiving than TV chefs would have you believe. Or at least I'm less fussy than they are!

Even so, I was quite surprised at just how easy sweet shortcrust pastry is to make. Cut the butter into the flour (or in my case rub it in - I just can't get the knack of cutting in butter), add sugar, a small amount of water and an egg yolk, and mix. That's it. No messing about with rolling, layering, kneading..

I thought it'd be quite difficult to mix - one egg yolk and one tablespoon of water does not seem like a lot of liquid, but I guess the high butter content helps, as it mixed up beautifully in quite a short time. About 10 minutes after making a start on the pastry, I was putting the finished product in the fridge to chill.

Half an hour later, I took out the pastry to begin my jam tart (p210). This recipe required only 200g of my pastry,  (interestingly, I got only 300g from a pastry recipe that supposedly makes around 400g. Can't think how that happened) so I have 100g left over to make something else. You start by splitting off 1/4 of your 200g pastry and setting it aside. The other 3/4 is for the base of the tart.

I was quite pleased with my pastry in that it handled exactly like the bought stuff (Yes, I know I said homemade is better, but when it comes to pastry, I'll need a bit more practice before that's true). The only difference was in the texture - It seemed a little gritty from the sugar. I think I might try caster sugar next time.

You don't need a pie plate or flan ring to make this tart - just roll it into a rectangle 25x15cm and put it on a baking tray. Then spread jam on it, leaving a gap at the edge. Then you roll the edges up, and make the remaining 1/4 of the pastry into strips to place on top. Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar, and put into the oven.

15 minutes later, you have a yummy jam tart. The pastry was slightly crunchier than the bought stuff I'm used to using, but still pretty good! The tart's best hot from the oven - with icecream - but of course I wasn't about to eat the whole thing in one sitting. It's not a large tart, but you'd still get four reasonable servings from it. I've actually cut mine into smaller pieces to put in my lunchbox this week.

The whole thing was really exceptionally easy. If you used bought pastry and jam, you could have it on the table in 30 minutes - that includes the cooking time. Make your own pastry and it'd still be less than an hour. Make your own jam, and.. well, it takes considerably longer. Trust me on this one. While I do reccommend you try jam making, it's probably not best to make it specially for the tart!

This is not an everyday dish though - it's a complete sugarfest really. Sugar in the jam; sugar in the pastry; sugar on top...then add some icecream! I'd hate to think of the calorie count! But that doesn't mean you shouldn't treat yourself occasionally.


  1. looks rather mouthwatering robs

  2. Where do you get your time from?!

  3. Single woman, no kids = time


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