Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pies vs. Tarts...

The list of things I need to do to start a baking business is quite long.  Including legal matters, finding clients, and (now-a-days) having a place in the social media world.  Now, this is only naming a few things of course.  But, in order to be successful [besides having courage, discipline, and the like] is having a kick-ass product.  A couple of posts back I mentioned that I would focus my baking attention to perfecting pies.  I started thinking of some classic pie recipes that I could practice making and after doing some research I found a few tart recipes that sounded very tasty, too.  Well, what really is the difference between a pie and a tart.  They both have a crust and a filling right?

In my opinion, with pies and especially tarts, the crust must be a 10 out of 10.  Sure the filling of said pies must be delicious, too; but, to have an unforgettable, leave you wanting more crust is my first priority.  The component that is most important to me at this point is not the fillings; but, the pastry used to create an unforgettable crust.  I can still remember the peach pie I tasted years ago with the buttery, flaky, delicious crust.  Because really, when it comes down to it, you really don't have a business with out having a need and I know there are folks out there who need a good pie (or tart) from time to time.  I just thought of another post idea and area to explore... When is a good time for pie?  No - this can be answered with one word, Anytime.

Nutella Pudding Tart
Back to my original question...  What is the difference between a pie and a tart?  The article I found on refers to pies and tarts as cousins.  Some of the significant differences are that pies are typically served "from the dish in which they were baked" and a tart is "unmolded before serving."  Which makes sense when you think about the next difference which is the texture and thickness of the crust.  Since the tart is served without a mold; it needs to hold up on its own more than a pie would need to keep its shape.  Jenni Fields talks about the pastry differences here, noting that, traditionally, pies have a flaky crust and tarts, traditionally, have a crumbly crust.  I mention the word traditionally because this is not a steadfast rule.  Other differences in the pie crust vs. the tart crust is the number of crusts.  A tart only has a bottom crust where as a pie can have a single or double crust, a lattice crust, or a crumble topping.  The blog post here spells out the differences between the two pretty thoroughly.  The last major difference that I'd like to point out is the filling/crust ratio.  A pie tends to have a thinner crust that is far less in proportion to the filling.  On the other hand, a tart has a thicker and higher crust to filling ratio.

It certainly peaked my interest when I came across a recipe from Martha Stewart for Pate Sucree; because this pastry could be used for pies or tarts.  And, since I am mostly interested in the crust, as mentioned before, I thought this recipe would be perfect to try out.  I also decided I wanted to do a simple tart with ingredients I already had in the house.  I made two types of tarts today so I could compare the taste, crumble, and firmness of each.  I made a tart with a traditionally rolled out pastry using the Pate Sucree recipe
The Pate Sucree came out beautiful.  I actually had no problems rolling my dough this time!

and another with an Almond crumble crust that is pressed into the forms.  The almond crust expanded a little more than I anticipated; which wasn't such a bad thing, I just would have put a little less crumble in each tart.
I didn't spend too much time trying to make most of tge edges look very pretty.  I actually kind of like the rustic look of them when they came out of the oven golden brown.
I decided to make fig & poppy seed, strawberry & sesame seed, apricot & coconut, and blueberry & almond.

I couldn't decide which one to try first.  The smell was amazing.

I was worried to fill the cups too much; but, the overflow was not too bad.

Again, I was trying to use ingredients I had already in the house and I thought the strawberries would pair well with the Nutella and chocolate.  And they did!
Martha, as usual, did not let me down.  The crust was flaky, yet sturdy enough to hold up on its own.  I will certainly be using this dough in the future!  The only thing I would do differently with this tart is to make the Nutella filling more prominent in flavor.  To me, it tasted more like chocolate, not Nutella (which wasn't a terrible thing of course).

Flaky crust.

There are a few more tart crust recipes I will be experimenting with, like shortbread and puff pastry.  Then, on to the basic pie crust.

I'll keep you posted...


Thursday, May 5, 2016

What am I doing wrong this time?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had success the first time attempting something, only to find that the second attempt was somehow not as easy as the first.
Well, honestly, I have baked many pies in the past that have turned out awesome.  I'll have to confess there was a period of time when I cheated and bought frozen pie crust from the grocery store.  As with most people it made for a quick easy task of baking a "home-made" pie.  I then tasted a friend of mine's mother's peach pie and was in awe of the crust!
Since then, I've always attempted to make my crust from scratch.  Like I said, my pies have come out good for the most part.  Then, my husband introduced me to an Amish recipe last summer that was totally different from any recipe that I've seen before, calling for vegetable oil and milk.  It was the best pie crust I've ever made!

Since I've decided to go with Pies as my signature baked item; I've also decided to do as much research and study on pies and pastry I can so, I can create the best pie my family, friends, and potential clients have ever tasted.

In my last post I talked about my successful first attempt at baking mini pies.  The two biggest take-a-ways from my first mini pie attempt was; one, the pies need a nice finished look, like with a sprinkling of sugar crystals.  And two, the filling could have been a tad less tart and a little sweeter.

Well, my second attempt at mini pies did not pan out quite as I hoped.  My dough kept sticking!!

All of these thoughts are racing through my mind as I just want to get this done (after all I only have so much time in between feedings for my little new born).

  1. "Duh, Why am I not using the silicone matte?" - Dough continues to stick to rolling pin
  2. "Wax paper!"
  3.  "I should just give up, Adler will love playing with this dough."
  4.  "No, I'm not giving up, iIve done this countless times before."
  5.  "Maybe it's too hot in here, I am starting to sweat."
  6. "Double wax paper (which I've never had to do before)"

After over an hour of rolling and re-rolling, and freezing and refrigerating, and breaking into a sweat.  I realized that if I lift the dough after every other stroke or so, and turn it clockwise a little each time the dough wouldn't stick to the wax paper.  Finally, I was able to get the dough large enough that I decided to just go for one large pie.  The pie was completed and tasted good.  However, of course the crust was not the consistency that I wanted.  On the other hand, I used a little less lemon and did a combination of white and brown sugar that created a tasty, not too sweet, not too tart apple filling.  Next, is to perfect the crust; I want a flaky, melt in your mouth kind.

I did decide to do a little research in ways of rolling out dough and how to prevent sticking; so, in the future I don't break into a sweat again.  Also, I felt like using wax paper was somehow cheating.

A few tips I've encountered were:

- Chill dough (I already knew that)
- Chill counter top (using ice-packs)
- Use powered sugar or cornstarch instead of flour to dust work surface

Here are a couple of really helpful articles...

Let them eat pie...
How to roll..

My next post I will discuss the different kinds of pastry; I think I might actually hold a taste test to compare all butter vs. butter and shortening vs. butter and lard, etc.

Till then...