I am not precise enough to be a pastry chef.
Our extremely good family friends returned from Thailand today. I probably treat them more as an extra set of grandparents than family friends, and therefore, as they have been waiting for their house to be renovated after severe flooding, we have had the genuine pleasure of having them stay in our home. I have always been the kind of person who makes myself at home wherever I am. Rather than stand back and wait for my hosts to hand everything to me on a platter, I have been known to rummage through cupboards looking for tea bags and cups. It is probably why I love AirBNB so much. As a result of my travelling home-making (for lack of a better descriptor), I really love and try to encourage people who come in to our house to effortlessly blend into our home and our lives. Our home is their home. Although not everybody is like that, these family friends in particular are such a beautiful, easy presence in our home that I actually miss them whenever they go.
Having a free afternoon for me is always such a blessing that I try to use in the best way possible. Like choosing what to have at a restaurant with an incredible menu, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the amazing things that I can do with my time. Having already prepared pulled pork in the slow cooker this morning, dinner was already mostly ready to go. So I decided to make a dessert. Not wanting to leave the house, I was set with the challenge of thinking of something to make that a) we had the ingredients for and b) our friend’s love. Whilst the husband doesn’t eat refined sugar (man after my own heart), the wife sure does. She is what I would call a closet healthy eater. In private, she is very big on good nutrition, picked up from her nursing days. But in public? Fish and Chips come at her.
Growing up she often used to buy neenish tarts from Woolworths for morning teas and special occasions. I have no idea why I even thought of it today, but after googling the recipe, I realised that I actually had everything that I needed.
So back to my pastry chef experience. Any kind of pastry that requires multiple layers is probably not a fabulous idea when I am involved. Unfortunately I am a bit of a contradiction. I would definitely call myself a big picture person, meaning that my attention to detail is not always up to my innate perfectionist standards. Thankfully, however, it has meant that I now focus more on being ok with things not being perfect rather than trying to meet said standards. I’m also very clean and neat, but somehow in the kitchen always tend to create chaos.
Let’s just say that I made quite a mess of the kitchen and myself today (which is an understatement). Add that to it being possibly the warmest day of Winter (wearing boots today – big mistake), and you have a recipe for crumbling pastry and general icing stickiness. Given the process though, I am actually pretty proud of the result. Sure, it’s not quite Masterchef plating standards, but they have a rustic feel to them which makes me quite nostalgic.
Thank goodness the rustic thing is so in right now.
- 60g butter (chilled)
- 2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 1/2 cup self raising flour
- 1 egg
- 70g butter, softened
- 1/3 cup icing sugar mixture
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
- 2 tbsp warm water
- 1 drop pink food colouring
- 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa or cacao (because I'm healthy and that's all I had)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Place butter, sugar and flour in food processor and process with dough blade until a fine crumb is produced. Add egg and process until mixture comes together. Turn out onto lightly floured bench and knead lightly until mixture is smooth.
- Roll out thinly and cut into a circle. Press rounds carefully into greased cupcake pans and prick. Bake in a moderate oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Once pastry shells are cool, place filling ingredients into bowl and beat until well combined and smooth. Fill pastry shells with a thin layer of jam and then the filling until just below the lip of the pastry and place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set slightly.
- Prepare icing using icing sugar and warm water. Divide the mixture into 2 bowls. Into one bowl add pink food colouring and the cocoa into the other. Ice half of each tart with pink icing and return to fridge until icing is set. Ice remaining half of each tart with chocolate icing and return to fridge until icing is set.