I am fairly certain I skipped a week.
The last time I baked was last last Sunday, so yeah, I’ve skipped a week.
But to justify myself, I did bake four things on that Sunday: cheat’s sourdough, two pumpkin pies and a chocolate trifle, so I don’t feel overly bad for taking a break.
Tonight’s choice, though, was a tough one. Do I go super easy? Do I do another biscuit/traybake? Another bread? Or do I step into the scary world of sweet pastry and patisserie?
The answer is probably obvious (because you most likely read the title of this post), but I did decide to step into that scary world of pastry. I found a two-spoon chocolate fudge tart recipe with all ingredients I had. I just had to pick up a loose-bottomed flan tin (thankfully I knew what that was from copious amounts of GBBO-bingewatching) and baking beads (ditto).
So off to HomeSense I went, even though I was just there a couple days ago because I have a HomeSense problem, and I found one jar of baking beads randomly left on a shelf and a loose-bottomed flan tin on sale in the clearance section.
It’s like it was mean to be.
It’s almost 7 o’clock now, so I think I need to start on this before I begin to regret everything.
I was going to be loosey-goosey with the butter measurements when the chunk I put on the scale was two grams shy of what the recipe wanted, but then I remembered that pastry is not my strength, so I decided to be more accurate. I “settled” with one gram over. I’ll learn my lesson if this was a huge mistake.
What size do you normally dice you butter when it requires chilled, diced butter?
There should be recipe instructions for perfectionists. “Cut your diced butter 1 1/2 cm by 1 1/2 cm and chill at 3 degrees for 23 minutes.”
Although if I did face a recipe that specific, it would definitely make me panic more. So maybe it’s a good thing recipes don’t cave to the whims of crazy people such as myself.
And now it’s time for the flour. Again, I could be casual with my measurements, but I definitely don’t want to be. So I’ll be specific. So specific that I have to take out gram by gram to get the right amount. After I accidentally dumped in twice the amount because I had to dump from the large bag of flour instead of my cute jar of flour since the cute jar of flour ran out.
Much cuter than my bag of generic grocery store brand all-purpose flour (that I really hope is the equivalent to British “plain” flour).
The next step is to measure out the walnuts. I was going to get a different bowl but that seemed silly, so I dumped the walnuts into the flour, and of course dumped too much. So I had to choose to either be 5 grams over or to have some flour-covered walnuts in my walnut jar the next time I have a hankering for a protein-rich snack.
Five grams over it is!
Now, time for the star of today’s show. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dogs and cats, I got a food processor!
Isn’t it beautiful?
Every time I use it, I get why people get all excited about their food processors. Especially because pre-food processor, I was crumbling butter into flour by hand or with a pastry cutter which, I admit, is almost as therapeutic as kneading by hand, but not nearly as exciting. Or as quick!
It feels like seconds have passed and magically I have dough as the recipe says I should.
It’s hard to see in the photo, but just trust me that it’s what it says it should be: a ball of dough with the exactly amount of icy cold water required. No more, no less.
And now it chills for twenty minutes.
This is feeling too easy for a two-spoon recipe guys. I guess I still have time to mess up the rolling out. And the blind bake. I also just realized something. The only kitchen counter space I have for rolling is right above the dishwasher that’s now on, and that’s definitely going to mess with the integrity of the chilled pie crust. I may have to attempt to use my buffet counter that’s not really a counter and is more of a dropping ground for mail and discarded items from my purse.
Has it been twenty minutes yet? Nope. It’s been ten. I should probably use this time to read ahead.
Ohh you guys. I’m in trouble. I see where the two-spoon comes in.
I’m going to have to read this like fifty times. This is like trying to do arts and crafts from manuals. Horrible. Flashbacks to childhood confusion over braided bracelets and crochet! (Yes, as a matter of fact, I was a super cool child. Can’t you tell?)
The buffet “counter” won’t work. I’ll have to shove into a corner of my kitchen, away from the dishwasher vent, to make this work.
Okay, people. Wish me luck.
Needless to say, that did not work out at all. Put this thing together like a puzzle piece. I have no idea how it will turn out, but I fear the worst: raw dough.
I can hear Paul Hollywood saying it: “That’s raw.”
And then poking it angrily with his fork.
I’ll overbake it. Overbaked is better than underbaked, right? Ugh and it’s a blind bake. This may be a massive disaster, people.
Maybe the dough wasn’t chilled enough. I put it in the freezer this time instead of the fridge, hoping that will somehow help. The dough did not feel chilled.
It better chill this time. Except now I forget when I put it in the freezer to chill.
I’m reading ahead again and apparently I’m to crumple up parchment and put that on the pastry and then put the beads on top of that. The infamous beads!
Man I hope this works.
Is this what it’s supposed to look like? Man I hope so.
Now we wait. And by we, I mean me. You are not helping at all, if I’m being completely honest.
I guess this is why it’s called a blind bake.
Gasp! I forgot a bead!
Oh so here’s the other way I could screw this up. The recipe calls for half light muscavado sugar and half dark muscavado sugar and I’m using all brown sugar. Is that the same? I hope so. If it’s not, I’ve already probably ruined the pastry, so I may as well ruin the filling too.
And I’m sorry but I cannot in good conscience put all 300 grams of sugar into this recipe. Do you know how much sugar that is? It’s a disgusting amount.
I did use a clever trick thanks to my Scottish friend’s Scottish Mom. Her being Scottish has nothing to do with the trick but it does lend an legitimacy to this attempt at a Great British bake. The trick? If you need room temperature eggs but you only have cold eggs, run the eggs under warm water. Done and done.
I’m trying to distract myself with prep but I ran out of bowls. Also I think I forgot a good bowl at my mom’s house. *dramatic sigh*
I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but I’m doing two extra minutes on the blind bake. Blind bakes are stressful!
I say “after after” because it’s not only after I removed the beads but also after I pushed down with a fork all of the areas of pastry that bubbled up.
And now we bake again.
So stupidly stressful.
I would not do well on the show. I mean sure, this is an initial foray into pastry and I should give myself a break, but on the flip side, I really suck at this.
I’m supposed to bake it until it’s fully cooked, crisp and golden brown. Let’s see.
My fear of raw dough is too great. I’ll wait a little more.
The edges look done. Parts of the bottom seem done. But this whole patchwork bottom has its flaws, one of which is I probably patched it way too thick and now it’s going to be raw dough!
Okay I’ll stop saying “raw dough.” It’s pretty gross, really.
I think it’s done.
Now time to set that aside and out of mind as I make the filling.
“Whip eggs until frothy.” Okay, Paul and Mary. That I can do.
“Add vanilla and sugars.” Well I’ve only got one kind of sugar, but sure, guys, I can do that too.
“Whip until a mousse-like texture.” That I can try to do. I mean I’m pretty sure mousse is thicker than what I ended up with, but if it’s mousse-like, it doesn’t have to be mousse-thick, just mousse-like-thick. As opposed to moose-like-thick, which is kind of scary in real life (especially when they eat your aunt’s flowers as you watch from the window). Or Moose-like thick, in which case it’s kind of jock-beefy like Archie Comics’ Moose.
That was his name, right?
Sorry, I digress.
Time to add the cocoa and flour.
Now it’s time to fold, slowly, to ensure there are no streaks.
Ah, folding. How calming you are. Folding laundry? Not so much. That’s a chore. Folding fudge tart filling, oh me oh my, how wonderful you are.
All the stress of the previous two hours is out the window as I fold.
I love you, chocolate.
Time to add the roasted walnut pieces.
And now time to fold again.
I may fall asleep folding. It’s so relaxing. Instead of counting sheep, I suggest you count disappearing streaks as you fold fudge tart filling. And if you have no idea what that’s like, I suggest you buy a pre-made crust and make the filling yourself. Save yourself the stress of pastry.
I was worried that since I probably put too much pastry into the flan tin, I may end up with too much filling, but it fits perfectly and looks so delicious.
It looks like a massive chocolate bar. That’s all I can think to describe it, which does it a disservice because compared to homemade baking, chocolate bars are overly sweet and waxy. (That’s not tooting my own horn. That’s just a fact of life.) But the walnut pieces and the fudgy texture are just so perfect-looking.
In half an hour (or more) I’ll be able to tell if it’s perfect-tasting too.
(I’m not getting my hopes up, though. That pastry crust is doomed.)
So you know when you sit down and start watching an episode of Friends and you set your timer for 20 minutes even though it’s a 30-minute bake and your timer goes off but you tell yourself you’ve got another five minutes and then time passes and you totally forget about your bake?
That may have happened.
And I may have run to the kitchen to check on it.
And it may be okay.