This past August was a bit touch and go for me. Although I had planned on writing about several subjects, a certain event in my life prevented me from even getting to them. I did manage to start off with The Monthly Cookie, but soon after that, I had to stop writing. At the time I felt as if I had had the wind knocked out of me as a result of a setback. I was stunned, speechless, devastated, & utterly miserable. The blog quickly took the back burner for me, because there were so many uncertainties. After those two weeks and fully understanding what exactly our family would have to go through, I finally felt comfortable enough to continue writing and publishing good photography. I hope you can understand that I needed this short absence.
These were those chocolate pretzels that I made at the beginning of August. They were very good. I think I preferred their flavor the next day more than fresh out of the oven. If you haven't given them a try, click here for the recipe and start baking a batch. These are good for all those kids going back to school, because they don't contain a lot of sugar.
I also showed you how easy it was to blind bake a tart crust. Just follow my steps carefully and you'll see that it's a piece of cake (or pie!).
I was happy to share with you a cornmeal pâte sucrée that was a big hit at my house. Its crunchy, sweet quality was the perfect thing for the tart I later baked.
I'm always emphasizing that your ingredients need to be icy cold when making pastry. If you look closely, you'll notice that my bowl containing the flour, salt, sugar & cornmeal, along with my water measuring cup are both frosted from being in the freezer!
Again, it's important to cut up your butter into cubes before making any type of pastry. This will help disperse the bits evenly and make your crust tender & flaky. This butter was straight out of the freezer.
After dividing, you may be discouraged to find a sandy mixture, but never fear. I gather everything with my plastic wrap & press it down with my knuckles. This brings the pastry together quickly & easily.
The delicious pastry cream that I made this month is the stuff of dreams. I can still taste it. Click on the picture above to get a closer look at the flecks of vanilla bean seeds. You can, of course, use the best vanilla extract if you don't have vanilla beans handy. I would recommend 2 teaspoons for the recipe. I hope you try making some soon.
Now onto that delicious Deluxe Raspberry Tart that my family loved. After making this and even considering it for my birthday "cake" in July, I quickly realized that I would develop separate entries for pastry cream, blind baking & for that pâte sucrée.
I can still remember the day I picked my raspberries. I had to make two trips, because at some point, it began to rain copiously and I had to run back home to take cover; it was very hot & quite humid too. I went out again and ended up at the top of the field after a break in the weather. The only real mishaps were cuts & scrapes and one spider bite on my hand. Other than that, I enjoyed every minute of it.
This was the basket I used. I didn't want to drop my berries onto the wicker, so I lined the inside of the basket with a large, oversized kitchen towel. Not one berry got crushed.
This is part of the long driveway where the raspberries flourish. The brambles come out in the spring and begin bearing fruit toward the end of June & early July.
Here's another picture of the berries waiting to be picked. I quickly realized that some were not going to come off so easily. The ones that were overly ripe just disintegrated into my fingers.
A closeup of the jewel-like berries. So delicious!
I was considering using this picture. It offers a very nice view of the rich custard & raspberries.
This picture was all wrong. I took several that were from this angle, but didn't even think about using them for my story. The berry at the tip of the tart wedge made it look like Rudolph the red nose reindeer. Not a good thing.
I hope you enjoyed the blog entries. One thing I have learned this past month is that I have to be optimistic about the future. I just want to thank the people that sent me a kind word or two during my hardship. At the time it meant everything to me. Here's to more Good Things!