Monday, 5 January 2015

Frozen Pecan Tart

 
 

I really need to write about the process a whole lot closer to the actual event.  Sigh.  I do sometimes worry that should I be randomly chosen to partake in a dementia test, I would most probably find myself leaving the doctors office with a prescription in hand.  The good news is that I love learning new things.  I love change.  A fortunate attribute, ahem.  So, on to this Frozen Pecan Tart.  Up until this bake, I don't recall eating a pecan tart, let alone baking one.  Let's just say that I don't think this will be the last of either event.  It was pretty simple to pull together and I only missed one thing this week - vanilla essence from the filling!  And I learned a new method for pastry - capital A-Amazing  people.  I was actually giggling with excitement at the wonder of Rose.  Life changing stuff (and I truly mean that).
 
So we make a Pate Sucree (other wise known as a sweet cookie tart crust).  No photos of this - essentially just picture a food processor with a lump of dough in it.  The difference between Pate Sucree and flaky pastry is that the former has the express objective of having no visible butter lumps in it, and the flaky pastry is littered with them.  In the former, these butter lumps result in holes, in the latter they result in layers. 
 
Rose instructs that you should refrigerate the dough for an hour before rolling it out.  As luck would have it, I happened along a post from Dorie Greenspan about not chilling the dough before rolling it out.  Hallelujah.  More life changing stuff.   I figured that given I don't live anywhere even approaching tropical heat, I would trial this on the Frozen Pecan Tart.  Usually I do everything exactly as Rose instructs (apart from the bits I stuff up) the first run through of the recipe, but somehow the thought of chilling the dough and then waiting half an hour for it to come back to a rollable temperature seemed at odds with just rolling it right then and there.  Rose's tip is that half an hour in the fridge will be fine to then roll.  More than half an hour and you could be looking at upwards of 40 minutes to get something rollable.  And given baking is something that fits in around life, any chance to cheat time is a winner.
 
I did wonder how not letting it rest would affect the final product.  Someone with more time and patience and better attention to detail must have tested that somewhere on the internet?
 
 
So I rolled the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap/glad wrap/cling film (it does amaze me that there are so many names for this stuff).  It was fantastic to roll.  Especially with the Pastry Wands - not in the photo shot, but can I just repeat how amazing they are.

 

When I read this method as part of the Beta Bakers, I just scratched my head and thought, Rose has completely lost the plot - that is far too difficult.  But you know what?  Completely not hard.  Easiest method ever for getting pastry into the tart tin.  So the idea is that you take your rolled plastic encased pastry sheet (I think Rose cuts it to shape, but I didn't have the right size template to do so) and smooth it over the base of an 8 inch cake pan.  I think mine was 9 inch, but no bother because fortunately my tart tin was bigger than that.  Smooth down the sides, take the top sheet of plastic off and then put the tart tin on top like a hat.
Flip and fold down the sides to neaten the edges, and all praise Rose, you have a perfect pastry shell.
At this point I let it rest for about an hour in the freezer before blind baking it.  There was barely any shrinkage after baking, so I think this total process will be my new pastry method.
Rose instructs to put the untoasted (first time for everything - usually all nuts are toasted before use) into the pastry tin.  In  neat rows or just however you like - but importantly brain side up and only perfect ones - this is not an equal opportunity tart.
Then on to making the filling.  If I thought that Rose had shares in plastic wrap, then she definitely does have shares in Tate and Lyle.  I am not complaining at all.  Given I live in the land of golden syrup this is a breeze to source compared to corn syrup.  And in my biased opinion a lot tastier.

The liquid filling is kind of a golden syrup custard and once it gets to 71 degrees Celsius it gets sieved before pouring into the tart.

I think it was actually worthwhile sieving because there were some sugar lumps and that stringy white bit that stubbornly clings to the egg yolk.
I do wish that I had poured the filling over the nuts, rather than around them.  I think I could have done with each nut being blessed by that golden syrup custard.

Rose then instructs to bake until it shimmies slightly.  Giggle.  Or 15 to 20 minutes.  Or 88 - 93 degrees Celsius.  I went with all three.

The tart is then cooled and topped with chocolate ganache drizzle topping (I didn't do that - but will next time).  Then, frozen before serving.  Which we did.  We sliced into this on December 30th.  Right before we decided to have an impromptu dinner on New Years Eve with friends.  Which meant I had to make another dessert for New Years Eve!  This tart was sampled by quite a few people, including the NYE guests.  Feedback was good from all - there was some serious eye rolling and groaning going on.  My personal preference was for the room temperature version (after being frozen).  I preferred the heightened taste of the warmer tart and after a few days frozen and then defrosted, the filling was firmer. 

One other question I had for those that have baked a lot of pecan tarts, is about the toasting of the nuts prior to baking.  I kind of found myself missing that toasted flavour... but only for about a second.  There was enough going on here to keep me more than happy.

Funnily enough, Chris and I went to dinner a few nights later and Pecan Tart was on the dessert menu... Chris declined - he thought the risk was too high that it wouldn't be as amazing as Rose's Frozen Pecan Tart.  Dessert was passed over completely.

As a side note, the NYE bonus dessert was another pastry tart - a pate sucree base with frangipane and poached spice pears.  I have made this for the past 3 out of 4 NYE, and this was the best.  I did the pastry with Rose & Dorie's combined brilliance and then I toasted the blanched unsliced almonds before grinding them for the frangipane.  I love that five bakes into The Baking Bible, it is already transforming, for the better, my old favourites. 

The next bake is Chocolate Cuddle Cake.  The post for that is definitely late.  I am in Australia for a wedding which precludes baking.  Chris has volunteered to bake and blog - so far, he has made the ganache.  Apparently Rose instructs that this should be made first.  And so it was.  On Sunday.  Now Tuesday, Chris is awaiting the arrival of a flower nail to complete the baking...

8 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. hello Nicola, glad to see you're frozen pecan tart posted finally it looks wonderful and your pictures are nice to you did a very good job.

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  3. It's better late than never...i didn't bake mine for fear that it would be too sweet. I enjoyed reading your posts esp. the part where you 'cheated'..lol! Next time I will try your method too..I also don't like waiting around for the pastry to harden up..but in my case, because of the tropical weather, i have no choice. Your tart looks so delicious and tempting..makes me want to make it after reading your review..

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  4. That is one great looking tart! Have a safe trip back. Can't wait to see Chris' Cuddle Cake!

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  5. I just wanted to say that I love reading your posts. Your writing is so entertaining, and I can picture everything as you describe it.

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  6. How gorgeous is that!! The design of the pecans so perfect! I know it tasted that way!

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  7. ב''ה

    Blast the darn waiting to roll thing. There is no time for that. I actually did toast the pecans and was glad I did. Your baking skills were flying! Looking forward to the guest post.

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  8. I read Dorie's post about not chilling the pastry but I couldn't believe it--but now I do! I love shortcuts, too. Your tart looks wonderful, and will there be any photos of the NYE frangiapane-poached pear tart? I once made the components and poached the pears but never made the crust. Can't wait to see your husband's cuddle cake!

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