Goals have been on my mind this past week. Goals, and of course cake. But mostly goals. I’ve been working on a paper for my class and it was on short and long-term goals as an educator. I was majorly distracted and a little frustrated. I began to wonder if I maybe have adult ADHD.To deal with my frustration, I baked. And baked some more. Eventually, I finished my paper. In a haphazard manner, it was complete and I felt incomplete. I was left wondering: do I really want to teach?
The other day I woke up to see I was number 1 on the top 9 on Foodbuzz on Wednesday for my Upside Down Banana Dulce de Leche Cake. I took a shot of the screen when I saw it. Dorky? A little. But hey, I was excited.
That was a pleasant and wonderful surpise!(Thanks to all the foodbuzz peeps that buzzed my recipe!) A family member told me it was great, but also posed an important question, “How are you going to make money with this?”
A profound question. After some careful thought and lengthy consideration, I present to you some ways I could make money with this:
1) I could write a best-selling baking book. It would outsell Ree from The Pioneer Woman and possibly even Paula Deen.2) I could open the hottest and trendiest bakery in South Florida. People would stand in line for hours like they do for the Cake Boss to sample one of my galettes or cakes. Ensuing bakeries would open all over Italy.
3) The Food Network would discover my talent by some glorious miracle. I would be as popular, or more popular, than Giada de Laurentiis (God, she has the cutest smile!). My cooking line would be in every Target on this continent. I would be a star. A rich star.
4) I could run a famous cooking school in an old castle in Italy. Any part of Italy will do fine. Laura from Ciao Laura will book the tours to visit my incredibly informative and witty classes. We will both be reveling in this sweet success.
“Lora, wake up! Wake up!!” OMG! This is so embarassing. I just fell asleep and had the most amazing dream that I was a rich and famous food blogger/cookbook writer/FoodTV star/bakery owner. More famous than Ree Drummond, Paula Deen, and Giada! I was getting ready for my book signing and picking out what shoes to wear. Yes, I am a geek.
Back to humble me. My reality is I am still just blogging on my little blog for you, my dear readers. And for now, it’s all I want to do. I leave you with a Pear Tarte Tatin recipe to enjoy. If read this, you like it, and even attempt to make it, that will bring me abundant joy and immeasurable satisfaction. This is why I do this.
Let’s talk about the Pear Tarte Tatin. I love to make crusts. This crust recipe is simple and to me, crust perfection. It still was flakey and with the perfect firmness the next day. My husband said he hadn’t had a Tarte Tatin like this since he was working in this castle in Italy and there was a French Pastry Chef that used to make them. Now that was a compliment. The pears have to be Bosc. They were made to be the co-star of a tarte tatin. They hold their shape. Don’t use them over ripe. Mushy pears are not easy to peel and clean and will fall apart while making the caramel. A little ugly, but could still taste good.
This could happen:
*When you flip your tarte, the fruit may slide around. That is no problem. Reassemble them. No one will know!
*When you make the caramel, it is ready when it turns amber color. I made this a few times recently. On a recent time, I had to take care of a kid emergency (put Dora on TV!). There were some hard pieces of caramel. It gave me an idea. Keep those delicious toffee pieces and save for when the tarte is done. Smash them up and sprinkle on top. Ingenious and very delicious!
For the pastry
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 tablespoon lard (or shortening)
3 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling
2 lbs firm pears, peeled, cored and halved lengthwise (I used Bosc)
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and the lard (or shortening), and pulse until there are coarse crumbs. Add the water to the dough mixture a tablespoon at a time until when you pinch the dough, it sticks together. Take the dough out of the processor and form into a disc. Leave in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
When you are ready to roll out, roll it out to about a 1/8-1/4 thickness and it should be about 11 inches in diameter for a 10 inch skillet. I like to roll the dough out either between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Preheat the oven to 415 F.
Cut the pears in half. Core the pears and take off the stems. Add to the bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice. Let it sit aside for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 9″ ovenproof skillet. I used my ancient cast-iron one. Add the 1 cup of remaining sugar and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat. It will turn golden brown and start to caramelize. As soon as it changes color, remove from the heat. Drain the pairs and arrange the pears over the caramel mixture. Cut side down and the stem end should go towards the center. Sprinkle the cinnamon and ginger over the pears.
Return the pan to the stove top and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Make sure you keep the temperature at medium high, letting the sugar boil and caramelize. The high heat will help the sugar caramelize and the pears to cook a little. Now when I made this the other day, I got some crunchy pieces of caramel. I took those off and saved those to add to the top after when it was ready. Toffee crumbles topping! It is all good! You really can’t mess this up. Gently toss the pears around so they get nicely coated. Stir You want it to reduce until the you have a thick buttery caramel sauce. This syrup will be very hot, so don’t be tempted to touch it for a taste
Now it is time to lay the pastry over the top. Quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down right into the edges. I used a thin knife to tuck in the edges. Cut four 1/4 ” steam holes in the center. Bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. You could bake over a cookie sheet in case you don’t want to mess up your oven with caramel drippings. I didn’t have any thing overflow from my skillet the last few times I made it. It’s up to you:)
Run a knife along the edges of the cast iron to make sure that none of the puff pastry edges are sticking to the pan. Next, place a large plate or serving platter on top of the cast iron and, using two giant pot holders, invert quickly and carefully because the skillet weighs a ton and is burning hot. You will feel the skillet become lighter and know that it has inverted correctly. Life the cast iron and don’t worry if any of the pears moved around or if some stuck to the pan. You could carefully remove them if they stuck to pan and reassemble. If they moved when you flipped the skillet, just simply place them the way they were before in the tarte. One time when I made the caramel, it was too liquidy. That could happen. If you feel there is too much liquid when you are making your caramel, you could pour some of it carefully into the sink before you add the skillet to the oven. Serve warm. It is even amazing at room temperature. Enjoy your beautiful tarte tatin.
Here is the dough ready to put in fridge.
Here are the pears caramelizing with some ginger and cinnamon sprinkled on them. I’m telling you, this smells crazy good!
When they are ready, this is how the dough should look on top. I added the four scores with a think knife right in middle (forgot to take a photo of it!).
Here is that toffee thing I told you about! I used a meat tenderizer and smashed them up. Toffee will fly every where. It is really good. Save some for the tarte.
Sprinkle some on the tarte. If your caramel doesn’t form any crunchy pieces, you could use toffee bars if you like. This only happened once in the last few times I’ve made this. I may use the toffee bar idea next time. Those are really good too!!
This tarte is just gorgeous. It reminds me of a cool, crisp day in France or Italy. Or even North Carolina. A cup of caffe’ latte. Steaming hot. Maybe a dollop of creme fraiche on top.
Random photo from other day of my lil’ guy telling me he could put the yogurt on the flat bread by himself because, “I’m a chef mommy.” He was so proud when he said it too.
And in case you want to see what I look like and my profile picture is a little boring. Here is me with a cake on my past birthday. As Mariskaneni (my Hungarian great-aunt would say for a pose), “This is how I look.” Not ever, “How do I look?” Lol!