during our soiree into honeycomb Wida reminded me that Sunday (17th May) was world baking day. so i woke up that sunday morning and made some shortcrust pastry. i had decided to go with a south african favourite…milk tart.
i’ve been having a bit of a debate with myself the last few days. as a matter of principle i don’t post other peoples recipes on my blog. i will reference them and you can google accordingly. so then i started thinking about making my own recipes. i’ve been going back and forth on this for a while. experimenting means possible wastage. i hate wastage! then this happened to me…
so back to the pastry. i usually use the yuppiechef recipe (spatula club) but that only just fits my 25cm tart tin (take note that i have the most atrocious luck with tin sizes. i’ll go buy something that’s 25cm and then every recipe i see will ask for 23cm. this has happened so many times it’s a wonder i haven’t lost my mind completely). so i decided to play. i’ve seen recipes that use a whole egg, just the yolk, no egg at all. so i figured i could tweak a bit (note: i don’t think the whole egg works. i think it takes away from the shortness that you are aiming for with shortcrust pastry) i kept the roughly 1:2 butter to flour ratio in the yuppiechef recipe but increased quantities slightly.
i cut the cold butter up. i put it back in the fridge while i measured out the flour and icing sugar. i ran the pastry blender through the flour/sugar mixture before adding the butter. the pastry blender takes more elbow grease so if you have a food processor use that instead. i use a butter knife to keep the blades clear of big globs of butter. as you go the globs become smaller. once i’m convinced that i’ve cut the butter in enough i add the egg yolk and mix with the butter knife. the dough isn’t really coming together at this point so i add two tablespoons of water and start working it through with my hands to get it to come together. handle the dough as little as possible. once i have a ball i wrap it in cling film (twice) and put it in the fridge to rest.
and that dear friends is the point at which my world baking day baking plans came undone. a combination of load shedding followed by a lazy beery lunch and thoughts of milk tart flittered into oblivion. alas, woe is me.
the cool thing though is that you can leave shortcrust pastry in the fridge for a few days. if anything it only improves the dough. only downside is rolling out that dough is nigh on impossible without a 4-pound hammer and a sound-proof room.
so its tuesday afternoon. we are being fetched in an hour and half to attend a quiz night in stellenbosch and that pastry is now burning a hole in my fridge. the hummingbird recipe that i wanted to use is a no-bake filling but i’m not happy about not baking whipped egg whites (yes folding them into the hot custard will cook them but i have an egg thing that i’ll tell you about one day. also i recall my mum always baking the filling). i spent some time on monday looking at recipes but nothing really grabbed me so come tuesday i’m in the mood to throw caution to the wind and delve into the realm of so-what-if-i-don’t-have-a-recipe.
let me just say that i got my timing all off on this one. i handed the rock-hard pastry to my 4-pound hammer aka bear and he kindly got to work on rolling it out.
i’ve seen a couple of videos where they roll out pastry between two sheets of baking paper. this is pretty cool because you don’t have to keep flouring the surface.
i separated the eggs, added the flour and sugar and whisked. bad idea!
too much dry ingredients. i keep whisking and then add a bit of milk. worse idea! i now have lumps. i want to cry. i hate lumps. lumpy anything means i failed. i’m 5 minutes into this adventure…how can i be failing already. i keep whisking but these lumps aren’t going anywhere. bear to the rescue…”why don’t you just blitz it”. this guy is not just a pretty face i tell you.
so i blitzed and i got a nice smooth mixture. yay for leesha!
i heated the milk with some vanilla seeds and added the warmed liquid to my blitzed mixture. i then added the whole lot back into the pot, handed the whisk to bear and took over in the pastry department.
the pastry wasn’t rolling out very well and we were running out of time (i still needed to blind bake and the custard was practically ready. so i took it out of the baking paper and started working it into the tart tin by hand. this is not ideal but desperate times call for manic acts of insanity!
the custard is ready and i haven’t whisked up the egg white. i blind bake the pastry, whisk the eggs and then fold into the custard. i’ve incorporated the whipped egg whites in (gently) and there are lumps. i don’t understand. i blitzed the bejeezus out of that egg/flour mixture.
i am sad and everything smells kinda eggy which is not my best. i have nothing to do but watch the timer count down and ponder my failures. i am not in a great mood.
once the time is up i wait two more minutes before pulling out the pastry. i remove the baking beans and fill with the custard mixture. i put it back in the oven for 15 minutes, during which time i wash the dishes.
the baked tart looks a little too firm. i was expecting a bit of a wobble…like you get with lemon tart which then sets as it cools but none of that here. also the filling seems to have risen somewhat. very strange.
i leave the milk tart to cool and go put on something warm for our evening out.
its wednesday morning. i tell bear to try a piece of milk tart and if its not nice to just throw it away and not tell me anything about it. this poor guy. he doesn’t even like milk tart. he messages later to say its good. no lumps even. i’m skeptical but when i try some for myself i realise my sweet husband is actually not sugar-coating the situation. its actually pretty good albeit a firmer filling than i’m used to. this is easily remedied though. we’ll just use less flour next time. also i’ll blind bake the pastry more. the bottom has gone soft but i’m pretty sure if i bake it more it will be slightly more impervious to the filling.
lessons learnt: i can play with recipes. i know enough to make things taste good even though it might not be a classical interpretation of the dish. my milk tart didn’t knock my socks off but it was still perfectly edible and i now know enough about how i would change what i did so next time i’ll get what i’m looking for. i would have also effectively created my own recipe. and to that i say hallelujah…and muhahahahahahahahaha!