strawberry rhubarb tart.

baking is its own independent subset of “cooking.” it feels more like high school chemistry than actual food preparation. so much measuring and powders and strange ingredients whose absence (or excess of presence) can completely make or break whatever concoction you’re working on. to be sure, the outcome of baking is always worth the process, but man… it can be stressful. and anything stressful that involves a delicate balance of ingredients and hot-oven monitoring is probably not a good idea if you’ve already spent the majority of your memorial day weekend drinking sierra nevada in an inflatable kiddie pool in your backyard.

deep in my heart, i know better than to bake under the influence.  but i had guests to impress, all of the ingredients on hand (including loads of fragrant local strawberries), homemade rhubarb preserves from the day before, a virgin tart pan that i had yet to use, and a raging food-lust for strawberry-rhubarb anything. so, game on.

i was pretty haphazard with the crust (which is the worst way to be with a crust) but i wasn’t too worried since it was a press-in and pretty hard to go wrong with.  i used smitten kitchen’s “great unshrinkable tart shell” recipe, which was fine, but came out really really hard (i don’t have a food processer so i just mixed it by hand, which is also a crust no-no). it got too warm. then i put it in the freezer. it got too cold. oh well. it tasted nice… just hard.

pastry cream is easy to make but you have to stir it constantly and get it off the heat at exactly the right time. an added 5 seconds can make it clumpy and ugly. i undershot this time and it was too liquidy. still delicious, though.

in the end, i folded the rhubarb preserves into the pastry cream, topped it with sliced strawberries, chilled it for a couple of hours, and served it in the candlelit backyard where we all sat with our feet in the pool, listening to al green. the crust was too hard, the cream was too soft, but the flavors were amazing and how could anybody complain?


~ by marcella on June 1, 2010.

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