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Lattice Jam & Ricotta tart

12 Oct

Its been eons since I have posted. What between shifting homes and countries, life has been one long transit! R’s company decided to move him to Cairo but we ended up being in Dubai courtesy the Egyptian revolution.

It took our stuff 4 months to reach, by which time most of my clothes were musty, and some of my kitchen ware was rusted. I guess that is not too surprising given that the stuff was packed waiting to be shipped for 4 long months during the monsoon.

To cut a long story short, now in Dubai, well settled in, and, back to cooking! Though I seem to derive significantly more pleasure out of baking than cooking. Needless to say, it’s a lot worse for my waistline than cooking is, sigh!

Have people over for dinner tonight, and am baking a jam and ricotta tart.  Should have ideally been stewed fruit, but didn’t have the car, no berries, so decided to make do with jam instead. It didn’t come out too bad!

Shortcrust pastry

300 gms all purpose flour

150 gms butter or margarine cubed

75 gm icing sugar

2 eggs beaten separately

Filling

150 gms ricotta cheese, beaten well and flavoured with 2 tbsp of icing sugar

200-225 gms of good quality pulpy jam either strawberry, raspberry or blueberry

Making the short crust pastry

In the mixer bowl of a food processor, mix the flour and icing sugar. Add the butter cubes and whizz the mix till it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add one beaten egg, give a couple of whizzes, and check the dough. It should be soft to touch, a little, not too much, pliable and not stiff.  Add a lil bit of the second beaten egg, check dough again. You may need to add half an egg more, but very unlikely any more than that. Too much egg will make the dough very loose, it will fall apart and hold the tart together and when you bake, it will crisp to a biscuit! Keep aside the remaining egg, you will needit later for glazing the tart.

(Not posting photos cos the process is the same as making tartlets except that this recipe adds icing sugar cos its a sweet tart).

Remove the dough from the mixer, knead it so that it comes together, cover with cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for 20 mins to rest.

Lining the tart tin

Oil the tart tin well to ensure that the baked tart does not stick to the tin and comes out easily.

Roll the dough out into a circle till its about 2-3 inches larger than the base of the tart.

Drape the rolled dough on a rolling pin and lay it out on the tart base. Push the dough against the wall of the tin and then press the edge to cut off the excess dough so that the rolled dough neatly lines the base of the tart. Roll up the excess pastry and keep it in the fridge till you need it again.

Adding the filling

Take the ricotta cheese, beat it well with a whisk or a fork and add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and then line the above tart case with an even layer of the sweetened ricotta.

Take the jam in a bowl, beat it with a whisk and then pour it above the ricotta layer, again spreading it evenly.

Making the lattice

Now take out the excess pastry from the fridge and roll it out into a large circle slightly larger than the tart tin. Cut it into thin strips.

Dip your pastry brush in the remaining beaten egg, and, brush the edges of the lined pastry in the tart.

Now lift a strip and lay it across the tart, then pick the next one and lay it at right angles to this one. Similarly keep picking up one strip at a time and keep alternating laying them vertically and horizontally. The edges of the strips will overhang the edge of the tart tin.

Continue to alternate the strips till the entire tart is covered. Then press the edges of the strips against the pastry base to seal the strips into the pastry base. Press your fingers along the edge of the tart tin to cut off the excess pieces of the strips to obtain a perfect lattice.

Baking the tart

Preheat the oven to 180 degree. Brush the top of the lattice tart with the beaten egg.

When the preheat is completed or about 5-6 minutes in a gas oven, place the tart in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

When 30-35 minutes are over, take the tart out of the oven, put it in a wire rack and allow it to cool. It will still cook some courtesy its own heat even after you take it out.

When ready to serve, heat it in a micro or keep it in a warm oven 15 mins before serving. Serve with pouring consistency custard!

Important: Its important to use good quality jam. Poor quality or smooth jams ( jams without any visible fruit lumps) tend to melt to liquid while baking and spill out of the tart. The sugar in the melted jam coats the lattice and tends to caramalise making the pastry extremely hard.

Vegetarian version: You can use chilled water instead of the egg while making the shortcrust pastry. For glazing and sealing the strips to the edges of the base, you can use milk.

Brownie muffins

19 Apr

That seems like an anachronism right? Brownie muffins? Well we all like brownies and muffins were so much easier to put in D’s school snack box, so I settled for this convinient marriage. Ideally the batter should be poured out in a square / rectangle tin, wait till it cools down and then cut into absolutely decadent, gooey and dense, rich brownies. In fact I suspect, some of that denseness and gooeyness is actually lost when you bake it as a muffin, but these still taste so good, that I am happy to take the liberty!

According to Wikipeadia, the brownie made its first appearnace in 1893 in Chicago, Illinois at an exposition. A chef at the city’s Palmer House Hotel created the brownies, in response to a request for a specific dessert for ladies attending the fair. It had to fulfill two criteria – smaller than a piece of cake and easily eaten from boxed lunches. These first brownies featured an apricot glaze and walnuts, and they are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe! Little did the lady or the Chef concerned know, that they were creating a confection which will probably go down in history as the ultimate comfort food!

Ingredients

250 grams dark chocolate chopped

250 grams unsalted butter chopped

4 eggs

330 grams caster sugar (or regular sugar ground to a powder)

150 gm plain flour

½ tsp salt

150 grams walnuts (optional)

 Method

In a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolate and unsalted butter. In case you don’t have a double boiler, take 2 pans, one larger than the other. In the smaller one, fill water and heat, on top of that put the larger pan with chocolate and butter and melt them both with the steam.

Once the chocolate and butter have melted, you should get a smooth liquid, with no lumps. Keep aside and let it cool.

In a separate utensil, beat the eggs till fluffy. Then add the sugar till it comes together as a nice thick emulsion like substance.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into this. Mix the salt well with the flour. Add the flour mix to the egg and chocolate mixture and incorporate the flour completely. Always mix in the same direction. if you are adding walnuts (and do add them, they add immense texture and flavour to the muffin),  add them to the batter now.

Pour it into the muffin moulds and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25 mins.

Leave it in the over for another 15 mins.

Unmould and serve with vanilla icecream and some chocolate sauce!

Bon Appétit!

P.S. Another brownie / almost like brownie recipe that I just absolutely love is the Kladdkaka. Its the Swedish gift to chocoholics  – a cross between a brownie and a lava cake, yum – and D’s Swedish friend’s mother used to make kladdkaka to die for! Pernilla did give me the recipe, but I am still struggling with converting decigrams, deciletres etc…maybe one day, sigh!