Monday, August 29, 2011

Enjoying Summer Bounty with Summer Fruit Crumble

Just when I am about to post about summer fruits, summer is officially over. While East Coast is hit by hurricane Irene, and Texas and other states are scorching hot, weather here in northern California is great as usual, about 80 F constantly during the day, and low 60's F at night. This is exactly why people love California, cool and gentle breeze, not humid and not dry. Perfect.

I am now in a week break from all the baking duties. I was really busy with quite a bit of cake stuff including 90th birthday cake, sorbet making frenzy (and still going), putting use of all the beautiful summer produce we have here in tarts, ice cream, and more cake.

There was my niece's first birthday party involving a full dessert table and a two-tiered cake. There was also a dessert table and wedding cake I made for a wedding 1.5 weeks ago. In between all this craziness, I also went for a few-day trip to Boston for a different wedding and very quick "vacation" (it ended up not being a vacation at all due to lack of sleep and food the whole time we're there, lots of walking too!). I was back mid week last week and immediately planning for my sis-in-law birthday. I feel dizzy just writing all these stuff, but just in case you're wondering where I have been, well... there you go.

I have no plan for this coming labor day weekend really, I am thinking of spending the time in the kitchen baking for my pleasure (not for any particular occasion), although I need to make more cakes for the following weekend (it never stops). Taking pictures is now a lower priority, as long as everything gets done, and most of the time, they're done in the nick of time, cutting it really close to the due timing. But I do have quite a bit of desserts I managed to squeeze in about 1-2 months ago and I will post them one post at a time.

Like this dessert for example, not planned at all. I opened my fridge one day and found a lot of different type of fruits, apricots from church friend, plums from my coworker, cherries I bought at farmers' market, peaches I bought when I passed through a fruit stand, you name it, it's there. I decided to make a quick summer fruit crumble with them, probably the easiest way to use up all of them all in one dessert.

I made the crumble first and refrigerate them until I was ready to use them. I made more in advance and keep the rest in an airtight container in the freezer and you can use them for other tarts, or even cake or parfait and ice cream topping.

It was fairly quick and easy to make this dessert. I served it with vanilla bean ice cream that I made a while ago and fresh apricot slices.

Speaking of summer produce, my fridge is now full of pounds of fresh sweet raspberries and strawberries, a few pounds of cherries too. I am too excited (and a bit overwhelmed) just thinking of the possibilities of their destiny in a cake/dessert form. A suggestion of your favorite summer cake/dessert that includes berries and/or cherries is greatly appreciated :).


Summer Fruit Crumble

Crumble Topping
100g unsalted butter
100g flour
100g granulated sugar
75g almond flour
pinch of salt
  • Mix all of the ingredients in a mixer with a paddle attachment until crumbly, or mix by hand.
  • Crumble on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use
Fruit Filling

400g Summer fruits (apricot, peach, nectarine, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, plums, cherries, etc.)
10g flour (you can add more if you're using fruits that release a lot of juice like strawberry)
25 g sugar (you can adjust this too if your fruits are more on the tart or sweeter side)
lemon zest ( a bout 1/2 tsp-1 tsp or so)
1/2 pod of vanilla bean, scrape the seeds (optional)
  • Cut up the larger fruit into pieces and toss them together with the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds (if using)
  • Divide between ramekins
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until it's bubbly and the crumble topping is nicely browned.
  • Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or just plain sweetened whipped cream

Friday, August 5, 2011

Meyer Lemon Tart

Ah.. finally this post is up!!

Every year around Spring time (it is kinda late this year), I am always loaded with a whole bunch of meyer lemons, mostly coming from neighbor's tree, friends, and also from my coworker's too. The coworker has a meyer lemon tree that is producing all year around (yup, I now now where to get my source all year!).

The temperature here is staying around 80's on average, cool in the morning and at night. I guess making lemon tart is really appropriate to finally celebrating the hot summer days! I LOVE SUMMER!

Life is still crazy busy, it seems like there is never enough time for everything, I am sure it happens with most of you too. Lack of sleep is becoming a regular now, so between work, baking, personal life, social life, errands (or chores), sometimes you really just want to sit back and relax.

anyways, if you've been following this blog for a while, you probably notice that I would make meyer lemon tart every year and this year is no difference, just a bit later than usual (I made this about 1.5 months ago). I have been trying to use them fast since they have been in the fridge for quite a while and I would hate it if they're going to waste. So, I managed to make this lemon tart and macaron over a span of a week, one component at a time.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this tart (that is really the primary reason why I make them every year)! As usual, the recipe comes from Pierre Herme and I am pretty sure any lemon lovers are well-informed about his brilliant lemon cream. It is always satisfying everytime I make it and it will continue to appear every year.

So if you still have some stash of lemons, please try this. And even if you don't, you might want to go get it to make this tart.

Pierre Herme's Meyer Lemon Tart

Pate Sucree
yield: three 101/2-in crusts or four 8-in crusts

300g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
190g powdered sugar
60g ground almonds
1 vanilla bean, scrapped
2 eggs, room temperature
500g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

* Put the butter in a mixer bowl and cream until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment.
* Add the sugar, ground almonds, and vanilla bean seeds. Mix until combined.
* Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the previous one before adding the next one (the dough might look curdled at this point but don't worry, it'll come together once you add the flour)
* Combine the flour and salt. Add to the dough in about three addition. Mix until just it comes together. Do not overwork! Like Pierre said, "it's better to have lumps of butter rather than to have an overworked dough".
* Divide the dough in the portions you need. Form each one into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight (you can also freeze the dough at this point and thaw it in the fridge overnight).
* Remove one disk from the fridge, and roll it either between two sheets of parchment paper, or just well-floured surface. You need to move quickly though. You don't want the dough to be soft and overworked.
* Line your tart pan with the dough and put it back in the fridge for at least 1-2 hrs to rest.
* Preheat the oven to 350 F.
* When you're ready to bake, put a parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the bottom with either rice or beans.
* Bake for 20 minutes. Take the parchment paper and the beans/rice off, then continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes until it's golden brown.
* Let cool in the ring.

Lemon Cream

200 g whole eggs (4 eggs)
240 g granulated sugar
160 g fresh Meyer lemon juice
zest from about 5 lemons
300 g unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed

* Rub the zest with the sugar using your finger until the sugar is moistened with lemon oil.
* On a double boiler, combine the sugar, eggs and juice .
* Whisk/stir constantly until the mixture reaches 85-86 C.
* Strain the mixture and let cool to about 55-60 C and put it in a blender (if you don't have a hand-held blender)
* Add the butter a couple of pieces at a time, to make an emulsion. The mixture will lighten in color. Continue running the blender for a few minutes after all of the butter has been added to ensure the airy and light cream. Make sure stop and run the blender a few times to avoid over-heating.
* Pour the mixture into prepared crust and refrigerate.