Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chez Panisse Almond Tart


I need to confess. I misspelled Chez Panisse, for a few times before I got it right.

David described the famous tart in his website. While reading, my mind was wandering, sitting at the patio, fork-digging the tart...then the fork bent (as David mentioned, this pie was removed from the menu as customers complained they had trouble eating it with fork), I then use my hand grabbed it up...put it my mouth...chew...w...w. Okay, wake up to reality. I was inspired, it was time to strap on the apron.


I agree with David, this one is a bit tricky (and sticky). I would really really and really love to make it again, but...(yes, there is a but) I will need to stand in front of the oven at all times. You'll see why.
Find the recipe here

The crust was easy to make. The dough I made was not as soft as David's. I prefer to make it dryer as easier to handle that way.

Once finished rubbing butter into flour, I added water by spraying water into the flour(instead of pour 1tbsp directly into the bowl as I found it is almost impossible to get all bits well-combined with 1 pour of tiny amount of water). While spraying, toss the bowl to dampen dry crumbs.


Talking about spraying, I counted how many times I sprayed into the bowl, how many strokes would turn crumbs into dough. It counted 75. -_- I intended to measure ….75 puffs was equal to how many tablespoon or water(?) . I know, I got my agenda. The day passed by, I forgot to do this. Then My sub-consciousness reminded me, in my dream that I needed to do this first thing in the morning. So next morning, I did. [Are you envisioning me, getting up in the morning, running in PJ , crazily puffing water into a tiny tablespoon? My neighbor might have seen me , which explains why they looked at me in a odd way.

[now go back to procedures.]

I stopped spraying when the crumbs held together when I squeezed them in my palm. I think I used more than 1 tbps of water as directed. I was surprised though that unbaked dough came out drier than expected. May be the humidity was low? See below, humidity in my kitchen was only 30'ish (in summer it was 70'ish, and FYI, in Bangkok it was 80'ish in a non-rainy day).















I poured the dough on the working space, as the rule of thumps in making pie, I didn't knead. I wrapped the dough and it went directly outside the window. No, I dint’ throw away, I just rest the dough in a cold place. Outside was colder than the fridge. I set alarm clock not to forget it there, an hour later, before I went shopping.

Can I confess one more thing? I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I have a (lame) excuse; bread flour is a lot easier to buy (here in shanghai) and a lot cheaper. I did try to source cake flour produced locally. No luck. Bread flour should be okay, I thought. I barely kneaded it, plus there was very little liquid in the dough, I was just crossing my fingers that gluten wouldn’t develop. And I’m glad it came out okay.





After I came back from shopping (gee, it was cold out there. I couldn't feel if my ears were still attached to my face. Especially, after an old guy pointed at me...gossipped with his grandson at the mall, maybe my ears fell off the ground !?). I checked myself in mirror and I looked fine (and pretty). So, I strapped on an apron and started to roll the dough.










The dough was easy to handle. I pressed the dough up to fully cover the side. Once done, I chilled the pan for half an hour. Put it out, slid inside the oven and baked blind. After 15 min, the side of the dough shrank quite a bit !!! I kind of expected this but...oh gee, please don't shink further. I wanted to decored it up to the edge, made it nice...but boyd, the oven was hot! So, I just hoped that it left some edge for me enough to hold the filling.

While baking pie shell, I made filling, which is super easy. But hold on, once you pour the filling and start baking....someone got to do the dirty job.


In the oven, once the filling started to bubbled...I smoothed it out to prevent ugly top as described in David's website. It was not easy but it is a must. And when you open oven door frequently, temperature was , I think, a bit difficult to control.


And this was when I think how baking new recipe is interesting. There are a few factors out of control. Sometimes I just scream when things went wrong in the midst.



And , I found it very difficult to make top crust as nice the original. Eventhough this was a pain, I made this twice with in twon weeks. It was a big hit , maybe my (male) colleagues love something crunchy ? I myself like it very mooch (much) too. I will definitely make this again.


Thanks again David.

Note: David Lebovitz is my latest culinary hero, besides Alton Brown. :-D

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

I think David beats Alton anyday :) Yummy tart!!!

Cynthia said...

The end result is lovely and looks like a dessert you can serve at any white-tablecloth establishment. You bring back fond memories of my visit to Chez Panisse just a few years ago. I didn't have an almond tart, but I did have a lavender/honey creme brulee that made me cry. Anything by Alice Waters has that effect on me.

Ingrid said...

MMMMM, I love almonds. Your tart sounds & looks delightful. I like crunchy!
~ingrid

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