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2014 Resolution: A Pie (or Tart) a Month

Posted: January 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2014: A Pie (or Tart) a Month | Comments Off

almond_tart_slice

Almond Marmalade Tart

Last summer during the peak of berry season, I sacrificed a generous load of farmers’ market blueberries from our usual summer, raw-berry eating, bacchanalia to make a pie. I made the blueberry pie from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook: Favorite Breads, Pastries, Sweets & Savories and Dylan hailed it “the best pie he’d ever eaten.” The crust was a revelation and defied expectation, being at once hearty, thick, and oh so tender. This crust flaked at the mere suggestion of fork or knife. The berries were lightly spiced with cinnamon and cloves and produced a pie with prodigious, shirt and teeth staining juice. This was a pie for a pie lover with no concern for bound up fruit and neat edges.

Then again in November, Dylan and I teamed up to make a nearly perfect pecan pie for Thanksgiving and I was reminded again of how much I love pie making. So what went wrong? I botched the crust, which I think went mostly unnoticed by everyone but me and Dylan. Specifically, I over processed the flour and fats and the crust came together in a homogenous mass that produced a tender crust, but much too sandy rather than flaky. The near perfection of that pie inspired my 2014 resolution to make a pie or tart a month.

This 2014 resolution is meant to get me back in tune with pie making, to practice, to regain the ability to see two steps ahead in the baking process, to make better decisions. Wow.  And here is January’s effort — Almond Marmalade Tart. A pressed-in shortbread crust, a smear of fine-cut marmalade, a decadent almond cream, shortbread crumble, and a smattering of slivered almonds.

The tart is a mashup of two recipes:  Italian Jam Shortbread Tart from Food52 and the almond cream portion of a recipe from David Lebovitz. I picked the shortbread tart recipe for the base and crumble and its ease (i.e. it didn’t call for a pre- or par-baked crust), but I wanted it to be a little more than just jam and crumble. Since I had a good amount of almond paste kicking around my refrigerator, I settled on amending the tart with an almond cream.

Here are the other adjustments that I applied:

  • Doubled the salt in the shortbread to 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Omitted the 2 teaspoons sugar in the almond paste (reviews of the shortbread tart mentioned it being a bit too sweet)
  • Added a 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier to the almond paste
  • Added a few drops almond extract to the almond paste

The results were good. The almond cream was fantastically almond-y, puffed, and light. The marmalade added a nice bitter balance. But the bottom crust was a disappointment — underdone and pasty. That’s what I get for going against my better judgement and numerous, similar recipes calling for pre- or par-baked shells.

I’d love to make this again someday and will definitely take the extra step to bake that base.