It’s slowly occurring to me that I’m becoming a baker just as much as a chef cook, but just as I have a general predilection for using made-from-scratch ingredients, when it comes to baking, it’s helpful at times to rely on what folks out there already make commercially–it’s a real timesaver and allows a baker (home) to be more productive…or at least, inclined to produce.

For instance, I was recently at my local market and found, still tenable and sweet, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. This screamed out fruit tart to me, but for it to be successful, some sort of pastry creme to line the baked tart shell would be needed, and frankly, cooking up butter, sugar, cream and lemon on a stovetop for thirty minutes…in addition to rolling out my own pastry dough…well, a deal breaker.

So when I saw at my local market some of their in-store-made lemon curd, and priced pretty reasonably, well…what do you think I did?

Here’s a pic of the tarts…

…oops, wrong tarts (these are two Vietnamese-Chinese women who have a popup food stand in San Francisco)…but I like the picture so it stays.

Speaking of doing things from scratch, one other ingredient that really isn’t worth my time to perfect or master is puff pastry. While it may be cost effective, it isn’t time effective, so I will simply head to my local market’s frozen section and buy my puff pastry there. And for the pithivier I chose to make this week, it was almost like cheating as nearly all the ingredients could be bought without utilizing that seemingly sacrosanct approach of doing it from scratch.

A pithivier is a basic French pastry from the eponymously named French town that is so well known for the skills of its bakers, and is a pastry filled with a mix of butter, sugar, almond paste, and a bit of vanilla, all sandwiched between two sheets of puff pastry. This recipe is not too sweet, very almondy, and delightful for breakfast or even a nice luncheon dessert.

The only items in this recipe that were home made or ‘from scratch’ was the vanilla I made this summer (dump a couple of vanilla beans in a jar of vodka, date it with a label, and three months later you’ve got some pretty inexpensive vanilla for baking let me tell you).

Puff pastry. Store bought.
Almond paste. Store bought.
Hmm. The only activity one has here is simply assembling the ingredients, creaming them together, spreading it on the bottom half of the pastry, covering it with the other piece, crimping it together, and (at last) decoratively cutting a pattern on the top surface for steam venting.

Well, at least there was some creativity here.

So does this qualify as ‘home made’? Well, it was assembled at home, baked at home so there is that. But…despite my penchant to do it all from scratch, sometimes it’s just not in the cards, and taste is the final arbiter. And all agree, even my chocolate-preferring wife, that it was quite tasty.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Claremont Ave,Berkeley,United States