Archive for March, 2012

Pear and Custard Tart

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Pears have come into season, and are ripening beautifully on the kitchen counter.

This tart is quite easy to make, with the custard being able to be prepared far in advance, and just cut the pear up soon before baking (to prevent browning of the pear).

The pear is not pre-cooked, so retains the fresh pear flavour, so make sure it is a nice ripe and firm pear you choose for your dessert.

The dessert combines crispy pastry, creamy rich hot custard, fresh pear and cold ice cream. I hope you enjoy.

I have entered this into the “What can you pear with a pear” challenge run by the Australian Pear Industry. Although I may not have gone far out of the box (or out of the box at all), I am certainly happy with how this recipe turned out, and managed to make it three times this month. I hope you enjoy this recipe and the others that have been entered into the competition.

Pear and Custard Tart

Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

Serves: 4

1 sheet puff pastry, cut into 4 squares
1 ripe (and still firm) pear, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons (~13g) cornflour
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence)
Vanilla ice cream, home-made or store-bought
Icing sugar or icing sugar mixture, to serve

To prepare custard, heat milk and vanilla bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat until warmed (if using vanilla essence, add at the very end of the custard recipe). Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a small/medium bowl, until lightened in colour and thickened. Slowly pour in the warm milk while whisking the yolk mixture. Strain this mixture back into the saucepan, removing the vanilla pod. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly until the custard has thickened. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl (add essence at this point if you are not using a vanilla bean). Place plastic cling film over the custard, touching the custard to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until required. (The custard can be made 1/2 hour, or even a few days, before using).

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place squares of puff pastry on one or two baking trays with baking paper. Place the custard in the middle of the pastry squares, leaving an edge of 2cm. Fan out the thinly cut pear slices over the custard.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (checking after 10-15 minutes, and rotating if necessary). Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, place on plate and dust with icing sugar and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

White Bread Roll with Dutch Crunch Topping – Daring Bakers Challenge March 2012

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

It has been a few months of bread challenges for the Daring Bakers. I must admit I have really enjoyed trying all these new recipes, I know I never would had gotten around to making most of them, or even finding the recipes on the internet. We still have our sourdough starter, and it is really working nicely now, hopefully Nick will do a guest post on it in the future.

This month we had a few challenges, to make a bread, to use the Dutch crunch topping (also called Tiger bread due to its appearance once cooked), and the make a sandwich. I tried one of the bread recipes that was given as a suggestion, and it is one of the best quick breads I have made, with a lovely soft inside, I will be making it again.

The Dutch crunch topping was very interesting to make, as it contains yeast and rice flour, and is like a bread dough in some ways. I used the suggested amount and had a nice thick layer on top of my bread. It came out lovely and crunchy. We used the rolls for sandwiches (I was going to use them as buns for veggie burgers, bit didn’t get around to making the veggie burger patties), and the loaf was warmed in the oven the next day and eaten with slow cooked beef in red wine with cous cous. I would also recommend eating it with olive oil, caramelised balsamic vinegar and dukkah.

The sandwiches we made had proscuitto, tomato, sliced polski-orgorki pickles and semi-dried tomatoes, topped with Persian Feta.

Recipe Source: The recipe for the Dutch Crunch topping came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. The recipes for the breads we’ve suggested came from The Bread Bible and an adaptation of a recipe found on (

Dutch Crunch Topping

Servings: This recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9×5 loaves (23cmx13cm) or 12 rolls. If you make only 6 rolls in the first soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.

We’ve provided this recipe first because it is the mandatory aspect of the challenge. Note, however, that you should not prepare the topping until the bread you’ve selected to bake is almost finished rising (~15 minutes from baking).

2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

2. Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. We tried coating it with a brush but it worked better just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.
3. Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping. With the Brown Rice Bread, the loaves should stand for 20 minutes with the topping before baking.
4. When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.

Soft White Roll

Servings: Six sandwich rolls

This recipe approximates the quintessential white sandwich roll found throughout the Bay Area. The recipe is simple, quick, and addictive.

1 tablespoon (1 packet) (15 ml) (7 gm/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (No need to use a thermometer – it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
1 cup (240 ml) warm milk (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (We’ve tried both nonfat and 2%, with no noticeable difference)
1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (20 gm/ ⅔ oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm/⅓ oz) salt
Up to 4 cups (960 ml) (600 gm/21oz) all purpose flour

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).

2. Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together. (The photo to below is with the first 2 cups of flour added).

3. Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below (For us, this usually required an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour).

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size (see photo comparison).

6. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).

7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
8. Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping, I got better results by putting them directly into the oven.

9. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

Our finished products: Note the roll in the foreground on the left. This is what happens if you don’t put enough topping on the bread – no cracking! So be sure to load on the topping.

Taste of Sydney – March 2012

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

After huge amounts of rain on Thursday in Sydney, it made a lot of sense that the Taste of Sydney‘s opening Thursday night was cancelled. When I went after work on Friday night, there were still ponds around trees in Centennial Park – and these ponds were under seating and benches, so we knew they weren’t meant to be there, but that didn’t stop the ducks from paddling their feet there.

Arriving at 6.30pm, there was not much room to park at all, although this meant we had a nice walk through park on our way to the festival (it also meant it was a dark walk back – which I used my iphone torch to help guide our way, so we didn’t get caught in any puddles).

I went straight to buy Crowns (the currency of the Taste of Sydney), pick up my free Gourmet Traveller magazine, and then on to buy the entrees.

For my entree, I purchased the Barbarossa Ravioli – Ravioli of Sliced Pickled Beetroot with Goats Curd, Pistachio and Horseradish from Otto Ristorante. It was beautifully presented – people even came up and asked what it was and where they could get it – and the taste was lovely too. I only wish there was more 🙂

Nick had the Charcuterie Tasting Plate with Cornichons and Mustard Fruits from The Cut Bar and Grill. The flavours of the meat were certainly a great starter for the night.

For the main I had the Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Polenta and Green Sauce from The Montpellier Public House. The Lamb fell off the bone and was lovely and flavoursome. I wish there had been more meat, as there was a lot of bone and fat left over.

Next to try was the Roast Suckling Pig, Coleslaw, Onion Rings and Hot Sauce from Four in Hand. The pig fell apart beautifully had a good flavour, Nick enjoyed this.

On to dessert, I decided to try the Hokey Pokey Ice Cream Sandwich from Quarter Twenty One, and found the honeycomb and chocolate worked very nicely. I didn’t think preserved citrus that was paired with it worked well, so I ate the ice cream sandwich by itself.

The other dessert we tried was the Cremino al Cioccolato: Amedei gianduia chocolate crema, salty caramel gelato, Italian meringue from A Tavola. This dessert came in a little coffee cup, and the combination of flavours worked well, with chocolate at the bottom, caramel and soft Italian meringue on top.

As we ate quite soon after arriving, we managed to get a good spot on the picnic rugs and tables provided by LilyDale which were located in the middle of the festival, and also surrounding some wonderful entertainment provided at the Argyle Bandstand. On Friday night, Fantine was playing – and she was fantastic! A wonderful singer and entertainer.

We then walked around looking for some free trials of foods, and of course City Tattersalls Club did not disappoint, with drinks and Greek Doughnuts on offer. We also tried frozen yoghurt from Foxy’s Premium Frozen Yoghurt, breakfast juice from Nudie Foods, jams from the Jam Lady Jam, mango and chilli biltong from Springbok Delights, and soft creamy feta from Yarra Valley Dairy. We bought a few foods to take home and will keep an eye out for any recipes that are posted from this year’s event.

Anita received 3 tickets for the Taste of Sydney from Stella Concepts.

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