Mixed Berry Fruit Tart + 5 Quarantine Desserts for Mother’s Day

“My mother had said to me, “All right, you’ve been raised, so don’t let anybody else raise you. You know the difference between right and wrong. Do right. And remember – you can always come home.” And she continued to liberate me until she died. On the night she died, I went to the hospital. I told my mom, “Let me tell you about yourself. You deserved a great daughter, and you got one. And you liberated me to be one. So if it’s time for you to go, you may have done everything God brought you here to do.” Maya Angelou

I started baking again after several months of not having the energy to do so.  I spent those months focused on two graduate courses in applied behavorial analysis and autism therapies.  I’m happy to be baking again.  Writing will come when it comes.  It is such  peculiar being.  I will wait it out.  I have before.  The stories are still simmering.  I hope you enjoy this fruit tart.  Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay sane.  Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Mixed Berry Fruit Tart

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated

Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

1 cup ½ + ½

1 cup whole milk

½ cup of sugar

Pinch of Kosher Salt

5 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons of cornstarch

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold, cut into 4 pieces

1 + ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Zest of 1 orange

Directions:

Using a medium saucepan heat the half and half, whole milk, and 6 tablespoons sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until well combined.  Whisk in remaining sugar (2 tablespoons) until creamy and the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 15 seconds.  Next whisk in cornstarch until the mixture is pale, about 30 seconds.  After the milk and cream mixture reaches a simmer, slowly whisk a bit of the milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly as you go to temper.  Then add all of the yolks to the milk/cream mixture.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, orange zest, and vanilla extract.  If the pastry cream looks lumpy, strain it over a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until very cold, 3 hours or up to two days.

Tart Shell

Ingredients:

1+1/3 cups of AP flour

¼ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt

10 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of water

Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Set aside.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until you see dark brown solids forming in the pan, about 1 to 3 minutes.  Remove saucepan from heat and add water.  When the bubbling stops, pour the butter into the flour mixture.  Stir until completely combined.  Add the tart dough to a nine-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Press the dough evenly along the sides and across the bottom of the tart pan.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Rotate the pan halfway through baking time.  Once crust has cooked, cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.  The cooled crust can be loosely covered in plastic wrap and sit at room temperature for 1 day.

Fruit

2 pints fresh blueberries

1-pint strawberries

1-pint blackberries

Wash and dry the fruit.  Slice as you wish.  Set aside.

Apricot jam: In a small bowl, microwave 2 tablespoons of apricot jam with 1 tablespoon of water.  Mix well.  Set aside.

Assembly:

Once the tart shell has cooled, add the pastry cream, spreading evenly.  You may not use all of it.  Save the remainder for fresh fruit or just to eat by the spoonful!  Place 8 blackberries evenly around the shell.  Next, add the remaining berries in a decorative pattern.  Once the tart is covered with berries, lightly brush jam over the fruit.  Place fruit tart in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for 1 to 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Quarantine Baking Recipes for Mother’s Day

If mom is craving chocolate check out these simple and satisfying recipes: chocolate cream pie, outrageous brownies, and chewy chocolate chip bars.

Vegan carrot cake by Forks Over Spoons is sure to win Mom’s approval whether she is vegan or not!

Looking for something light and bright to make Mom?  Try making Wild Wild Whisk’s lemon cupcakes.  I can’t wait to try this recipe!

 

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake + 5 Must Read 2020 Baking Books

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Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

 

Anne looked for Tess in the everyday.  At first, it was the strong breeze at Tess’ funeral on an otherwise calm day.  How beautiful the cherry blossoms rained on them.  The grievers, the grief-stricken, the heart-broken, the lost.  Cherry blossoms floating, flying through the air, landing on their jackets, settling in their hair.

Are you the tenacious breeze Tess?  You made yourself known again.  It was a beautiful display of your all-encompassing presence. Bursts of lightning and hail at Red Rocks while Grace and Anne watched the Avett Brothers sing holding out hope the storm would pass.  And then it did pass.  You pushed out the weather and revealed the stars.  We sang and danced.

Months later an enormous dragonfly landed on Anne’s mailbox, her tiny head facing the house as if ignoring the world. She refused to leave.  Anne poked at it. Nothing but a slight movement in the wing.

What’s wrong with it, Mama? 

I’m not sure.  How do you explain a living thing desiring to stay when it knows it would be best to leave?  You don’t.  Some things are unexplainable.

Fall came and so did the dead bird.  The bird lay on the stone steps outside of Anne’s house, wings to the ground, its underbelly exposed to the sky, bright white, her tail feathers ombre shades of pale blue.  A single leaf-covered her head as if she were part of a crime scene.  Anne stared at it for a few seconds before the kids came out of the house, backpacks in hand ready to go to school.

Mama, what happened?

Gross!

Can we have a funeral for it? 

Not now.  Get in the car. We are late.  

Later that day they did have a funeral for the bird.  Not really.  The kids lost interest and just wanted Anne to get rid of it.  Except for her older son.  He handed Anne the shovel after a failed attempt at digging a hole into the semi-frozen ground.  Anne forced the shovel through the frosted ground, raising the handle above her head and coming down as hard as she could breaking through the ground.  Over and over again.  Anne’s heart pumped hard.  She could feel it.  Tears welled but never spilled over.  Anne gently placed the bird in the ground and covered her with the earth.

I’m glad we planted her there, Mama.  He walked into the house and closed the door.  If only we could plant the things we love and loose and eventually they come back in the spring blooming once again.

The last visitor was a ladybug.  She landed on Anne’s hand at some point without Anne noticing.  It wasn’t until Anne lifted the toilet brush out of the now clean toilet that Anne spotted her.  How strange.  Anne walked down the creaky old stairs.  The ladybug was still sitting on her hand.  She opened the front door and blew as if blowing out birthday candles.  She flew away.

Did you make a wish?

I forgot.

Anne didn’t forget.  She wished for peace.  Not world peace.  That won’t happen.  But peace in her crippled heart.  Peace in the heart she felt beating, once again, after a long silence, when she buried the bird.

 

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Simple Cakes by Odette Williams

Ingredients:

1 + ½ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tablespoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon espresso powder

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 + 1/3 cups of sugar

¾ cup of mild extra virgin olive oil

½ cup of whole milk

½ cup of buttermilk

¼ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon of orange zest

Ingredients for glaze:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar,

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons of boiling water,

½ teaspoon of vanilla

Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Butter, flour, and line with parchment paper 1 8×3 inch cake pan.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until very pale, about 3-5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Next, add the oil, buttermilk, milk, orange juice, zest.  Beat on low speed until frothy, about 1 minute.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until the cake springs back when touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely.  While the cake is cooling, make the vanilla glaze.

 

Directions for the glaze:

Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium-size bowl.  Add the softened butter.  Pour boiling water over butter.  Whisk until the butter melts and the sugar and water come together to make a glaze.  Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Assembly:

Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, spreading gently with an offset spatula if necessary.  Decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles if desired.  The cake can be stored at room temperature in an air-tight container until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

5 Baking Books to Check Out in 2020

Midwest Made by Shauna Sever is on all the lists right now.  Her recipes come straight from the heart of America.  You can get your copy here.

Weeknight Baking by Michelle Lopez, the author of the blog Hummingbird High, is a must-read for any home baker with easy and delicious recipes, as well as, suggestions for riffs to make it your own.

Looking to try something new this year or up your pastry skills?  Check out Pastry School by Le Cordon Bleu.  This baking book is a step by step baking guide for beginners, as well as, professionals.  Check it out!

Joanne Chang is by far one of my favorite bakers.  Her latest book Pastry Love is on my must-purchase list.

New to baking?  Buy a copy of Beginner’s Baking Bible by Heather Perine you will become an expert in no time…or at least more capable in the world of butter, flour, and sugar.