Taking time out in Oslo to relax with some life essentials
The trouble with having a holiday is it becomes an opportunity to stop and think about things, and to contemplate whether what you're doing is really what you want to be doing... You see, I started this blog at a time when things weren’t ok. It was a means of distraction. A way to keep myself preoccupied when things were getting a bit much; a source of comfort and fun. It was a window into a different realm, an escape that, in many ways, worked far too well. In the process of start life over I changed jobs, then changed careers, and now - I bake for a living.
And while it's been grand doubling up on my adventures, it seems the time to get serious has come. I'm all done at baker school now and with a desire to focus more intently on work I'm finding it harder and harder to keep balance. As much as I love the bake-shoot-edit process I don't get outside as much as I'd like, and there are other, non-food things I'm keen to set my mind to.
So I'm going to be taking a break. Stepping out for some fresh air, teaching myself a new hobby or two, and throwing myself headlong into the next stage of what being a baker is all about. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to be baking. But I want to follow and learn from the people who constantly inspire me, to bake what they bake rather than messing around to try and create something vaguely my own. I'd still like to share these delicious trials and discoveries, but I no longer need an entire blog post to do that.
Whether this is the end, I don't know. There's no doubt I will miss the writing so may very well be back, but in the meantime you'll just have to follow along @theladybaker until there's a more definite plan of attack. It's a bit sudden, I know, and I should probably go out with a spectacular, all-frills bang, but since I've never been one for ado I'll instead slip away quietly with this: No fuss or fanfare, just an interesting take on the ol' egg custard tart from a man who’s been at the kitchen’s heart for many bakers of my ilk. For me, perfection has always been in mastering the classics, and I've always had a soft spot for a just-warm, just-wobbly, creamy custard tart.
FRUMENTY TART (Adapted from this recipe by Dan Lepard)
For the pastry:
- 125 g plain flour
- 25 g icing sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 75 g butter, cubed
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1 egg yolk (keep the white for the filling)
For the filling:
- 300 ml milk
- 20 g semolina
- 25 g butter
- 25 g honey
- 50 g caster sugar
- 4 eggs, plus the egg white from above
- 25 ml Marsala
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to finish
To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl, rub in the butter, and then bring together into a dough by adding the egg yolk and vanilla. Cover in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, before rolling out on a lightly-floured surface until ~2 mm thick. Use the pastry to line the base and sides of a 18 cm, round tart tin and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170℃, line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking weights or rice. Blind bake for 30 minutes, remove the weights and paper, brush lightly with egg wash and bake for a further 5 minutes, until lightly golden.
Prepare the filling by whisking together the milk and semolina in a small pan and bringing to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover and leave for 10 minutes. Whisk in the butter, honey and sugar, followed by the beaten eggs and Marsala. Place the baked tart shell on a tray and then pour in the filling. Bake at 170℃ for ~30 minutes, until the edges are just set but the centre still wobbles. Finish the tart with freshly grated nutmeg. Serve slightly warm or chilled with a good dollop of double cream.