Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Apple Cake.

The other day I took this new cookbook out from the library:

It has the most beautiful photos, and it's all tart recipes. Obviously. It's food porn - you know the stuff I'm talking about. Anyone who owns a Jamie Oliver cookbook knows it exactly: the styled pictures, conversational writing and crazy incredibly specific, restaurant-like recipes. I haven’t made very many things from his books, but I was pretty impressed that he put in pictures of dead rabbits. Personally, I'm happy to look at photos and get ideas. Is this just me??

I have never made a tart in my life, but I figured it was time I started. I checked the book out and on the way home went into a fancy cookware store to buy a tart pan (only $4!), as well as making a final stop for a lot of butter. And apples - I was going to make my first apple tart.

To start with, there are eight apple tart recipes in The Art of Tarts, all equally different and indulgent. There was one with cheese, one that was crumbly, three with French names... I figured I could start with ‘A Plain Apple Tart’, just to begin with. Before making any tart, Tamasin instructs you to read her ‘mastering pastry’ section which claims the two secrets to be location and cold butter. Fair enough, but she also wanted me to chill and bake blindly. The instructions also end with ‘beware, but don’t be frightened’. My impatient self kicked in and all of a sudden, I no longer wanted to make the perfect tart (but I wasn’t afraid). I wanted something to eat in an hour! Luckily I'm a recipe-whore (self proclaimed) and I knew I had an apple cake recipe somewhere in my book from way back when, compliments of another food blog. I sorted through my "little red book" and found it - and I didn't need to chill. Or blind bake. So I made it. And it tasted so damn good… How could it not - all it really takes is sugar, butter and eggs. And apples! But, in the words of my friend who drives me to work once in a while and (now) his gas money comes in the form of baking, ‘the first bite tastes pretty good, the apples are good, the second bit is even better, and then by the time you hit the crust your mind is blown out your ass’. Those weren't his exact words, but he wont mind that I made him say that.

Seriously. It's that good. It could cure depression, if eaten with lots of red wine and good company (the words of another good friend).

Here is how you do it:

I didn’t use a food processor, just cold butter and my fingers. Don’t worry what the batter looks like, because it's going to look all wrong, but it’s going to work out whatever the consistency. Just don’t over mix it. Also, I’ve made it one more time since and used whole wheat flour and left the peels on the apples. Fibre is important!

And I promise, I will make a real tart. Very very soon.

On another note, I had the most remarkable sandwich of my entire life the other day. I was killing time downtown before going to work so I went to
Finch's for something quick. I have only been there once before, on Remembrance Day and it was rainy so the windows were all steamy on the inside. The menu is all over the wall in beautiful cursive on tiny blackboards and it's lovely and simple, hardboiled eggs for breakfast and sandwiches and cheese plates for lunch. For my sandwich a cute boy with a white collared shirt and skinny little black tie put slices of pear and brie on a crunchy baguette along with prosciutto, walnuts, lots of pepper and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I saved it for as long as I could but only made it a few blocks to where I sat on a bench in the rain and ate. I very seriously blissed out eating that thing - it was perfect. I could taste every single ingredient in it - the pepper and the oil and vinegar with the saltiness of the prosciutto, the creamy cheese on pear, and crunchy walnuts right at the centre of it all. Every ingredient was important. I sat on the corner and was completely engrossed in the eating of this sandwich. I could go on and on. If you live in Vancouver, please go to Finch's. Eat anything. They will make it worth your while.

And one final note: I have begun preparations for my balcony garden by sprouting seeds! I put seeds into egg cartons with potting soil and wrapped them in plastic bags, then left them in the sun. Imagine my delight when I found they had sprouted in only a few days!!! Since that fine day, I have taken the plastic bags off and watered them a bit. They are living off that and sunshine (and love?) and they have grown at least an inch!!! The zucchini seeds are amazing me the most, followed closely by the beans. They come right out of that seed and shoot straight up.

The spinach and lettuce are doing well, they are the tall skinny ones growing in abundance. This would be the lettuce worshiping the sun:
Basil is taking his time, and I recently started some dill and nasturtiums which are almost ready to lose their plastic bags. Watching things grow is mind boggling! Right now I am letting them sit by the open patio door, in the wind, to get big and strong and ready to go outside. I am trying to get used to talking to them, because it seems like the right thing to do, but it just isn’t coming naturally yet.

1 comment:

  1. I have since thought, talked, and day dreamed about that apple cake. This is not just a cake, I am not really a cake person, this is something wonderful.