Goat Cheese Pesto Tart

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished PhotAt the retail shop, the clientele loved this Goat Cheese Pesto Tart.  It is the perfect example of a savory tart and we did many of them.  This Goat Cheese Pesto Tart came from my love of peppers and basil – in this case,  pesto. While I appreciate goat cheese, I find it very astringent and usually cut it with cream cheese to mellow it out as I have done here.  I used this filling for small crostadas which we used as appetizers. We crossed slivers of red and yellow pepper on the top and they made a dazzling display on a tray when passed.  They can be made, as can the tart, ahead and frozen.

For the crostadas, I would freeze them without the peppers on top, adding them after they had been reheated.  I particularly like to use this filling for the crostadas as it didn’t lose it shape when heated.  We would pipe it on with a large star tip. Continue reading

Ten Ways to Become a Better Baker

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Strawberry Rhubarb PieBecoming a better baker is a matter of patience and repetition,  but there are practices that will help speed the process.  Here I have listed some that I hope will help you – even if it is just one thing you may need to work on to become the baker you always wanted to be.

1.  Read the recipe from  start to finish.  Make sure you have all of the ingredients without substituting.

2. The first time you make a new recipe make it exactly as it is written.  It’s fine to change raisins to dried cherries or use dark brown sugar instead of light.  However, if it calls for buttermilk, don’t substitute regular milk.

3. If you want to change the recipe, change one thing at a time.  If you change more than one you will not know which one worked, or didn’t work. Continue reading

Cream Biscuits with Strawberry Balsamic Jam

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished 2In my years of baking and teaching, I have found that people are leery of making piecrust and biscuits.  The one thing both of these usually have in common is cutting in the butter.  How about a recipe for the best biscuits ever with no butter – period.

This has to be the easiest biscuit recipe ever with only 4 ingredients.  Cake flour is used to insure tenderness.  The cream takes the place of butter. When you think of butter, it is only cream that is whipped to a solid state with the liquid being spun out.  So the use of all cream makes perfect sense.

The dough will be a bit wet and that it as it should be.  I learned the traditional way of making biscuits from Shirley Corriher, a biochemist who wrote, Cookwise and Bakewise.  With Shirley being from the south, I can’t imagine a better teacher.  She stressed the importance of the dough being very wet so the steam created in a hot oven would cause the biscuits to expand to great heights. Continue reading

60 Second Brioche

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Fiinished photoThe title, “60 Second Brioche” (pronounced BREE-ohsh) comes from the article title as it appeared in Bon Appetit Magazine.  While it takes a few minutes to prepare the ingredients, it does indeed come together in about sixty seconds in the food processor, making it the fastest brioche around.

In my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”, the theme was to take a basic dough and make 10 to 12 items using that dough. When I first started learning to make the classic doughs I thought it a shame to spend the time to learn them and then use them for just one or two things.  In the Bon Appetit article, they used the 11 recipes I developed for my book and an additional one I developed for them as they wanted an even dozen.

I learned to make many of the traditional French pastries from Andre Gotti, a marvelous French pastry chef.  After I learned the traditional method, I became a consultant to Cuisinart specializing in pastry using the food processor. I modernized many of the traditional French techniques without sacrificing quality. Brioche was among them. Continue reading

Chocolate Strawberry Pie

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Strawberry PieIf you love chocolate covered strawberries this Chocolate Strawberry Pie is the one for you.  Gorgeous looking and delicious, it is a snap to make.

A blind baked pie or tart crust is another basic technique of pastry. Essentially it is a baked crust with no filling in it.   While not difficult,  a few pointers will give you a perfect crust every time. While these pointers will apply to any crust, the one I have used is mine.   I have no idea why it is referred to as blind baked.  So if anyone knows, please tell me.

While we no longer have Big Boy restaurants in my area, I, like Rose Levy Beranbaum, remember their strawberry pie.  I would rather have eaten that than anything else I can remember at the time.  It was a simple pie consisting of a baked pie shell into which fresh strawberries were placed standing up and the whole was covered with a sweet, shiny glaze. I swear I can still taste it. Continue reading