Tarte Meringuee Aux Poires Caramelizees
Thanks to two nights of good sleep and Advil Cold and Sinus, I am almost back to my usual self, sorry to my classmates, I will be talking again!
We made a caramelized pear tart yesterday. I am really starting to get the process of the doughs. COLD butter is key, not really possible in the school kitchen, dice it in small pieces, mix it with your hands into the flour and sugar, trying to make a sand mixture. Add the wet ingredients, mix gently with a finger or spoon. Dump it out on the counter (hoping the previous cuisine class cleaned the counter after working with fish or chicken) and press it out on the counter in small clumps with your palm. Fressage is not a kneading process, more sliding the mixture out on the marble to incorporate the butter without warming it. Hopefully after doing this twice, your dough is homogeneous and you flatten it out on a cold baking sheet and place it in the fridge to cool off for rolling while you work on the filling.
Rolling out dough is an art. I am working on the tossing of the flour so it sprays the granite counter in a very fine layer. Using the right amount of flour is important, you don't want the dough to stick, but too much flour will make the dough dry. The key is moving the dough after EVERY roll, just a quarter turn, sliding the dough in a circle to grab a little more flour from the edges, and roll out one more time. Do this about 15 times, and roll the dough on your pin, and lay over your tart pan.
Caress the edges into the walls and corners very gently and cut off your dough with the rolling pin. Press the edges of the dough up above the rim of the tart ring, as it will contract while baking. Let the tart sit at room temperature for a few minutes to air out, fill and bake until ready.
If you need to make meringue for the filling or topping, get ready for 15 minutes of aerobic activity focusing on upper arms. Whipping stuff by hand is getting old fast. I understand when I can add the sugar, please let me use the Kitchenaid!
PS The chefs use mixers in the demonstration.
I giggle every time someone says, "mine isn't stiff enough yet." I just want to throw out a Michael Scott "That's what she said."
My tart was the second best in the group that Chef W. commented about - I am pretty good at the stiffening, but my piping needs to be more precise. I think my arms were so tired, I just didn't focus on the task enough. I will take more time with it going forward, as the chef reminded us, people buy cakes with their eyes!