Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spoilt for choice

I've been baking a lot lately. I mean A LOT, really. One night last week, I made two desserts one after the other. Not because I was craving desserts or anything. Neither was I expecting guests. I just experienced a sudden spurt of baking which lasted five days.

The result: a fridge FULL of desserts.

Good, you'd think? Well, not for a serial midnight snacker (that's me, by the way) who has been trying to shed unwanted pounds for the past 20 years.
Sigh. I wish I had some control over these sudden spurts of baking activity.

Anyways, what's in my fridge? Let's you and me explore.

On the top shelf, in between a small carton of fresh creme and a bottle of jam is a lime tart which I baked four days ago. The tart is the outcome of my  love affair with Nigel Slater. A one-sided affair, of course, because well, he doesn't know I exist. Still, I can deal with the unrequited love, especially when it yields something  truly delicious such as this lime tart (featured in Kitchen Diaries. Read the review here).  

The lime tart is lovely. The crust (flour+butter+icing sugar) is nice and flaky but not brittle -- you can literally hold a wedge (like a slice of pizza) and eat it without it crumbling. The crust is sweetish but not sweet (I hope that's as clear to you as it is to me) and the lime custard is just tart enough to pep you up without making you cringe. Lovely.

Next to the tart, in a small space the size of a fist (not a tiny fist ... more like Rocky Balboa's fist, I think) is a small container with two pieces of Slater's brownies (SEE PIC BELOW ) which I baked about a week ago. A week ago! I think I'll have to finish it off as I type this ... don't want it to go bad in the fridge, right? Ohhhh....

Let's get on with the exploration. On the second shelf is a lemon slice (pictured BELOW). This is courtesy of Martha Stewart , the model-turned-stock broker-turned-domestic diva-turned-author-turned-entrepreneur-turned jailbird. No, she didn't give the recipe to me, per se. She doesn't know I exist either but its from one of her many cookbooks: The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics.

I made this really by accident. Well, because of an accident. As I was re organising my kitchen, I dropped Stewart's cookbook on the floor and when I bent down to pick it up, it was open to this recipe. What could I do but make it, right? I had all the ingredients, after all. It was meant to be.

The slice has a crust too. But, with more flour in the mixture and some baking powder, the texture of Stewart's lemon slice is more cakey compared to the above-mentioned tart. The refreshingly sweet-sour taste of the lemon is unmistakable but not overpowering. It's soft, a little chewy, tangy and sweet.

(In case you're wondering why I have two similar desserts in my fridge, let me explain: I love limes and lemons and basically, anything from the citrus family. I use them for cooking curries and pies but mostly I love them in desserts. A simple lemon flavoured cheesecake is one of my all time favourite cakes. I love lemon shortcakes. Lemon pound cakes. Lemon curd-filled cupcakes. Lime sorbets. Lime sables. ... the list is, quite honestly, endless.)

Now we come to the bottom shelf in my fridge. Wedged in between a jar of homemade vegetable stock, a tub of yoghurt and a bottle of dry yeast are three bars of dark chocolate just waiting for me to melt and mould them into yet another dessert.

While I think of a good way to use the chocolate, I will end this post with the recipe for Slater's lime tart. Look out for the lemon slice recipe soon.

Lime Tart
(adapted from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries)
1.5 cup plain flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
90g butter
1 tbsp cold water
for the filling:
6 large eggs
250g caster sugar
3/4 cup lime juice (from 7 -9 limes)
1/2 cup double cream

Slater starts off his recipe with a stern warning: make sure there are no holes in the crust, he cautions more than once.  He explains why:

"Halfway through baking, I check the tart’s progress only to find the pastry shell empty and the citrus filling forming a lemon-coloured pool on the baking sheet. I pile the whole damn failure into a bowl (and later eat it in secret after everybody has gone) and start again.”

OK. Now on with the recipe.
Sieve the flour and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter (cut into chunks) and mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg yolk and the water. Tip into a mixing bowl and bring the dough together with your hands and shape it into a thick log.
Wrap in greaseproof paper and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Cut thin slices from the log of pastry, then press them into a 23-24cm tart pan with high sides, pressing the pastry gently up the sides and over the base. Don't roll the pastry! It's too fragile for that.

Once again. make certain that there are no holes.

Place a sheet of greaseproof paper into tart case and fill it with beans. Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes. Then, remove the greaseproof paper and bake for 5 mins more until the pastry is dry to the touch.
Turn the oven down to 150C. Finely grate the zest from two of the limes and squeeze enough limes to get 3/4 cups of juice. Mix the eggs and sugar, beating lightly for a few seconds. Don't let it get frothy. Next, stir in the lime juice and cream. Pour through a sieve and stir in the lime zest. Pour into the pre-baked crust and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove while the filling is still a little wobbly... it will get firmer as it cools.

Leave to cool.


  1. Funny lah, Mr Slater's confession that he piled the whole mess up in a bowl and ate it later when no one else was there. :D I'd do that too - hate to see things go to waste (and waist).

    Looks like your baking binges are far worse than mine. What does R think? Haha.

  2. R is worried cos he is slowly getting a belly!!! hahahahahahaha.


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