Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hazelnut cake; Pear, red onion, and gorgonzola tarte tatin (Waiter, there's something in my ... ); and my oven is broken

I had high hopes.
hazelnut cake

I had big dreams. I ribboned my eggs.
hazelnut cake

Mixed in the ground nuts and flour. Tucked them into their pots.
hazelnut cake

And was totally confused when 10-minute bake time took more than 90. In the back of my mind, I was in denial that my oven did NOT feel like 375. I just swallowed the lump in my throat (not the cake ... not yet, anyway), and turned it out. It was ... rough.
hazelnut cake

But i had a green plate! And jam! The cake's flavor was nice and nutty--not too sweet, but the texture was wrong. The jam saved it from being inedibly dry.
hazelnut cake

And, like a fool, I ignored it, chalking it up to just my messing up the recipe, or some measure or something being off. *sigh* I guess I was too excited about my upcoming pear, red onion, and gorgonzola tarte tatin to let it register that I had a problem ...

I'm just glad the crust came out and the cheese melted. This was my first tarte tatin, but I know the filling didn't caramelize as much as it should have.
pear and onion tarte tatin

Luckily, I'd caramelized the pears and onions in the pan, so it wasn't too crazy. I'd been wanting to make this tart ever since I realized I had a One Windmill Farms red onion I wouldn't enjoy in the raw, and a couple of Yali pears from Maya's Farm that I wanted to use up before they turned.* I wanted to make a tarte tatin because I didn't want to fuss to much with the shell--no parbaking, pricking, rolling, fluting, especially since I have only 6" tart pans, and I didn't want a bunch of little tarts. I almost just mixed up a bake-up cobbler batter, but I didn't want the filling up at the top. I worried about making a tarte tatin because I figured the filling components should be somewhat chunky to account for the longer bake time. I didn't want big chunks of onions in my tart, though. I also wasn't sure about how to add the gorgonzola so that it wouldn't burn. My solution was to caramelize the big chunks of pear in the baking pot (it was a small tart, I had only two pears, so I just used my milk pot) and caramelize the finely sliced red onion in a skillet before tucking them into the spaces around the pears.
pear and onion tarte tatin

To protect the cheese from melting directly onto the pot bottom, I sprinkled the crumbled Gorgonzola on top of the onions and pears, then topped off with the dough.
pear and onion tarte tatin

All the while, I'm preheating my oven to 450. Or, I think I am. I notice that the preheat light was on for a long time, and when I peeked into the oven to feel how hot it was ... it was cold. COLD. COLD COLD COLD. Like my heart. Like my soul. Like my icy glares. I sighed and saw my breath. COLD. I looked at my tarte tatin and saw the dough starting to weeping with me. Desparately, I tried the broiler, and it worked. Oooookaaaaay ... so I broiled my tarte tatin, keeping it covered with foil for part of the time so it wouldn't get too brown. It actually worked. Well ... the crust baked up fine, and the cheese melted, but the filling didn't caramelize nearly as much as I would've liked. Still ...

Mmmm ...
pear and onion tarte tatin

A little tang from the cheese, and teeny bit more from the onions, which were mostly sweet and even smoky, then the sweet, slightly crispy pear, and a buttery, tender, flaky crust. It was really good, and I enjoyed it so much, but there's a part of me that's nagging me to know how it would've turned out if my oven hadn't gone kaput.

Luckily, I'll be at my parents' in California for Thanksgiving, but there's not telling when Frigidaire will send people out to repair my oven. I'd had plans to bake quite a bit this weekend, including the pie-baking crafternoon with a school friend. It was a bummer to cancel it because I was excited to bake a recipe I've long wanted to try. Christmas, then! Even if I have to buy an EZ-Bake Oven (tm)! On tap for the rest of the week before my trip: Skillet meals! ;D

Broiled Tarte Tatin Recipe
Make this tart crust recipe and let the dough rest in the fridge until the next night, when you panic about leaving the tart dough in the fridge for too long instead of just freezing it.

Preheat your broken oven to 450. Bring your tart dough out to warm up a wee bit. As it does, caramelize in butter, in a 1.5 quart milk pan (since you don't own a humorously small tarte tatin skillet):
Two sliced, cored Yali pears, with a sprinkling of sugar to taste, and some salt.

Caramelize in different butter:
One thinly sliced red onion and some basil chiffonade, seasoned with a little salt.

Stuff the red onion slices into the spaces around the pear wedges, which you can attempt to arrange artfully if you're the artful type. Sprinkle between 1/8 and 1/4 of a cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on top of the onions and pears.

Roll your dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. There will be some leftover. If your oven works, you can make a blackberry crostata! If not, stuff the leftover dough in the freezer for later use.

Tuck your dough round over your filling, trying, and maybe not succeeding, in really getting the crust to wrap around the sides of the filling. Oh well.

Glance at the oven and wonder why it's not preheated yet. Open the door and realized that it's cold. COLD COLD COLD. Panic and turn on the broiler. Set a rack to the center of the oven, and shove your tarte tatin. Break a rule and shut the oven door all the way while the broiler is on. Watch your crust brown too quickly in the first few minutes, panic, and cover it with foil. Let it alone for 15 minutes. For the last 3 or four minutes, remove the foil and let it brown a little more. Pull it out and leave to cool while you worry about how icky the tarte tatin might be. Flip it out onto a pretty plate and take a tentative taste. Enjoy. Or not, but pat yourself on the back for trying.

Hmmm. This month's "Waiter, there's something in my ... " is all about tarts. I think this works. Maybe. Or not, but pat yourself on the back for trying!

*I've been to eateries where I'd be turned off by what I saw as pretention by the inclusion of producers' names in the dish's title. Now, I see it as something to be proud of when it comes to supporting local producers. I'll admit--I wouldn't go to a restaurant and be very excited about ordering a Safeway Shipped-In Mixed Salad.

6 comments:

Ann said...

I have a weird oven, too. It's either too hot or not hot enough and just won't hold to temperature. I hate it.

Your pear, onion and gorgonzola tarte tatin looks fabulous!

Julie said...

I thought my oven luck had changed when I bought my condo. I didn't realize that my last apartment's first oven was out of whack until after I'd blackened a roast chicken dinner, burned two French loaves, and destroyed a sheet of blueberry scones. Again, I was in denial that anything might be wrong with my oven. Turns out, it was baking at 30-50 degrees hotter than I'd set it.

Kribha said...

I've had similar experiences too. The oven that I used in my apartment worked a little differnt than the one I have now. It takes time to get used to one. But it was nice to read your frank write-up. I never would have guessed anything wrong if I have not not read thru the post.

Julie said...

Ah, simply getting used to an oven, I can handle. Having one quit on my altogether is almost nightmarish. It's definitely a bummer, but I'll manage. I hope I can get it fixed soon, though!

Ann said...

Julie, I'm in the midst of shopping for a new one. I just can't stand it anymore. Hope you get yours fixed!

Jeanne said...

LOL - I thought it was only in my house where stuff like this happened... Luckily, so far it hasn't happened when I'm making something for a blog event but I'm sure this is only a matter of time ;-)

I must say that even with my fully functional cooker, the first time I made a tarte tatin (also with pears, in fact!) I was too scared to let them caramelise fully - I was convinced they would caramelise all the way through the continuum to carbon. So I also had a slightly under-caramelised topping, but still delicious. I love your combo of flavours!

Thanks for taking part in WTSIM this month - the round-up should appear at the weekend :)