Oh, hello. And welcome, to my very first real blog post. Ever.
The pressure is on.
For my first post, I wanted to share something special. I wanted it to have some of sort of meaning. Baking is a very important part of my life; it cheers me up when I’m sad, it calms me down when I’m stressed, it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I succeed, and something to laugh at when I fail miserably (trust me… I’ve had some pretty big baking disasters).
So, since this is my first post, I thought I would go back to one of the first recipes I ever succeeded with: my Grandma Cooper’s pie pastry. I grew up in Nova Scotia, and my grandmother lived in Saskatchewan. I’ve always associated baking with her, and can still remember the first time I baked a pie with her. Specifically, I remember how her hands moved with ease as she prepared the delicate pastry, and how with a few quick flicks of her wrist she turned the vents on the top of the pie into stalks of wheat. I was impressed.
Although I did use her recipe, I made a few slight changes. After reading this blog post about pie pastry, I wanted to try using butter instead of the lard that the recipe called for. “Blasphemy!” I thought… but I must say, this substitution yielded delicious results.
Normally I use this recipe for Grandma Cooper’s apple pie, but I wasn’t in the mood to make an apple pie (that will come later, I promise). Besides, my pie plate was dirty from another recipe I’d tested over the weekend. So I decided to make love tarts.
For lack of a better description, “love tarts” are like mini pies (tarts) with a heart shaped piece of pie pastry placed on the top. There’s just something about miniature desserts that I just love. They’re so cute. And delicious. And irresistible. As soon as I got the thought in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I knew that I needed to bake some. Besides, what better way to spend a hot, humid August afternoon than rolling out fickle pie pastry and baking tarts?
Now, because this is also a new blog, I wanted to try something new. Every recipe on this blog is going to feature local ingredients, so I asked myself “What’s in season?” I already had a quart of local strawberries in the fridge, so I just needed to think of something interesting to use with them. Something summery. “Peaches!” I thought. That would be amazing.
Strawberry peach is arguably one of the best fruit combinations ever, but I’d never thought to put them together in a pie (or in this case, in tarts). A quick Google search revealed a number of recipes that used peaches and some combination of berries as a filling so I decided I had to try it. But then I had to ask myself a really stupid question, “Do peaches grow in Nova Scotia?”
The answer is yes, and they’re amazing.
After a quick trip to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market I discovered that Noggins Corner Farm had a bountiful display of fresh, beautiful peaches. So I bought some, and picked up a brick of Scotsburn butter on the way home and got ready to develop my recipe.
So here it is. My very first blog post recipe. I hope you enjoy it.
Strawberry Peach Love Tarts
yields approx. 13 tarts
For the pastry (with my alterations):
2 ½ C flour
½ tbsp salt (I didn’t use all of it)
1 C butter (so many local options to choose from)
1 egg (also, many local options to choose from)
¼ C cold water
1 tsp vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt.
Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse corn meal.
I don’t own a pastry cutter, so I just use two butter knives. I’m all kinds of class.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg.
Gently stir in the egg until it’s just blended. Sprinkle the cold water and vinegar over the mixture.
Stir the mixture just until smooth. Do not over handle the pastry. Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the freezer.
It was really hot when I was baking, so I let it chill for about 2 hours, and as I was rolling out the pastry I kept having to put it back in.
Once chilled, roll out pastry between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper.
Use a circular cookie cutter, cut the pastry out into circular and gently press one into each tart shell. Roll the remaining dough out, and using a heart shaped cookie cutter make one heart per tart.
For the filling (I looked at several recipes, but used this basic AllRecipes version as my guide):
3 C ripe, local peaches (peeled and sliced)
1 C local strawberries (cut up)
¾ C white sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Optional: coarse sugar to sprinkle on top
In a small bowl, mix sugar, flour and cinnamon.
Peel 3 cups of peaches (approx. 6 small peaches) and cut into thin slices.
Cut 1 cup worth of strawberries into thin slices. (Sorry, I lost count. Possibly because I was eating them while I was cutting them. Tsk tsk.)
In a medium bowl, mix peaches and strawberries together. Sprinkle sugar-flour-cinnamon mixture over the peaches and strawberries. Stir and let sit for a few minutes.
Drain some of the juice off the fruit mixture. Spoon the filling into tarts so they are just full. Resist eating any left over fruit filling (if you can, you’re a better person than I am).
Place a pastry heart on top of each tart, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. These will probably spill over while in the oven, so I suggest placing them on a baking sheet. If you want to make clean up easier, you can line it with tin foil. I’m a rebel so I just leave it as is.
Bake for approx. 30 mins. My apartment has a very simple oven, so I check and rotate the tarts every 10 mins to try and keep them even.
Once the tarts are golden, remove them from oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Try to wait until they are cool enough not to burn your mouth to enjoy.
Once semi-cool, enjoy.