My instinctual response to any mention of Mary Berry is to immediately begin to pre-heat my oven in preparation for a bake. So, here I am, in the midst of the excitement of the start of the new season of The Great British Bake Off, staging my dramatic return to baking and blogging.
What these Banana and Nutella Baklava lack in sophistication they make up for in joy. The little fellas are so delicious and so easy to make that I have chosen to overlook the ugliness of the photos and share this post anyway.
Cape Town really is magnificent at this time of year, the mountain just about sparkles in the soft-lit blue skies- imploring you to put on some sensible shoes and come outside to “seize the day” : to be honest it’s all really a bit of a bother . Some of us would far prefer to be inside watching back-to-back episodes of Project Runway with a bit of Star Trek mixed in (for balance) than dirtying our hems outdoors. But when Cape Town is behaving in this way it’s difficult not to feel guilty about keeping the curtains drawn- even if you are having a perfectly lovely time in the dark.
The success of this tart, much like a successful living in general, will depend almost entirely on the quality of your cheese and the sweetness of your apples.
Very much unlike life, however, the baking of this tart is a simple endeavour and perfectly suited to the lazy and the cowardly.
Summer is over in Cape Town and that is, in my opinion, very good news. Most things (and especially people) are best not viewed in bright conditions. There is just far too much light around in summer to maintain the illusion that you are attractive and the fantasy that the rest of the world it too. It is with great relief that I welcome the dimming effects of autumn and the general improvement it brings to the experience of looking around (and in the mirror).
This tart, however, speaks well of summer. Brightness, while best avoided as a quality of light, is just what I like in flavours (and what flavour could be brighter than lemon). Some of you might be alarmed by the addition of the basil to a lemon tart. It is, I suppose, an initially disturbing thought. But be assured, skittish baker, that there is nothing pesto-like about this. The basil is a sublte addition and adds a fragant pepperiness that rounds off the lemon to create a layered and exciting experience. Just think of the admiration you will cultivate in your tasters for being so very sophisticated.
A decent menu is always a source of anxiety. To be forced to select one dish and neglect all the others can be a torment. This tart is well suited for those whom, understandably, find themselves indecisive around food: it sits in that magical sweet spot between sweet and savoury, saving you the agonies of at least one decision by generously satisfing both appetites at once. For those with firmer opinions on just what it is they want to eat, the tart can be made more savoury by skimming back on the apple and adding a little potato and crisp pancetta. I would not attempt to make this tart more distinctively sweet. The caramelised onion is essential to it and an onion in a sweet is just unpermissable in any circumstances. Your sweet tooth will be far better served by another recipe.
I am, by some luck, no longer compelled to date. In many ways this is a relief. All that incessant grooming and leaving the flat is a lifestyle that I am pleased to leave behind. My romantic success has, however, come with a cost. All this happiness has comprised my competence both in wit and in the kitchen.
While I’m still a terrible show-off, I am now missing that slight sense of urgency that gives a single woman the edge both in banter and in baking. I was never quite so brilliant as when I was displaying my accomplishments in an effort to attract a suitor. Much of my free time was spent crafting gleaming witticisms for upcoming text messages and equally charming flavour combinations for upcoming dinner dates.
Surely, the finest dinners and the finest dinner conversations must be the work of romantic-hopefuls. The romantically-content could not hope to compete.
My self-esteem is, thankfully, just low enough to have me seek the approval of many more people in addition to my beloved. I still display in an attempt to impress, and this keeps me and my tarts just passable. I am not what I used to be and so I apologise, dear reader, for the quality of the recipe to follow.
I was feeling particularly well loved on the day I made these Rose and Nectarine Tartlets:
- Whatever bit of pastry your can get your hands on. In my case it was a bit of shop bought puff-pastry that due to some scandals of improper storage had lost all its “puff”. Puff-pastry without its puff is, I suppose, short-crust pastry.
- Nectarines sliced and coated in a sprinkling of flour, sugar and a heavy splash or rose water.
If you have no rose water on hand you might try grinding some minced coriander leaf or basil leaf into the sugar as an equally sophisticated substitute.
Arrange coated nectarine slices on top of a bit of pastry ( I used a round pastry cutter to cut mine into large circles) and bake at about 200 degrees Celsius until pastry has browned and the sugar has melted.
I served these with a bit of cream cheese mixed with honey because I had it lying around.
Recommended variations for the slightly less content:
- Use pastry that has not been frightfully abused
- Do an egg wash on the parts of the pastry not covered with pastry
- Garnish with chopped pistachios
- Serve with whipped cream
Variations for those in search of true-love:
- Make your own puff-pastry. (As shown here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/video/2012/jul/09/how-make-puff-pastry-video)
If your pastry has puff you will have to prick holes all over the area on which the nectarine slices lie, to keep that area from puffing up.