We’ve lived in our house for almost 9 years. We moved in on Halloween in 2001. A lot of the reason we picked the floor plan that we did was the kitchen. I love my kitchen. It’s set up in a U-shape, with an island in the center. There’s plenty of room for a big kitchen table, too. After living in apartments for quite a few years, it was so nice to have lots of kitchen cabinets, plus lots of shelves in our pantry/laundry room. I’ve always done a lot of cooking and baking, but even with all my stuff, I figured it would take quite a while for me to fill up all of the storage.
Well, this past weekend, I officially ran out of room in the pantry. Well, at least until I came up with a new solution. When we got back from grocery shopping Saturday night, I went to put things away. The problem was, there wasn’t really anywhere to put some of it. Since I do so much baking, I routinely keep extra bags of the most common flours and sugars in reserve. I also have small quantities of a whole bunch of different ingredients that I use less frequently. I didn’t help matters by getting a variety of specialty flours in my first ever KAF order a couple weeks ago. And then there’s the chocolate...especially the assorted chips, both chocolate and otherwise, that were threatening to spill off their shelf. Didn’t leave
So first thing Sunday morning, I headed to Target. (I wanted to go early before they got busy, plus I had some time while cinnamon rolls were proofing.) I came home with six new storage bins, 3 large and 3 small. I was able to organize all my reserve ingredients, as well as a bunch of the chocolate and most of my decorating supplies. (I had no idea I had such a collection of colored sugars until I put them all in one place!). The plastic bins take the spot vacated by my collection of cooking magazines. They used to be stored in magazine boxes there, but after the recent issue with a puddle on the pantry floor, it seemed like a good idea to relocate them to higher ground, away from the washing machine. (We’re still working on a permanent home for them.)
Once everything was neat and organized, I move on to my other Sunday tasks. A bunch of us had plans to get together on Twitter to bake this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen picked the Fold-Over Pear Torte for us to make this week. This recipe required a bit of organizing as well; it's one of the more involved recipes we've made in a while. First you need pie crust. Then you need to fit it into a springform pan. Next there's lots of dicing and mixing of fruit, then mixing of custard filling. Finally, the torte is all assembled and baked.
I went with apples simply because I don’t really like pears. I’m not that excited by the flavor of pears, but what I really dislike is the texture. For lack of a better idea, I made my torte with apples. Instead of the dried apricots, I used dried cranberries, since I thought they’d be a nice complement to the apples, and I skipped the nuts. For the crust, I thought about using Dorie’s recipe, but ended up going with a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that I like. It’s an all butter pastry dough that was originally part of a recipe for a freeform tart. It’s flaky and buttery yet sturdy, so I thought it would hold up well in the torte. For the custard filling, I stuck pretty close to the recipe, with one small change. I used the tablespoon of dark rum and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. In place of the rest of the vanilla and the almond extract, I used a teaspoon and a half of Calvados.
I also wanted to dress things up a little bit. This weekend I picked up some cute mini cutters in fall shapes at Sur la Table. One of them is an apple, which I thought would be perfect for decorating this torte. I cut several apple shapes and several maple leaf shapes out of some scraps of pie dough. I put them on the sheet pan next to the springform pan containing the torte. I brushed them with water and sprinkled them with turbinado sugar. I put the sheet pan in the oven and let everything bake for 15 minutes. Then I carefully transferred the shapes to the top of the torte; the custard had set enough so that they wouldn't sink. I baked my torte for almost 70 minutes, tenting the middle after about 45 minutes so it wouldn't get too brown.
The verdict? The torte was good, but not my favorite. I'm just not that fond of custardy desserts. Gillian enjoyed it a lot, as did Jamie. He commented that he really liked the contrast of textures between the filling and crust. Brianna wasn't a fan, but I'm beginning to think she just doesn't like cooked fruit all that much. I was disappointed that my crust didn't brown more. I think that's because the oven temperature was lower than what I usually use for pie, and the dough doesn't have any sugar in it to aid in browning. (Something to keep in mind for the future.) I'm not sure I'll make this again, but I'm glad I tried it.
If you'd like to try this one for yourself, you can find the recipe on Cakelaw's blog. To see what everyone else did with this recipe, check out this week's Links.