Dear Adoring Fans,
Thanks to the magic of selective publishing, you, the reader, are shielded from the occasional culinary misstep here at Scot’s test kitchen. However, I decided that in the name of honesty (and learning from mistakes) I would share this story with you.
This tale begins, as do most good stories, at Whole Foods. I was shopping for a dinner party that night and planning an elaborate menu. For dessert, I wanted to make guava-filled puff pastry pillows. Unfortunately, the grocery store had no guava in any form. So, I decided to make a pear tart instead. Now, I’m not much of a baker (this will become obvious soon). In an attempt to reduce the already day-long prep time for the meal, I chose to buy a pre-made, frozen pie crust for my tart. I grabbed a few pears along with the rest of my groceries and headed home.
I poached the pears in a delicious orange soda, brandy and vanilla bean broth. I pureed some almonds, butter and sugar and spread a creamy layer of the nutt-butter over the crust. I topped the whole thing with the pear slices, meticulously arranged in a sunburst pattern. I par-baked the tart for 15 minutes and let it sit in the oven until we had finished dinner. Then, I turned the heat up to 400 and gave it another 5 minutes to rewarm. It sure looked good, and cooked too!
I presented the tart to my guests with pride, proclaiming in a usually ironic way “You know, I don’t bake much so we’ll see how this turns out,” thinking confidently that it would be a masterpiece. One cut into the tart and I knew something was wrong. The bottom of the crust was wet and doughy! The entire dessert was totally undercooked – a lot. Luckily, my guests were very polite and ate their puddle of tart with a smile on their faces. Meanwhile, I wanted to crawl into the oven and finish my baking.
I learned a few lessons from this evening. First, it never hurts to practice a dish before serving it to guests. Second, if you are going to wing it for company, make sure they’re really good company. And finally, always make sure your tart is baked before serving!