One of my goals this year is to brush up on my baking skills. It's been a long time since I really got serious about baking. Several years ago after completing numerous Wilton cake decorating courses, I had a little side business baking & decorating cakes, cookies, muffins, and a whole assortment of baked goods for family and friends. When I moved from the Chicago suburbs and into the city, the distance from my solid clientele made it difficult to continue baking. Aside from that, I was so absorbed into learning my new city surroundings to really start building clientele (and I was intimidated that my suburban self couldn't stand up to the baking geniuses of the city!)
But I digress... I want to get back into baking and brushing up on my skills. One way to do that is to join other folks who have that same passion and interest. So this year, I've decided to join a food blogging group, Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD). The TWD group has been baking up a storm for the past year and I'm fortunate to join them and kick off 2009. This group of baking buddies all make the chosen recipe of the week, stemming from the book, Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. This week's recipe was chosen by Dorie Greenspan herself and the recipe is reflected in her blog. I now present my attempt of Dorie's French Pear Tart, featured on pages 368 and 369 of the book...
Overall I was impressed with how easy the recipe was and loved how it came out. I did do a couple things differently from the original recipe...
- I didn't have a tart pan (I sold it at the end of summer as we were preparing for our move to FL that didn't happen)... so I used the next best thing, my springform pan. It worked perfectly despite not having the beautiful fluted edges.
- I used 2 fresh d'anjou pears and poached them with a cinnamon stick and a touch of vanilla paste for additional flavor... and I loved the little specks of vanilla that ended up baking right into the pears.
- I used ground almond meal for the almond cream. I found the almond meal at Trader Joe's and decided to give it a try. It worked beautifully and saved me time too!
- I used vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract in the almond cream too. If you haven't used vanilla paste before, you should give it a try! Although not quite a paste, it's more of a gel consistency and chock full of those vanilla bean flecks we all love. The Spice House carries it, as I'm sure other gourmet food stores do including Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, etc.