In the face of adversity – I always retreat to the kitchen. Cooking, and more specifically baking, is my favourite form of therapy.
I once met my neighbour in the grocery store and she told me I looked ashen and asked me if I was feeling okay. I’m sure I did look quite pale. I’d just driven my car into the car in front of me at a red light in broad daylight.
It’s a long story and I won’t try to explain myself here but suffice to say it wasn’t quite as straightforwardly stupid as it sounds. But, I was at fault. And I was sobbing. And the police were called. Not one but two police cars arrived. They took one look at me and at the two cars involved – and then told the guy whose car I hit that he was crazy to call the police and was wasting their time and told me they weren’t pressing any charges (I hadn’t even realized that was a possibility) and they sent us both on our way. The younger police officer told me to go straight home. He was very sweet and kind. And quite good-looking too.
I did go straight home. Except for a quick detour into the grocery store. That’s where my neighbour found me ashen-faced, in the baking aisle – stocking my cart with every conceivable thing anyone would ever want to bake with. Chocolate, raisins, pecans, currants, dates, molasses, toffee chips, brown sugar, icing sugar, honey, flour, almonds, whipping cream, butter….
I spent a very happy afternoon in the kitchen and by the time my family arrived home – the house smelt fantastic.
But I don’t reserve cooking or baking just for times of duress. I cook when I’m happy too. Like when my eldest daughter recently came home for the weekend. I made this pressed-crust fruit tart to serve for dessert at Sunday brunch. It’s simple and elegant and even more importantly, delicious.
Pressed-Crust Pear and Plum Tart
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
2-3 ripe pears, washed and sliced, skins on
2 large plums, washed and sliced, skins on
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tbsp lemon juice
whipped cream and or Greek yoghurt to garnish
Heat oven to 350 deg F. Butter a large tart tin – mine is a thing of beauty with a removable base. But use whatever you like. A large glass pie plate would work perfectly well.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Gradually add the flour and salt, stirring to combine. The dough will be somewhat soft. Push the dough into the buttered tart tin with floured hands.
Arrange the fruit in concentric circles or however you like on top of the dough. Press gently into the dough but don’t submerge the fruit.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden.
While the cake is in the oven, gently heat the apricot jam and lemon juice until combined. If the jam is very stiff – you may need to add 1 tbsp of water as well. When you remove the cake from the oven, pour the apricot glaze over the cake and let cool.
Serve with whipped cream and or thick Greek yoghurt.