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Amparo Bertram

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08:56 am: Dinner date with a tart
As I mentioned previously, I decided to try a cooking experiment to make biwa tarts. The biwa (called loquat in English) is a small, yellow fruit about the size of an apricot. (Closeup) The peel comes off easily, rather like a banana. I had never eaten one before, but they are apparently in season, so I picked some up.

I had a recipe for biwa tarts...not in one of my many cookbooks, to be honest, but in a manga called Tsukuyomitei no Shujin about a chef at a small restaurant. I picked up the necessary ingredients yesterday and set about baking.

* * *
125g Butter
100g Powdered sugar
1 pinch Salt
1 Egg
250g Flour

Add the sugar and salt to the butter in about 2-3 stages and cream together. Beat the egg and add it to the creamed mixture in 2-3 stages. Add 1/3 of the flour and blend well, then add the remaining flour and mix until a dough is formed. Mold the dough into a flat circle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
* * *

The crust went pretty easily. In fact, the hardest part there was trying to measure everything in grams. The next step was peeling and removing the seeds from all the biwa. It wasn't hard, but since they're so small, it took nearly 20 of them. That adds up to a lot of time. They were then stewed in a mixture of wine and sugar.

* * *
400g Biwa (peeled with seeds removed)
300g White wine
150g Sugar
1 pinch Salt
2 Tbs. Cooking liqueur (I used brandy)

Peel the biwa, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Heat remaining ingredients together in a pot until the sugar dissolves, then add the biwa and simmer until soft.
* * *

At that point, it was time to roll out the crust. However, it had taken me so long to peel/seed all the fruit that it was already 9pm. Rather than roll out a bunch of small tart-size pieces, I rushed and used a pie pan, with the extra leftover bits squished together in one of the tart pans. I layered the stewed biwa on the crust like so. Then it was time for the final step.

* * *
200cc Cream
1 Egg
20g Sugar
1 pinch Salt
Small amount of vanilla

Mix custard ingredients together and pour over the fruit. Bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes.
* * *

Putting all the pieces together, it looked like this: Before, After. It tasted rather like stewed peaches in vanilla pudding. I determined that perhaps using a pie pan wasn't the way to go. Though the one cooked in the tart pan solidified nicely, the inside of the one in the pie pan remained slightly runny, like soft-boiled egg. I couldn't cook it longer, though, for fear that the crust would burn.

Besides cooking, I did do one other thing yesterday. In honor of Hanazakari no Kimi-tachi e airing as a drama starting this week, I decided to buy a new VCR. I didn't want to worry about my old one possibly chewing up my tapes, since it had been acting up earlier.

When I went to the electronics store, though, I found that they are phasing out their analog devices. Starting in 2011, there will be no more analog broadcasts. Instead, all devices must come with a digital tuner in order to pick up any signal. The problem with this is that the devices with digital tuners were in the $700-900 range, compared with the analog machines that were more like $100-300. I wasn't about to spend nearly a thousand dollars on a machine I will only use for a few months anyway, so I stuck to the analog section. Sadly, they had very little selection. There were only three VCRs available. (I still agonized over the decision, of course.)

I wound up spending about $200 for a machine that offered both VHS and DVD recording, and picking up a pack of recordable DVDs while I was at it. One of the problems with recording to videotape is that it's hard to ship the tapes back to Michigan. For one thing, they're bulky, and for another, they tend to break in the mail. I'm hoping that if I can record to DVDs it will save me some shipping headaches later.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:mvrdrk
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
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Custard fillings cook from the outside in. Because your pie is bigger around, it takes longer to solidify the custard. If you pie is also deeper, that means even more time for the custard. For pies, you can look at any pumpkin pie or quiche time and temperature as a guide.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
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Do "jelly/syrup" fillings (like an apple or cherry pie) cook from the inside out?
[User Picture]
From:mvrdrk
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
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LOL!!! No. Pretty much everything cooks from the outside in.

Custards in larger pies are notable because the outside is usually nearly done long before the inside has finished setting.

Fruit fillings that depend on starches to thicken them (apple, blueberry, cherry, etc.) are typically cooked at a higher temperature and the entire insides are at a boil, so the middle filling cooks at about the same rate as the filling around the edges. Still, you can tell if you poke carefully, the outer edge filling is typically more well done than the center.
[User Picture]
From:mvrdrk
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
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Ah, the spouse corrects me. Temperatures are approx the same. The difference is that the proteins in custard behave differently than the sugars and starches in fruit pies. I'm going to look in McGee and see exactly what the mechanism is ...
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 2nd, 2007 11:21 am (UTC)
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Well, if I make these again, I will definitely use smaller/shallower pans.
[User Picture]
From:mvrdrk
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
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Ha! I was right! Oven temperatures are similar, but actual cooking temperatures are different.

The proteins in custard solidify at around 185F, much higher than that and the proteins will release the trapped water and will 'weep' which is how you get liquid on the top of things like pumpkin pie. Most baked custards call for water baths, which slows cooking and limits the temperature to 212F, or just below boiling. So custards need to cook for long periods at relatively cool temperatures. Adding a bit of starch (iirc McGee claims 1 tablespoon flour or 2 teaspoons cornstarch/arrowroot per cup of liquid) makes the custard more stable, less likely to weep, and less sensitive to temperature, but also grainy, less smooth, less creamy. It occurs to me that water baths probably also reduce the effect of the outside edges cooking faster than the middle. (I'm going to try that next time I make quiche.)

Egg proteins require positively charged ions to turn into custard, so you can make custard with eggs and milk/cream, or eggs and water and salt, but not eggs and water.

Err, probably more than you wanted to know about egg proteins. Sorry.
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