Quick Tart

2 March 2014

Mocha Tart with Shortbread Crust | Flour Arrangements

Long ago, I gave up on pie and tart recipes that require prebaked crusts.  Tricks like using pie weights or allowing the crust to rest before baking just never worked for me.  With the exception of this chocolate crust, every time I’ve ever pre-baked a crust, it slumped or buckled miserably, dashing any foolish hope I’d had about serving a fresh fruit tart or banana cream pie.

These luscious sweets are filled only after the crust has cooled, and, once filled, they require no additional baking;  their velvety pastry cream and cool, succulent fruit leave no leeway for workarounds like baking the crust and filling simultaneously. Because of this, I resigned myself to enjoying fresh-fruit tarts prepared by others.

But now, miraculously, I see fresh fruit tarts in my future, all thanks to a shortbread tart crust recipe I discovered while baking a mocha tart recipe from Alice Medrich’s Seriously Bitter Sweet I shudder to think that I nearly passed this recipe over when I noticed that it involved pre-baked crust.

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Imperfect Hearts

12 February 2014

Cardamom Scones | Flour ArrangementsEverywhere I look, I see hearts, pink and red and perfect in their symmetry. No breaks, no bruises, no scars.  In February, it seems, only flawless hearts will do.

But let’s be honest: hearts fracture, hearts break, hearts shatter.   If you tell me your heart beats free of baggage, I’ll call you a liar.

Cardamom Scones | Flour Arrangements

I’m not suggesting that anyone dwell on heartache.  I think, rather, that we should acknowledge heartbreak’s role — albeit a painful one — in shaping who we are.  Our hearts’ scars and imperfections give us empathy and compassion. They teach us how to love.

In honor of scarred hearts, healed or otherwise, I give you heart-shaped cardamom scones.

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Sticky Situation

5 February 2014

Cinnamon-Chocolate Brownies | Flour Arrangments My daughter Eliza eats cinnamon sticks.  Watching her gnaw them down to nothing makes me squeamish;  I always worry that she’ll end up with splinters in her mouth, though she swears this never happens.  Clearly my qualms have made me stingy with the supply in my spice cupboard because Eliza requested her own stash of cinnamon sticks for Christmas this year.

In addition to her affinity for eating bark, Eliza also believes that ground cinnamon improves most foods.  Whenever I’m baking, be it lemon cake or monkey bread, she always asks me to shake in some cinnamon.

Cinnamon-Chocolate Brownies | Flour Arrangments

After telling her that the flavor wasn’t quite right so many times, I asked if she wanted to bake the cinnamon chocolate brownies with chocolate ganache that she loves so much.  She declined, saying that she’d rather create a new recipe because there just aren’t enough recipes that include cinnamon.

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Heart Felt

30 January 2014

Conversation Hearts Cake | Flour Arrangements

I‘ve been thinking about conversation hearts ever since ever since I stumbled across this poem in the sidewalk near the Ferry Building in San Francisco last November:

Candy Hearts Poem

I always stop when I see a bronze poetry plaque embedded in the sidewalk, even when I’m in a hurry. Since these poems fit inside a small square, they’re usually short enough not to slow me down too much (although they typically come in multiples), but they often stay with me for quite some time. In this case, I love how this alphabetical arrangement of conversation hearts tells a story.

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24 January 2014

Lemon-Raspberry Swirl Cake | Flour Arrangements I spent the last five winters in the damp, dark Pacific Northwest.  Every year by January’s end, daydreams about tropical vacations distracted me constantly.  Now that I’m back in California, I miss San Juan Island desperately, but I no longer need to fantasize about balmy weather as January trails into February — I can just go outside.

Last Saturday, we played on the beach in shorts and t-shirts.  On Sunday, we worked up a sweat biking the shore trail to Adventure Playground.  And on the Monday holiday, we headed to San Francisco, where sparkling sunshine warmed our skin as we romped in Golden Gate Park’s awesome playground.

Lemon-Raspberry Swirl Cake | Flour Arrangements

I recognize that this is not actually a healthy state of affairs.  I did grow up here, and I do not recall luxuriating through my winters in consistently fine, fair weather.  I owned raincoats, and I got to wear them.  Since we moved back to the Bay Area last August, it has rained only twice.  Twice!

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