Hesser vs. Sucrée

I better figure out this tart crust dilemma quickly. I’ve volunteered to bake 24 tarts for our neighborhood bake sale next Saturday. Last night, regrettably, the Hesser and Sucrée battle ended, as I was afraid it would, without a clear victor.

The Hesser tart crumbled next to the very durable pate sucrée, but the sweet-savory taste and distinctive texture were far superior. The sucrée was overly sweet, yet bland and insipid – it could be any crust from any tart, but I’m convinced it could weather a 5” drop unscathed. Am I overreaching? I’ve scraped and eaten too many fillings, leaving the lackluster crust behind – and I don’t want my tarts to endure the same fate. I’m vainly searching for a formidable shell that can withstand the rigors of restaurant plating (and neighborhood bake sales) with a flavor worth devouring to the very last crumb.

Almond Tart Comparison

Almond Tart Comparison

Late last night, after the failed attempts above, I made another batch of Hesser’s with an added egg and pate sucrée with 1 oz of oil substituted for some of the butter, combining a little of each in the other. Both were better, but a winner is still eluding me. Maybe my best route is to make one of each and mash ‘em together.

I must find the ideal crust. Not yet defeated, but feeling the results of my quandary in the tightening waistband of my shorts, I recall my Culinary School sucrée recipe, substituting sugar for powdered sugar. That recipe – along with another ideation of Hesser’s – is my homework for tonight. Wish me luck – or a mash-up, it may have to be.

Where is my pastry fairy godmother to save me?



Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

A baking obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing – unless you’re compelled to sample each of your creations. Then, it can be detrimental, indeed. In the last 12 hours, I’ve managed to bake and devour two lemon tarts, one coconut tart, one and a half plum tarts and two apple tarts – all with the wrong crust.

I commanded myself to put the tarts aside today, step outside, run errands, exercise, get some sun, leaving the crust dilemma for another day. Instead, I’m on my second crust recipe today without any desire to step outside. Yesterday, I was using a version of Amanda Hesser’s no roll pie crust. I erroneously thought substituting heavy cream for the milk would result in a richer crust, but my attempts crumbled in my fingers.  Now, after re-referring to Gisslen’s Profession Baking, I’m convinced that my “improvement” was my downfall. Flour needs liquid to create that much maligned pastry glue, gluten, to hold it all together. I’ve moved back to her crust as written and I really love the crumbly texture, but I don’t know if it will hold up to the fumbling hands of 18 year old culinary school interns at the Steakhouse.  Next up – side by side comparisons of Amanda’s crust and Pate Sucree.