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A Cookbook for Bakers: La Tartine Gourmande + A Summer Fruit Custard Recipe

La Tartine Gourmande, by Boston-based food writer, blogger and photographer Béatrice Peltre, was released earlier this year, but that recipe for apricot tartlets with honey, almonds and olive oil looks pretty perfect for summer. And heaven knows we could all use a quick raspberry-lime-coconut custard recipe right about now (get the recipe after the jump).

Keep in mind this is not a baking book, as half the recipes are for savory items. But much as that caramelized cherry tomato, zucchini and goat cheese "clafloutis" sounds great for lunch, Peltre is clearly a baker.

And not just because she names her savory dishes after desserts (that "mille-feuille of shrimp, grapefruit and avocado" appetizer also looks pretty fantastic). Nor because Peltre is an incredibly talented photographer, and artfully styling and photographing food is a skill with obvious parallels in the pastry kitchen.

Because, at least in part, due to circumstantial baking luck: Peltre's mother taught her to bake, and she says her husband has a sweet tooth as adventurous as her own. She also clearly has spent plenty of baking hours in the kitchen.

Ideally, I start my day baking a cake. A homey, comforting, rustic, everyday cake.... There are also the nights when I turn the kitchen into a mess just after cleaning it -- have you ever noticed how quickly this happens? It's easy to find reasons to justify the sudden urge. 'C'est thérapeurtique" (It's therapeutic.). It'll help me fall asleep.' These are the thing I tell [my husband] when he stares at me with a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-it's-midnight kind of look on his face.

The rustic French pastries with a delicate touch hint at Peltre's childhood in northeastern France (apricot tartlets with honey, almonds and olive oil, brown butter pistachio-poppy seed financiers, apple-pear verrines). There are also tributes to her Irish husband's heritage (rice pudding with strawberries and lemongrass, chocolate chunk tahini cookies) and her years of upside-down cranberry-olive oil cake discovery in the United States.

Peltre divides the desserts into more practical weeknight versus celebratory chapters. As she says, "Desserts are to a meal what a dress is to a woman. They should fit for every occasion."

Indeed. And so those "French Childhood Memories" (chocolate-almond plum cake, petits pots de crème with cardamom) are in one section, "A Love for Fruit" (blackberry tartlets with vanilla mascarpone cream, apple-rhubarb-strawberry nut crumble) in another. You'll also find "Everyday Baking" recipes (banana-chocolate-hazelnut muffins, buckwheat-almond-chocolate cake) and "Beautiful and Irresistible Desserts" (strawberry-raspberry Charlotte, rhubarb mousse fraisier) for those high-heel sort of moments.

Yes, at this point, we're wondering why Peltre didn't simply write a baking book, too. No matter. Until then, we'll be making this easy, fruity summer custard.

Raspberry, Lime and Coconut Milk Creams

From: La Tartine Gourmande by Béatrice Peltre

Note: Blond cane sugar is also sold under the names "unrefined sugar" or "crystallized cane juice." You can substitute regular white sugar.

Makes: 4 servings

Unsalted butter, for the ramekins

7 oz (200 g) raspberries

2 large eggs

1/3 cup (80g; 2 ¾ oz.) blond cane sugar

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 organic lime

1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup (235 ml) unsweetened coconut milk

2 tablespoons almond meal

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Confectioner's sugar, to dust (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

2. Butter 4 glasses (such as small 1-cup water glasses) or ramekins and arrange three-quarters of the raspberries in the bottoms of them.

3. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until well incorporated. Stir in the lime zest and juice, the melted butter, and coconut milk. Beat in the almond meal and cornstarch. Divide this lime cream among the glasses and ad the rest of the raspberries.

4. Place the creams in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the flan is set. Let cool and serve at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar, if using.


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