As Wit & Delight’s resident baker (as the team has recently coined me), I’m always baking late into the night, trying out new recipes in hopes of bringing in yummy dishes to share with the team. When Artisan Books and Staub recently reached out to see if we’d be interested in receiving Alison Cayne’s first comprehensive cookbook Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School and promoting their giveaway, we jumped at the chance and I eagerly volunteered to take the story. When the new cookbook hit my desk, I immediately flipped to the back of the book to the dessert section. I’ve been itching to bake something in the studio’s newly finished full kitchen and I knew I’d find something yummy in Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School.
Jump on over to Wit & Delight’s Instagram to enter for a chance to win Haven’s Kitchen cookbook and a Straub cast iron pot!
I flipped passed puffy clouds of Pavlova and found the one. A lemon curd tart perfect for dessert on a hot summer night. There was a catch though; I’d never made pastry from scratch. And even if you don’t bake, you know that pastry (pie crusts, tart shells, etc.) can be intimidating. I’ve made plenty of desserts but didn’t bother to make my own pastry. You hear some horror stories about puffy crusts, soggy bottoms, and leaky fillings. No way was I going near any of that. However, Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School made the process seem less intimidating. Each recipe in the book is made for beginner cooks. The directions are clear in each recipe, from pork to homemade whipped cream, and are made to teach you a different lesson.
After reading the recipes for both the lemon curd and the tart crust several times, and thanking my lucky stars that the crust recipe used a food processor instead of a pastry cutter, I dove in.
I started first with the lemon curd. This was to be a lesson in tempering eggs. Eek! I’ve made lemon curd once before but over a double boiler rather than straight in a sauce pan like the recipe calls for. That made me incredibly nervous, but Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School assured me that it would be a snap. I started with my mise en place, measuring, slicing, and grating before doing any actual cooking. Then I crossed my fingers and turned the stove on.
The scary part of the lemon curd, tempering the eggs, comes after heating up the sugar mixture. The purpose of tempering eggs in lemon curd is so they don’t curdle. If you put them into the hot sugar mixture all at once, they would cook immediately. For tempering, you pour a bit of the hot sugar mixture into the eggs while whisking like nobody’s business. This prevents the yolks from cooking. You do this a few times and then put it back on the stove to thicken. This process requires some careful stirring and watching, but once it’s finished, it’s totally worth it. I snuck a little taste of the chilled curd and had to stop myself from another spoonful.
The next item on my to do list for this tart was to make the crust. I approached the counter with a mix of fear and excitement. I thought to myself If this all works out, I’ll be able to make my own pastry crust. How cool is that?! But first I had to actually make it. With the lemon curd cooling in the fridge, I started with mise en place again. Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School’s recipe for tart crust has several tips, one of them being to keep everything super cold when it comes to pastry. I cubed all of the butter and stuck it back in the fridge, warning all of my coworkers that this plate of white cubes was definitely not snacking cheese.
Whipping up the dough in the food processor eased most of my stresses. It came together in no time and smelled amazing. As a pastry newbie, the texture was a bit disorienting. I was expecting a ball of dough that was a bit dry and hard to hold together, given what I’ve read about pie crust. What the food processor gave me though was a ball of dough that looked more like cookie dough than anything. Uh oh. That’s when I did some Googling and was reassured that this was okay. Whew!
After shaping the dough into a disk and allowing it to chill in the fridge, it was rolling time. Another stressful process! It could rip! It could tear! Don’t overwork it! Armed with a french rolling pin (the kind with no handles for better control) I got the day’s aggression out while pounding the disk to half its height. I thought to myself, this is my type of baking! I floured every surface I thought the dough could touch and started rolling. It took patience and breath-holding but after a few minutes and waist covered in flour, 1/4 inch-thick dough laid in front of me. I could actually pull this off.
At one point during the baking of the crust, I sat in a deep squat with my nose to the oven door. Please don’t puff! Please brown evenly! While I didn’t get any puffiness, I did have some shrinkage down the side of the pan. I quickly forgot about that though as soon as I realized that I actually baked a tart shell from scratch. That’s something to call home to Mom about.
Once the crust was cooled, I filled it with the curd and baked so it would set. I crossed my fingers it would jiggle just the right amount. You might have picked up on this, but if you’re looking for a quick recipe that has no room for error, this one isn’t for you! But after lots of oven-watching and 3 hours chilling in the fridge, I had a homemade lemon curd tart ready to be devoured. The funny part is that I didn’t even want a slice. I wanted to flip through Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School for another recipe I could attempt to master. I had a new-found trust in my baking and cooking abilities that knew no bounds. In short, Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School is a cookbook about truly learning and having faith in yourself. After all, the key ingredient in any recipe is confidence (and a pinch of Maldon!).
1 cup sugar
A pinch of fine sea salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 pound plus 4 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
A pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups lemon curd (recipe above), chilled
Giveaway & Prizing Details!
We partnered with Artisan Books and Staub to bring you this exciting giveaway, hop on over to the @Witanddelight_ IG to enter!
The rules of the giveaway: Tell us your favorite summer dessert you can’t wait to bake and tag 3 of your closest friends that appreciate your skills for a chance to win Alison Cayne’s cookbook The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School and a Staub 5.5 qt cast iron pot! The giveaway will run until midnight on Thursday, August 3rd (CST). We will announce the winner (who will be chosen at random) on Friday morning!
Let’s Get Cooking!
One Winner Receives:
Prize ARV = $325. // Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. // Prizing and samples provided by Artisan Books.
Recipes copied directly from The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School by Alison Cayne (Artisan Books).
Images by Wit & Delight and 2nd Truth
BY Francine Thompson - July 31, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.