Friday, May 04, 2007

Overcoming Baker's Block

I have been fighting a serious case of baker's block lately. I even forced myself to make a pumpkin cake for a joint blog venture of the worthiest kind (the recipes will be used in a book to benefit needy children), but it did not come out as good as I wished, simply because my heart and mind were not put into it. I had even started to fear that I would not be able to bake any more; luckily the onset of spring did the trick. When I saw the stalls brimming with all colors of fruit, I could not help buying kiwis and blackberries. Then it occured to me that they would look lovely on a tart, and I bought some ready tart shells as well. It is only on rare occasions that I resort to such measures, but this was one such occasion, as I did not know if I would have the energy and motivation to bake tart shells once I was back in my kitchen. The shells were on the hard, cookie-like side, but the ingredient list was not too long; so I decided that they would do. With the end of the strawberries in my fridge that had somehow escaped Rana's attention, I had everything I needed to make fruit tartlets celebrating the arrival of spring.

I wanted the scent of spring flowers in my tartlets. So I drizzled the shells with some violet syrup. I sweetened creme fraiche with raspberry preserves and spooned a teaspoon on each shell. That was just enough to anchor the fruit in place and provide a creamy note contrasting with the crunch of the base. Then I arranged the fruit on top. They looked beautiful whichever way I did it. I wished I had fresh violets to decorate the tartlets, but none were handy; so a glaze with more raspberry preserves and some fresh mint sprigs finished the job.

Then the really fun part started. I forgot how much I enjoyed taking pictures. Spring's bounty is so much that the pictures came out nice, too. Aren't those colors lovely? Of course, I couldn't capture their real beauty, but still...