If you will recall, my pastry anxiety was underpinned by my tumultuous relationship with the egg. Within the simple act of poaching, I managed to produce this:
Disembodied yolk struggles to suppress existential thoughts
… Crack. Egg white drips down the side of the bowl, but miraculously, I am now in possession of two yolks. I work this into the flour and butter sandpit, adding a bit of water (am I adding too much? oh no…). I have now made a pastry ball that looks vaguely authentic, like the ones on TV.
Flattened into the shape of a discus (an appropriate reference as this is a Herculean feat in itself – I’m sure you will agree) I place it in the fridge to chill for three hours. I certainly cannot join in this act of chilling, for my mind is filled with thoughts of whether the mixture’s molecular change will betray me in any way.
It is now time to do battle with the pastry, and this is my weapon:
How satisfying it is to cut my foe of the last three and a half hours into pretty little shapes. Even more satisfying still is the act of placing the little pastry shapes into a muffin tin so that they now look like authentic tart cases, ready to receive a dollop of rhubarb and rose jam.
My jam dolloping euphoria is not to last as I place them in the oven, the realm of uncertainty. The next twenty minutes involves me pacing around the kitchen, squatting in an attempt to peer through the oven window. I’m struck with fear of a soggy bottom or a burnt crust – I am usually one of those unlucky enough to attain negative results on either end of the spectrum. I open the door from time to time, poking and jabbing the tart edges with my hammy finger.
I finally release them from the oven, and carefully prise them out of the the muffin case – I’m surprised that I haven’t broken any yet. I lightly tap their bottoms, which seem to be dry to my relief.
The tarts aren’t perfect, but I am vaguely proud of them (my vague pride takes the visual form of some scattered rose petals). They have fulfilled part of a search for meaning, and I shall carry on rolling the uncertain crust until it becomes certain… whatever that means (I think the need to make pastry metaphors has overshadowed my ability to construct coherent sentences).