Le Cordon Bleu procedure and Eclairs with mango pastry cream

I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and excel sheets come easily to me. Heck, I even make my grocery shopping list in excel. There is something about those cells and tidy rows and columns which makes my brain work.  Perhaps thats why I chose baking. The precision and the technicality in baking allured me. But when I decided to go to culinary school, everyone around me was surprised. Growing up, I was harbouring dreams of becoming a lawyer. Then a journalist. But somewhere along the line, I registered for the CA course and completed it in the shortest possible time. Everybody thought I am an academic kind of a girl. So why go to a baking school? And as my father once pragmatically said, ‘If you want to learn to cook, even your grandmother can teach you that. Why go all the way to Paris?!”

I now know why. Because baking tugged at my heart passionately. I wanted to learn it as a discipline. Wanted to learn it from the masters in an authentic way. Wanted to stay in Paris, learn to bake something in school and then go to a famous local boulangerie or patisserie and taste it. I had to broaden my horizon beyond accounting and taxes and also live through some stories which I could tell my children 20 years from now. I had to do it for myself.

So if there is anyone out there who is thinking of going to a culinary school, this post is for them. If anyone who is from an entirely different walk of life but still enjoys baking, cooking; these next few lines are meant for you. And if you, or your son or daughter has just completed high school and wishes to be a chef, read on.

I have done Basic Patisserie course from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and so I will be telling you about that. I wish to go back for Intermediary and Superior, but maybe after my little baby boy is a couple years older.

Cordon bleu school

For ease, this post is divided into 3 parts :

  1. Application.
  2. Coursework and timings
  3. Paris -where to stay, travelling etc.
  1. Application

Le Cordon bleu has 40 schools in 20 countries, and students from about 70 countries study in LCB. The Paris campus is the oldest one, established in 1895 as a small Parisian cookery school. The Grand Diploma programs form the core curriculum and it is divided in Patisserie and Cuisine. Each of these two branches are further divided into three levels : Basic, Intermediate and Superior. A few of my friends had enrolled for the Grand Diploma,which takes roughly around 1.5 years to complete. Each level is of a 3 months duration. However, Basic and Intermediary levels are available as an Intensive course of 4-5 weeks as well.

It takes minimum 8 weeks for the application to get processed. An application has to be prepared with an application form, valid passport copy, resume, letter of motivation, uniform measurement form and a non-refundable application fee. Then based on your credentials i.e your statement of motivation and CV (resume) an admission jury reviews your application. And then they send a provisional admit, if everything is in order. But don’t worry, I was tremendously helped by the Indian Admissions office right from making the statement of motivation to payment of fees. And so will you be.

Basic qualification requirement is completion of high school and knowledge of French is not essential. However, students have to be well versed in English.

My course was for less than 3 months hence I went of a tourist visa, but for the 3 month courses and upwards, a student visa is required.

There are multiple short courses available too on various campuses. These range from 3 hour to 10 day courses.

2. Coursework

On the first day of school, there is an orientation lecture where you are introduced to the different chefs, the training module and the school itself. We had students from 17 different countries in our batch and I made some very good friends there.

In our intensive class, we had almost 6-9 hours of class daily, 6 days a week. The days were divided into two sessions – Demos and Practicals. Everyday there used to be a demonstration of a technique along with 4 -5 recipes and then in the practical session we made 1-2 things from those demonstrated under the guidance of the chef. Broadly, we learnt how to make Choux Pastry, Puff Pastry, Brioche, Petit Fours, Croissants, Tarts, Meringue and a few genoise and butter cakes. Tempering chocolate, working with sugar, different types of macarons etc was taught in the next levels.

All the demo sessions are conducted in both French and English. The chef speaks in French and a translator simultaneously converts it to English. A sheet of ingredients is provided and we have to write down the method (recipe) in our own words while it is being demonstrated. That sheet will then be used during practical. During demos, there is a huge mirror above the chef’s platform and TV screens display what the chef is doing.

During practicals, the chef is constantly around to help everyone with whatever they are stuck at, and believe me out of the 28-30 things that we made, none of it ever went wrong. For all of the 18 -20 students in our batch.

There is an exam at the end of the course – one written exam and one practical. It is relatively easy if you have been paying attention during the classes. A certificate is awarded at the end of each level and a diploma on completion of all the levels in both the courses.

  1. Staying in Paris

I stayed in Paris with a friend’s friend Danielle and had the most amazing time of my life. Paris is very well connected with the Metro system and although I lived about 40 minutes away from the school, it was very easy to go to school. However, the students association helps with finding a place to stay. I also have a list of flats / studio apartments available of rent given by the school, which are very close to the school. A brokerage is sometimes charged along with the rent.

Air BnB also provides a listing of hostels and apartments and booking can be done before landing in Paris.

Paris has some of the best cookware and bakeware shops apart from being an absolutely beautiful city with so many touristy things to do.

Cordon bleu goodies

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Sorry for such a long post, but I can go on and on. Shaheen of Purple Foodie inspired me to go and pursue my dream. If even one of you decides to go to culinary school based on this or subsequent posts, I will be super happy.

Adios,

Rutvika.

P.S : And as usual you can PM me with whatever questions you have, or leave a comment here and you shall get an answer.

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We were taught Pate A choux or Choux Pastry in the school and it is one of the most versatile doughs I have worked with. This dough puffs up when baked and creates a hollow in the centre which can be filled with anything. The preferred consistency is that of a pastry cream. Presenting here is Eclairs, the elongated fingers of choux pastry and filled with mango pastry cream.

Three mango eclairs

Eclairs with Mango Pastry Cream

What you will need:

Choux Pastry

  • 250 ml water
  • 100 gm salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 150 gm flour
  • 4 whole eggs

Pastry Cream

  • 500 ml milk (300 ml + 200 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 125 gm caster sugar (25 gm + 100 gm)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mango puree
  • 30 gm flour
  • 30 gm cornflour / custard powder

Mango Glaze

  • 1/4 cup mango puree
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

What to do:

Choux pastry making is a technique, but once you master it you can even make it while sleeping. For beginners, it is better to get all the ingredients measured beforehand.

  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. In a vessel, heat water + sugar+ butter. Bring it to a true hard boil. Then take it off heat.
  3. Add all the flour at once to the vessel and mix it in with a spoon, till completely incorporated.
  4. Put it back on heat and continue the drying process. Once you lift the spoon, nothing should stick to it anymore. Thats when you know the choux dough is dry enough and should be taken off heat.
  5. Empty the choux dough into another bowl. (to stop further drying from the latent heat). It should fall in one go.
  6. Add 2 eggs, lightly whisked and incorporate it into the choux dough. Then add the remaining two eggs one at a time, while mixing properly.
  7. Take a pastry bag with F16 pastry tip or any other wide holed tip that you have. Fill it with the dough.
  8. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe uniform length sticks on the parchment paper, leaving one inch space between two eclairs.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or so till the eclairs puff up beautifully.
  10. Now for the pastry cream, take 300 ml of milk in a vessel with a teaspoon of vanilla and simmer over medium heat. Add 25 gms of sugar.
  11. Take the egg yolks in a separate bowl and add rest of the 100 gm sugar. Whisk immediately, or the egg yolks burn (i.e curdle as the sugar absorbs the moisture).
  12. Add custard powder and flour. Whisk well.
  13. Mix remaining cold milk to the egg mixture. Add the mango puree.
  14. Now pour half of the hot milk to this egg+ sugar mixture. Whisk well. Then mix all of this back to the saucepan and immediately whisk it and stir constantly while on heat. Let it come to a rolling boil while whisking continuously and cook further for 30 seconds and take it off heat. You can see that the pastry cream has now thickened.
  15. Put in in a flat plate to cool completely and then refrigerate for half hour if required to cool it down.
  16. Assembly : Once the eclairs have cooled, poke 2-3 holes in the bottom of the eclairs with a pen. Take the pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a smaller tip nozzle and pipe cream into the eclairs in all three holes.
  17. Mix mango puree and confectioners sugar to make the glaze and pipe threads of it over the prepared eclairs for decoration.

Filled mango eclairs

Notes :

  1. The choux pastry dough has to be whisked well to prevent any lumps being formed.
  2. Eclairs should always be poked at the bottom or they will sink if poked on top.
  3. If you feel there are lumps in the pastry cream, you can strain it through a sieve.

Mango eclairs on a board

Those three months and Kiwi Cupcakes with frosting

Last year around this time, I got pregnant. Which means that we were busy doing the hoo-hoos and haa-haas, very enthusiastically. Since then there hasn’t been much hoo or haa, but that’s a different story. (Now I seriously wish that no kids are reading this and neither is my mom or mom-in-law.) But anyway, it is an understatement to say that life has turned upside down since last April.

A few days back I found a letter I had written to myself. Last year this time. I often write letters to myself. Kind of a diary entry, but it works as if I am looking at the issue from a third party point of view. There, in that letter, I was telling myself to take it easy. It had been three months since we were trying to get pregnant and each time I got my periods, I would be immensely depressed. It felt as if I was killing the babies each month. I know how incorrect that statement is. I know. I know. But somewhere it just felt very bad. I would frantically chart my menstrual cycle in various apps and find out the “fertile” days. And coerce my husband into having sex as a rule on those days. Not that he minded it, but I had turned into an obsessive compulsive sexter, for those days of the month. For the first 10 days of the month, I would read up on all websites advising ‘how to get pregnant’ , and then later on obsess over ‘are you pregnant’ type webpages. I would dread each day as my periods got closer and any sign on PMS would make me cry. It was a very taxing time, let me tell ya.

My mom would keep telling me that it takes time, be patient. My husband would say, our bodies are not machines, have faith, it will happen soon. But I felt very low. And it is such a situation that couldnt even be discussed with anyone outside your innermost circle. At that time. To top it, my best-friend, my closest cousin and my sister-in-law : all were pregnant! Not me. Just not me.

I laugh at the insanity of the situation now, it feels stupid to look back at that version of myself, but I still shudder when I remember how I thought the worst was going to happen to us. And I had reached that conclusion in just three little months.

Later, when we registered with the gynaecologist’s hospital for delivery, the nurse excitedly told me that in India, December January is the busiest period in the hospital as it is the best “season” to have a baby. Most couples plan it that way, to have a baby in winter. And I thought to myself – “How the hell do they do that?”. How do they know when they will get pregnant? That answer still eludes me.

But anyway. Now I am hoping that when planning for the second child, I wont be so paranoid. Or I just might be. Because I will soon reach the big 3-0 in a year and half. Sigh.

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And I still don’t bake that often, my little one keeps me on my toes all the time. But these gorgeous kiwis in the market and eventually in the fruit basket made me want to bake. Urgently. And what could be faster than cupcakes?

Kiwi cupcake closeup

Kiwi Cupcakes with Kiwi buttercream frosting

What you will need :

For the cupcakes –

  • 1/3 cup mashed kiwi – about 2 kiwis
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites

For kiwi buttercream –

  • 1 kiwi, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced for decoration

What to do :

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C and line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake paper liners.
  2. Remove the skin of the kiwis and mash it with a fork to make 1/3 cup mashed kiwi. Add milk and vanilla to the mashed kiwi and keep aside.
  3. Sift together flour and baking powder .
  4. In another bowl, cream butter and all the sugar till light.
  5. Add the egg and egg white to butter and incorporate well.
  6. Now alternately add flour mixture and kiwi mixture to the cream butter and eggs. Start and end with dry ingredients i.e flour.
  7. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean and the tops are golden.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely before frosting.
  9. To make the buttercream, cream butter till its light. Add 3-4 tablespoon of mashed kiwi, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Ensure that the mixture is creamy and not watery).
  10. Add vanilla and icing sugar and mix well.
  11. Taste and add some more kiwi or icing sugar as per taste. But add kiwi cautiously or the mixture will get watery.
  12. Decorate the cupcakes with buttercream frosting and half a slice of kiwi.

Kiwi cupcake platter

Strawberry Cream cheese Tart

For three years from the age of 20, I had a rigorous internship or articleship as we called in our Chartered accountancy course, based in my hometown Mumbai. It gave me several opportunities of travel all over India for audit including 2 months in Delhi each year. All of us interns, roughly in the same age group, we used to love it. It meant being away from home at client sponsored fancy hotels and visiting local tourist spots on the weekends. And at that age, partly because of ignorance and partly because of the courage youth provides, I was fearless, unabashed.

Once in Delhi, about 5 years back, in the midst of a very hectic working schedule, we interns needed a break. And all we could do was go for a late night movie post work. Of course our seniors were not happy with the idea, but nevertheless we went for the movie. 11pm to 2 am, in the freezing cold of January. Nothing happened, we were safely back in the hotel and it was just a movie night out.

We were thrilled at how we ignored what the seniors said and went for the movie, came back unscathed. But in hindsight it seems we were so stupid.

I remembered that night after watching the documentary India’s Daughter. That girl was gang raped in Delhi at 8.30 pm in a moving bus. And we were so foolish back then that the three of us walked backed from the movie theatre at goddamn 2 am. Was luck on our side? Yes. That must be the reason we returned safely.

I thought that the documentary was well made and it deserved to be seen, however shameful it makes us feel. A lot has been said and written about it and I have nothing more to add. But it makes me introspect my daily life and those of my friends, sisters and nieces. In this day and age, we women are not safe and it is prudent to be wise and act accordingly.

When I saw all the angst and long discussions about the rape incidents in India, it made me more worried about the short term. In the long term as further awareness gets created, we can hope to reduce such incidences, but for now, what else do we do but be careful? In principle I agree with liberal ideas of I will do what I want, but in reality it is not practical.

Somewhere it makes me sad that my subconscious has accepted the dangers because it means I have less energy or zeal to fight the negative elements. But pragmatism sets in as you grow older and now I want my young sister-in-law staying away from home to be safe. Even if it means she has to curtail her activities. I want my cousin to be conservatively dressed and not attract unwanted attention. At the same time time it makes me genuinely sad that I don’t have the guts to tell them ” Do as you wish, don’t be afraid of nothing in the world”, because the world is not so simple. Life is not in black and white.

In Paris when I used to come back home late from school, I used to get scared while walking back from the metro station, because there used to be a couple of drunkards on the streets and metro station. I once asked my host Danielle, if it was safe, and she replied; “Well just dont be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

That’s what it is. Wherever in the world, take care and dont be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And a little caution never hurts.

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And while the last of strawberries of the season are still in the market, I made this Strawberry Cream-cheese Tart from my blogger friend Saee’s Youtube stream MyJhola. It is a delightful dessert made effortlessly and the video on Youtube explains it very efficiently. I slightly tweaked the recipe to make it a tad bit sweeter and used chopped strawberries for that brilliant red color.

Strawberry tart

Strawberry Creamcheese Tart

What you will need :

  • 12-15 Digestive biscuits
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 225 gms or 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 10-12 strawberries, cleaned and cut into slices

What to do :

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits and mix it with the butter. Pulse in the mixer a couple of times till there are no crumbs.
  2. Lightly butter a 8 inch springfoam pan and spread this mixture on the pan and press gently with your fingers. Refrigerate for half hour till it sets.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the cream cheese and add the strawberry jam and icing sugar.
  4. In another bowl, whip the cream to form soft peaks.
  5. Now carefully fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Take out the biscuit base and fill it with this cheese and cream mixture.
  7. Spread with a layer of sliced strawberries.
  8. Let it set in the fridge for half hour. Serve cold with some mint leaves.

Strawberry cream tart

Persimmon Eggless No-bake cheesecake

Pregnancy Blues

Last Sunday, husband and I were sitting in Kala Ghoda Cafe, having their most delicious rösti and hot chocolate, when a group of girls and boys occupied the adjacent table. They were perhaps 3-4 years younger than us, but in an entirely different zone of life. They were chatting, laughing, constantly getting up to take selfies and creating a hullabaloo in the tiny little cafe. While I was clumsily sitting with my 30 week pregnant belly and thinking out aloud ‘We will never be this wild and free again’. The husband heard it and was alarmed at why was I suddenly feeling this feeling of being trapped. I saw the worried look on his face and assured him how I am fine, and I so want the baby and how it is the correct thing to do and the next stage of life and so on.

Just a day back, at our pregnancy and lamaze class, Fit for Birth, the counsellor had advised us to be on a lookout for pregnancy and postpartum blues. Although I have never been capable of having the dramatized versions of “blues”, I knew I was in that zone.

Now my subconscious knows how badly I want this baby and the two-three months that it took us to get pregnant, I would cry like a baby when I got my periods. But still, now it feels like I have been pregnant forever. It is awesome, let me tell you, this whole thing of making a baby inside me, it makes me feel almost God-like. I am making kidneys, brain, lungs, heart, arms, legs, eyes; you name it, I am making it. So that part is amazing. But it is taking a toll on my senses.

There is a constant feeling of tiredness, fatigue, acidity, it feels as if my body is burning at times and uninterrupted sound sleep at night hasn’t been granted in a long long time. When I look in the mirror I can see a lumpy body, lack-lustre hair, mildly puffy eyes and pimpled cheeks. We haven’t been able to get out of the city in the last 3-4 months and it looks difficult for at least another 5-6 months.I long for that Pineapple daiquiri with strong white rum, and a puff of the clove cigarette Gudang Garam I love and indulge myself in once every two months or so.

Strangely, most of my dresses still fit me, with a stretch over the belly, but it makes me wonder what kind of clothes did I wear pre-pregnancy? (Mental note : I need to re-look at my dressing style once back in shape). And thankfully all my medical stats are on track, so I can manage to do most of my daily stuff uninterrupted, albeit with less energy. But the sheer willpower required to get out of bed every morning, make breakfast, get dressed, go to work, attend pregnancy exercise classes in the evening and stay awake till at least 9.30 pm is exhausting. I long to be me, the one with a zillion times more enthusiasm than now.

When my best friend was pregnant and in her last trimester a couple of months back, I remember her telling me how she too was bored. At that time, I thought, ‘Oh, how could you be bored of this miracle?’. But I hear ye now, and I know exactly how it feels.

On the other hand, or may be on the same lines, I am desperate to see my baby now. I want to hold him/ her in my arms, look at that little face and see how it’s little hands hold on to my finger. But yeah, no sooner than full term. I was born about 6 weeks premature, and my momma had a rough six months nursing me to health. So I better wait and carry the baby in my womb to meetings and movies, and not eject it prematurely.

Perhaps once my mom-in-law is back from the US in 15 days, I would feel relief. Relief from the responsibility of running the house, freedom from worrying if the maid will show up, not being in charge of shopping for groceries and having someone experienced to talk to in the middle of the night if the baby is aggressively kicking.

Well, till then, its time to enjoy the different shades of blue.

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Meanwhile these gorgeous beauties are in the market. Hachiya Persimmons or Amar-phal, they are exotically delicious once fully ripe, but cut them a day earlier and you will be shocked at their astringence.

persimmons

This fruit can be beautifully pureed. Just unplug the green head, cut it into four pieces and puree it in a mixer. Thats it. With the skin.

Opening a persimmon

I made a no-bake low calorie cheesecake with these beauties and it looked gorgeous!

A slice of cheesecake

No-bake Persimmon cheesecake

What you will need :

  • 3 ripe Persimmons (2+1)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 250 gms paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 300 gms hung curd (about 650-700 gms curd)
  • 200 gms Digestive biscuits
  • 60 gms butter (Amul)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 5 tsp Gelatin (4 + 1)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water (1 + 1/2)

First layer of cheesecake

What to do :

  1. Hang 700 gms curd so that the water drains. Roughly it will reduce to half the volume.Take 300 gm of such hung curd.
  2. Break digestive biscuits into a crumbly powder . Soften the butter and mix it with the crumbs to form an even paste. Then cover the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan with it and press down really hard. Refrigerate for an hour till it sets.
  3. Combine the grated hung curd and grated paneer. Add powdered sugar. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix well to remove all clumps. Set aside.
  4. Puree 2 ripe persimmons.
  5. Add 4 tsp gelatin in 1 cup water and keep aside. This process is called blooming.
  6. Prepare a double boiler. Essentially a large utensil to boil water and a smaller utensil which can be placed within. Heat the gelatin-water mix in this double broiler. Do not let it boil. Boiling destroys the thickening capacity of gelatin.
  7. Heat the persimmon puree in a separate bowl. Then add the heated gelatin with the persimmon pure, and take it off heat.
  8. Lightly mix the persimmon and gelatin mixture with the hung curd and paneer mixture, till fully incorporated.
  9. Take out the chilled biscuit pan and pour the cheesecake mix on it. Press evenly and again chill for sometime.To make the persimmon glaze :
    1. Make a puree with 1 persimmon. Put on gentle heat.
    2. Bloom 1 tsp gelatin in ½ cup water and heat over double broiler as earlier.
    3. Add to persimmon puree. Mix well.
    4. Pour over the chilled cheesecake.

    Chill the cheesecake again for an hour, un-mould and serve!

Side view of Persimmon cheesecake

Notes :

  • This is not a very sweet dessert. But the mild tartness of the fruit goes very well with the hung curd and paneer to produce a delicate light dessert.
  • You can add some cinnamon and honey to with the paneer and hung curd to give it a spicy autumn feeling.

Orange Tartlettes with orange cream

Yesterday night I had the strangest of dreams. In that dream, the husband was pregnant and I was the one taking care of him. Naturally, he was the one who was being fussed about, and I had to hold him, comfort him, come up with something tasty whenever he was hungry at the middle of the night, listen to a lot of whining about how his legs hurt, how his back ached and how he got horrible nightmares every night. And even in my dream, I resented it. How very strongly I wanted to be the one who was the centre of attention and heck, I wanted the baby in my belly. I wanted it with me right from the conception. Simple.

It was a long dream, and it dwelled on the cons of that reverse situation. But I will stop the descriptions here as I am sure you get the drift. I don’t want to go through the anguish of it all over again.

Then when I woke up, and realised that it was just a dream, my husband’s arm was protectively placed over me even when we were sleeping, I heaved a sigh of relief and further cozied up to him.

Which made me realise the amazing way in which nature has created men and women. Distinctly. I say that at the sound of being sexist, but that’s the truth. We, as women are made to want certain things, create and nurture in a particular way that is so uniquely ours. True, there has been a transformative trend where the roles of men and women are getting more aligned. Where you hear a Yahoo CEO getting back to work  two weeks after giving birth and conversely Facebook offering 12 weeks of paternity leave to the fathers. But that’s an exception and not the rule.

Even as kids I remember, we girls would make a baby of anything. The water-bottle, the umbrella, a rolled up newspaper, all of it was nothing but a baby that we could sway in our tiny little arms. And dress up our plastic baby dolls, swaddle them and hold them. I am sure as kids we were not being lectured that eventually you will be the ones having a baby and practice learning how to hold a baby. Heck no. But that was a natural instinct. May be, as Freud has said, we were emulating our mothers. Or may be, we are just wired that way. At least a majority of us.

I remember a particular incident when I badly wanted an ‘imported’ baby doll, which had a pacifier in its mouth and would sweetly coo “Momma” when the pacifier was taken out. I had seen it at a friend’s house and described it to my Dad. After realising that I wanted it badly, he got it for me and hid it in a shelf with the pacifier detached. As soon as I stepped into the room I knew from the cooing that it was my doll and I vigorously hugged my dad. When I look back, that day was one of the happiest childhood days of my life. And all for a baby doll! (I had that doll for atleast 10 years, and protected it with my life).

I say and recollect all of this, when the converse of my dream is true. (Thankfully) I am the one who is pregnant and my husband and everybody in the family is fussing over me. True I had severe nausea in the first trimester and now although I have some of my energy back, it constantly feels as if I have run a marathon and now recovering. Simplest girly pleasures of life like putting on a nail-paint is prohibited, and I am not even talking about that glass of wine or an occasional Long Island Ice tea. Taking a two hour flight and going for a food bloggers meet felt like a rigorous regime and I would fall asleep in exactly 30 seconds after lying on the bed.

But it feels like a miracle. I am growing a baby from scratch. I am making a heart, a brain, a nervous system, hands, legs, lungs, and oh, you name it, I can make it! It is liberating as much as restraining, comforting as much distressing. I cant wait to hold my real Momma-cooing baby doll in my arms. Yes I know it will eventually grow up and be an annoying toddler, a terrifying teenager and eventually an independent I-know-it-all adult. But for now, I am happy to think of it as a little baby.

Rutvika


And while those blood oranges are still in the market, I had to make these orange tartlettes which have a beautiful orange flavor and color, without even slightest use of anything synthetic. It’s just the oranges. Don’t believe me? Go make it yourself.

We had done these Tartelettes A L’orange once in school in Le Cordon Bleu, and like everything which works perfectly in the cold Paris weather, and does not in the humid, hot Mumbai weather, these tarts also had to be modified. I will put up the original measurement in the notes for those in cold weather.

Orange tartlette

Tartelettes A L’orange / Orange Tartlets

It makes 2 5-inch tarts and one 8-inch tart . Alternately, it can be used to make three 6-inch tarts.

Sweet Tartlet dough-

  • 75 gms butter, cold
  • 175 gms flour
  • 75 gms powdered sugar
  • 30 gm eggs, lightly whisked (3/4th of an egg)
  • 30 gm ground almonds

What to do :

  1. Cut the butter into small pieces and take it into a bowl. Add the flour and mix it with your hands, crushing the pieces of butter in the flour.
  2. Add the almond powder and sugar. Mix with your fingers.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the whisked egg. Mix it with your index finger.
  4. Then take the mixture on a countertop and knead it. Press the mixture with heel of your palm and push it forward. Repeat till all it comes together to form a smooth dough.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for atleast an hour so that it becomes easier to roll.
  6. Generously butter the tart moulds or any springform pan with softened but not melted butter.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
  8. Prepare a baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Place the buttered tart moulds on the pan.
  9. Roll the dough disk into a round while generously flouring the countertop.
  10. Place the tart mould over the dough and cut it 2-3 cms away from the tart ring.
  11. Pick up the cut dough disk with your rolling pin and place it on the tart mould, floured side up.
  12. Press the dough into the ring so that the sides touch the mould and get pasted. Cut out the excess on top. Repeat the same with the remaining dough and tart moulds.
  13. Bake at 140C for 15-20 minutes till the top becomes golden brown. The sides will release itself since the mould is buttered.
  14. Let it cool completely before un-moulding.

Making the tart dough

For the orange filling –

What you will need :

  • Juice and peel (zest) of two oranges
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 300 gm sugar – divided into 200 gm + 100 gm
  • 21 gms custard powder or cornflour
  • 140 gm butter at room temperature

What to do :

  1. Get all the ingredients measured first before starting, as every next step needs to be done quickly.
  2. Take a saucepan. Add butter and orange juice and zest. Add 200 gm sugar. Put it over heat and let it come to a rolling boil.
  3. Meanwhile, in another bowl, take the egg yolks and add the remaining sugar. Whisk well. Add the custard powder and whisk again.
  4. Add the whole eggs to the egg yolk mixture and whisk till it all comes together.
  5. Then once the mixture in the saucepan is boiling, take it off the heat. Add half of this to the egg mixture and stir well. Then add back this whole egg mixture to the saucepan. And put it on heat.
  6. Whisk while it is on heat for a couple of minutes (2-3), the mixture will start to thicken. Be very careful that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If that happens take it off the heat, stir well and put it back on.
  7. Once sufficiently thickened, take it out in a bowl, let it cool and then refrigerate till cold.

Assembly –

  1. Take the cooled pre-baked tart disks and fill it with the cold orange filling.
  2. Put some zest over the top.
  3. Let it cool and set in the refrigerator before serving.

Orange tartlette piece

Notes :

  • The original recipe calls for 150 gm of flour. So if in a cold dry climate, use 150 gm or 175 as mentioned above.
  • Juice of two oranges is roughly 3/4 cup. But slightly more or less can be added.