I used to have a serious fascination with oat porridge when I was a kid, despite the fact that we almost never ate oatmeal at home; and when we do, it’s the quick cooking kind with condensed milk. This is Malaysia in the ’90s after all! But yet the preoccupation with oat porridge was still there, sowed by an innocuous Sesame Street story about Bert and his love for oatmeal which, in my own young life, culminated in a full blown oatmeal obsession extravaganza (!).
Anyway, what I really wanted to say is- I love oatmeal. I love how it’s so creamy and stodgy and oaty and warm..
This oatmeal recipe from Orangette is one notch up from the usual oatmeal. The oats are toasted in a tiny bit of butter before it’s cooked to bring out a lovely, toasty, popcorn-like fragrance. I ate it with a splash of maple syrup and some cherry, rhubarb and apple compote; I like the tartness of the fruit, it balances the stodginess of the oatmeal perfectly.
Baked apple desserts are at the cosiest and warmest of all treats. Butter, apples and sugar always work well together. I browned the butter to bring out its toasty, nutty flavour which complement the almonds in the streusel. I also added a scraped vanilla bean into the apple mixture; I love the little black specks of vanilla- it’s sight is always a promise of something delicious.
For the filling:
90g unsalted butter, browned
1 vanilla bean, beans scraped
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
65g brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon plain flour
110g nibbed almonds
100g chilled butter, cubed
140g self raising flour
40g rolled oats
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
110g demerara sugar
Combine all the ingredients for the apple filling and press tightly into a pie dish or individual ramekins. Make the streusel by whisking together all the dry ingredients, then rubbing in the cold butter until the mixture looks like pebbly sand. Distribute evenly over the apples and press in slightly.
Bake at 180° for approximately 1 hour until the streusel is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Best served with cream or ice-cream.
Dried osmanthus flowers is a chinese medicinal herb that’s believed to have excellent antioxidant properties and, more importantly- it improves complexion! I love the beautiful tiny blossoms, it’s peachy fragrance and delicate bittersweet and floral flavour. I used them to make a simple osmanthus tea and pomegranate jelly sweetened with plenty of honey. I’d recommend more honey than you’d think, the sweetness dials down when the jellies are chilled.
1 tablespoon dried osmanthus flowers (or to taste)
3 tablespoons honey (to taste)
2 1/2 teaspoon gelatin, bloomed in 30ml c0ld water
seeds from 1 small pomegranate
Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and add the osmanthus flowers. Let it steep for 5 minutes then add then honey and gelatin. Divide into small glasses and sprinkle in the pomegranate seeds. Chill in the fridge until set, about 2 hours.
Crème chiboust is crème patissiere lightened with meringue, in this case, italian meringue. It’s light, mousse-like and the least rich of all crèmes. But on the other hand, it’s also one of the sweetest because of the meringue. The chiboust tart is a classic French tart filled with caramelised apples, soft crème chiboust, and a crisp caramelised sugar crust. Calvados gives the apple flavour a boost, but I swapped both the apples and Calvados for pears and Grand Marnier because that’s what I had on hand. Overall a pretty tasty tart, although not one I’d usually choose if I had a choice, haha. I think it’s the burnt sugar and meringue combination, it tastes quite like Baked Alaska which is not my favourite thing. But it’s a fun pastry to make, all the components are easy to make and assemble, and caramelising the sugar is fun/dangerous. It’s usually done with an electric carameliser but it’s not a common piece of equipment to have at home, so I just used a cheap but solid chef’s knife with a wooden handle which I placed directly onto a gas burner to get it red hot (yes, scary!) and then used it to brulée the surface of the chiboust which I had sprinkled with caster sugar. I wouldn’t recommend this technique- it’s pretty (very) dangerous. And sugar catches on fire.. so yea. Lol. Do this at your own risk and open all your windows.
When it comes to desserts, I’ll always go for something super creamy or something super sour. This lime meringue tart is mouth-puckeringly sour and the meringue is soft and sweet. I used pâte brisée for the tart shell because it’s less sweet and more sturdy compared to pâte sucrée. For the final touch, I sprinkled some desiccated coconut on the meringue right before browning it- just for a subtle tropical perfume and a slightly more interesting aesthetic- white on white is always pretty, right? I don’t have a blowtorch yet so I just switched the oven to its “top grill” mode (dunno? it’s the little symbol with the zigzag line) and placed the tarts on the highest shelf closest to the heating element. It browned the meringue very evenly (yay!) and quickly (yay!) so do keep an eye on them and don’t run off to do something else!
The lime curd is super yummy and quick to make, do exactly as you would for lemon curd. I used a recipe from a Japanese/French pastry book but the recipe is pretty standard. I’ve adapted it slightly and included it here; it’s a small amount because I halved it but you can always double it back.
56g lime juice
zest of 1 lime
72g butter, room temperature
Bring a pot of water to boil. Whisk the eggs, lime juice and sugar in a bowl and place it on the pot of boiling water; make sure the bowl is not touching the water. This is called a “bain marie”, ie a double boiler. Keep whisking the egg mixture on the bain marie until it thickens (this will be almost exactly when it hits 80°C, but you don’t need to break out your thermometer for this). Be patient, it will seem very liquid and not at all set but it will jell quite suddenly when it hits the right temperature as the eggs cook and coagulate. When it thickens, remove from the heat immediately and continue whisking to bring down the temperature slightly so it doesn’t continue cooking and scramble (if making a large amount, dunk into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking). Leave to cool until only slightly warm (36°C) then whisk in the butter in three additions. At this point your curd will be thick, luscious and ready to use. This quantity fills about 6-7 7cm tart shells.