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Recipe Conversion Issues: Fig & Almond Tart

There is a reason this blog is called The Experimental Gourmand. I am not professionally trained, and I make mistakes, from which I try to learn. This week’s recipe attempt definitely proved that again.

I tried the Fig and Almond Tart from July’s issue of BBC’s Olive magazine. Figs are now in season, so I could get the fresh produce that I needed, and the recipe looked simple enough to make. It would also give me a chance to test drive my new mini food processor. [I burned the motor out of the highest setting on my previous one and managed to crack the bowl as well.] Here is a photo of what it should have looked like.

Isn’t that gorgeous? Well, below is what I ended up making. They look slightly different, don’t they? This illustrates a few problems in cooking, especially when translating recipes from metric to U.S. measurements and/or just trying to replicate non-American written recipes in general.

As you can see, the almond filling completely overflowed the puff pastry boundary. My mistake was in not paying closer attention to the size of the pre-bought pastry. In my supermarkets, the standard box of pastry comes two sheets to a box. What I’d failed to take into account until this spillage situation happened was that one of these sheets is not the same weight as the block of puff pastry that is sold in UK supermarkets.

Even though I rolled the pastry to the same size as the recipe required, it was thinner and created less of a “container” for the almond filling which then meant it seeped out of its borders during baking. I also think that the figs that I got my hands on were much smaller than the ones used in the photo shoot version of the recipe.

This also validates one of my favorite kitchen tips which is the use of parchment paper in baking. I’ve been doing this more and more lately since I discovered how useful it is. Even with recipes that I’ve done for years, I find that it is easier to bake with and control the consistency if I line the baking sheets with parchment paper. In this case, it makes it easier to clean up a slightly messy result.

Still, this did not stop me from eating the results, which were delicious and had an extra-hearty almond taste. In honor of my having just seen the movie version of Brideshead Revisited last night, I had a slice of tart with a cup of tea. I’ll be taking the leftovers to work this week, trying to sneak away for an afternoon break.

Buon appetito!

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