I always have the intention to bake things from scratch and things like kneading dough, whipping cream, piping icing are things I look forward to doing and probably cross my mind every other second of the day (clearly baking is a much more fun activity to do than things like work, taking out the garbage, waiting for the train, walking to work!) I actually don't even mind the fact that after a day's worth of baking something might not even turn out quite right because at the end of the day, you've achieved something and there'll always be someone to tell you you've done a mighty good job of it. I guess it makes you feel good!
So despite good intentions, most of the time I resort to speed baking which is my term for using pre-prepared ingredients and combining them to make a recipe. Take this almond pear tart recipe for example which I thought was rather tasty and earned me several compliments from the friends that helped me eat it.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Roll out 1 pack of Careme shortcrust pastry between sheets of baking paper to 3mm thickness and line a lightly greased 22cm tart ring. Trim the edge, line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove the weights and paper and bake for a further 10 minutes until a light golden brown. Cool
To make the almond filling, place 75g softened butter and 110g caster sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light an creamy. Beat in 1 egg, then fold in 150g almond meal, 2 tbsp flour and 1 1/2 tbsp sherry. Spread the filling over the pastry.
Arrange 1 can of sliced poached pears across the almond filling. Bake the tart for 50 minutes or until golden. Let the tart rest for about 10 minutes before attempting to remove from the tin. Dust with icing sugar. Serve at room temperature.
This tart was hardly any effort and tasted great (and to be quite honest, likely to be better tasting than if I'd made everything from scratch). I served this tart with vanilla ice cream and it worked a treat!