The process started with the sweet short paste. I couldn’t have a tart without a shell. I spent time calculating what 1.5x the pastry recipe would be, if I could use agave instead of sugar (I could), and if I really needed vegetable shortening (I didn’t). I put it into the oven and eight minutes later saw that it had collapsed into a lump of fat and flour.
I felt like that lump: dejected and unloved and unable to be rescued.
I wanted to stamp my feet and throw a tantrum. I ended up only doing one of the two while making the tart. I considered what it would mean to just give up at that moment when I looked in the oven and saw that the sweet short paste had collapsed while pre-baking.
The daunting task of mixing a new batch by hand was not appealing. Why bother with a tarte when I can enjoy the peaches straight and not bother with boiling, peeling, pitting, halving, slicing, and annihilating them.
I was ready to abandon the project. I threw a fit. I cursed the book. I cursed Julia. I cursed the project. I knew that to give up would just fulfill the anxiety I was feeling. While I knew that the recipes would not always result in success, and as unconscionable as it may seem, that I may have to even admit to failing on my first attempt, I didn’t expect to have an issue this early.
I announced that I should have made a soup. What sort of archaic form of torture is it to boil, peel, pit, and slice peaches? Why was it left out that you should first halve and pit the peach before peeling it? Are our digestive systems too delicate for the fiber that the skin provides? With each peach, I uttered a new curse mentally.
A short twenty minutes later, the second sweet short paste was in the oven safe and sound but I still felt annoyed with the baking process and didn’t even care about the results. I peeked in with five minutes to go and saw the miniature version I made of extra paste and peaches looking beautiful, but still felt disappointment with the larger version.
Was it the fact that I wasn’t using an actual tart pan? Had I put in too many peaches? Or too few? I forgot to cover the edges of the crust with tin foil to prevent them from burning and saw that they were browning. I covered them quickly, hoping to prevent further damage.
I remembered the apricot glaze and cursed again. Why do I need to strain preserves? What is the purpose of this? I found the book lacking severely. Julia clearly didn’t have me in mind when writing the recipes. I wanted answers. I wanted to know what purpose things served and if I could substitute or skip them. As I whined and strained, and strained and whined, I took a look in the bowl and saw that the strained preserves simply looked much better than preserves from the jar. I felt as though the book was telling me to have faith, to trust the instructions and know that they will lead me to the right place.
I took both tarts out and felt a bit more excited, but tired from the emotional aspect of cooking. The flavors are right — sweet, but not too sweet, warm and gooey (and even better the next day out of the fridge for breakfast). But there’s too much liquid, maybe too much of the glaze? I think this is where the baking dish comes into play. I shared the tartlet quickly and pushed the events out of my mind while watching Sunday Night Football.