Today, I quit my job.
I had been working there sine January this year, after IB results came out, in a bid to gain some experience of what it's like working in f&b and to do something productive with my time. It was at one of my favourite cafes, doing the usual service stuff - taking orders, serving coffee, and lots (and lots) of washing.
I guess it was a decision based on various situations and things that have been bugging me for a while. I mean, this job had its fun moments, and I have met a lot of really great people along the way. People that were fun to work with, who looked out for each other and really showed me what it meant to work in a team. It also showed me how much work goes into the day-to-day running of a cafe and especially some of the workings on the back end. Things aren't always as perfect as they seem to be, but I guess that's usually the case for anywhere and anything. I think I was talking to someone once, or I read this from somewhere - passion is actually derived from the word pasi, a latin word that means "suffering", or "enduring". I guess passion and hard work should really go hand in hand, and if you truly have a passion for something, you won't mind going through shit for it. For me, I guess I drew a line as to how much shit I was willing to take. Quitting won't always be a viable option, especially when I enter the workforce upon graduating University, but I shall exercise this freedom while I can.
After talking to a number of baristas and cafe owners for The Local Barista (a website thing I'm working on), I realised how important passion is, but also priorities. I have so much respect for all these people whom I've talked to, because the amount of dedication they have and the amount of effort & hard work put in is simply astounding. To me, they really embody what it means to truly have a passion for something as they didn't just sit on their butts and wait for success to come to them, or for other people to get it for them - they worked to get to where they are today, and they keep going. Honestly, it's awfully inspiring.
With the (somewhat) extra time I have now (or one less commitment), I am going to make the best of all the time I have left! One of my May resolutions was to bake and blog more, so here I am trying to keep to it. The one thing I fear, however, is baking merely for the sake of baking. I remain thankful for the random bursts of inspiration once in a while, or for the baking feels that hit me ever so often, little things that keep me going.
Last night, I felt like baking a tart. I've seen frangipane things going around before, but I was always somewhat confused because frangipane doesn't involve frangipanis (the flower), but it is actually an almond cream! I decided to top it with pears because well, I like the sound of a pear frangipane tart and the other option that I thought of was berries, but I had none at home.
Ah, pears. An all-time favourite fruit of mine.
Tart-making seems so simple, but it feels like there are so many steps that could go wrong along the way. I was so afraid that my pie crust would rise awkwardly as I didn't have the beans to hold them down. I also had to hand-press the pie crust in as I had made the dough the night before, and when I wanted to roll it out the next morning it was solid and taking way too long to thaw. So, I broke little chunks off with my hands and just pressed them in, bit by bit. I was also afraid of the frangipane tasting a bit weird, as I put the cream in the fridge to set a little after making it but every time I checked on it, there seemed to be a little bit of unmixed egg yolk. I would then mix it in and it would all look fine, until I checked on it the next time! Thankfully it baked up alright and more importantly, tasted good!
I'm in a bit of a tart-making mood lately so do hit me up if you're willing to be a tester of tarts :-)
Pear Frangipane Tart
For the crust, recipe adapted from here
- 190g all-purpose flour
- 60g almond flour/ground almonds
- 130g butter, cold and cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
(note: on hindsight i feel like i should have added some sugar (because i substituted the icing sugar in this recipe for almond flour), so do feel free to add that in.)
- Mix the flour and almonds together.
- Using your hands (or a pastry cutter, but I used my hands and it was a lot of fun and turned out great), cut the cubed butter into the flour/almond mixture until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. It should be soft and somewhat crumbly.
- Add in the egg yolk and somewhat knead it into the dough, until completely mixed in.
- Knead the dough a few more times, making sure to absorb up any unmixed bits of flour or almonds along the way. Wrap it in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for at least two hours before baking. I kept mine overnight.
- The next morning, roll it out if you can and line your nine-inch tart pan. OR, you can manually press it in. Poke holes in it with a fork (this process is called docking, apparently) to let the steam out as the crust bakes - bake it for about 20 minutes.
For the pears, recipe from here
- 2o0g pears, any kind, sliced
- 4 cups (950ml) of water
- 225g sugar (i used 180g white, 50g brown)
- juice of 1 lemon
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, sugar and lemon to the boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the pears and let it simmer on medium heat until pears are tender, stirring and turning occasionally. Let the pears cool in the syrup.
For the frangipane, recipe from here
- 90g softened butter
- 60g white sugar
- 75 ground almonds, blanched or unblanched
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 egg + 1 egg white
- a dash of vanilla extract
- Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add in the ground almonds, followed by the cornstarch, egg + egg white, and lastly, vanilla extract. Mixture may look curdled, but it's really just the almonds. Chill in the fridge and stir occasionally (in case of that bit of egg).
Take your pre-baked pie crust out of the oven, and let it cool for a while. About 5 minutes before baking, take your frangipane out of the fridge while you take the pears out of the syrup. Spread the frangipane in an even layer atop the crust, and arrange the pears above that however you like the look of it. Bake for approximately 55 minutes, and let cool.