August 14, 2012

Celebrating 65 Years Of Indian Independence & Julia Child’s 100th Birth Anniversary - A Baked Yogurt Tart (Tarte Au Yaourt) With Fresh Orange & Pistachios, In An Oatmeal Crust

omorrow, India celebrates 65 years of Independence from British occupation. On the eve of Independence all those years ago, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, ““Many years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
And we did. Most of us may not have lived in the years before and around Independence but that should not prevent us from appreciating, remembering and celebrating what our freedom fighters fought for, and gave us. After all, it is so easy to take freedom for granted, when we have never had it taken from us.

Tomorrow also happens to be Julia Child’s 100th birth anniversary. To be very honest, I had never heard of Julia Child until a couple of years back when the Daring Bakers baked her French bread and mine was a colossal disaster!
Julia Child may have changed the way America saw French cooking, but she has had very little influence in the way I cook. However, having read and watched “Julie & Julia” I realised that she was responsible, in a big way, for introducing America to not just French cuisine but also taught a generation of home-cooks to look at cooking and food in an entirely different way.
 While both the book did not impress me much, Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Julia Child in the movie, did much to make me see her differently.  Having been a bit of a “late bloomer” myself in many things including blogging and photography I could identify with her discovery of French cooking and everything that followed later in her life. Her love of cooking and her never-say-die attitude in the kitchen and outside deserves to be celebrated.

There’s only one thing that’s better than baking by yourself and that’s baking with friends. My mates (you can see I’ve been watching a lot of Masterchef Australia) at the Baking Club (Arundati, Arundathi, Arundhati, Nandita and from this month Monika) decided we should bake this one together and it’s been a blast so far. We has stopped baking together in between for a few months since our lives took over but we’re back again. We’ve even been re-christened as the “Sisterhood Of The Travelling Cake Tins”! How’s that for an indication of how much fun we’re having?
So here I am, marking this day with a slight adaptation of one of Julia Child’s recipes. I know Julia said, “If you're afraid of butter, use cream”, but I thought if I used yogurt I could tell myself that I was baking a little healthier.
Of course, as she also said, “Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health. You need to enjoy the good things in life, but you need not overindulge.”

Now that I have a new oven, I have been indulging the baker in me so I decided to continue with the streak a little longer and make Julia’s Baked Yogurt Tart which is a simple yogurt and fresh fruit tart. I adapted her recipe by using her recipe for the filling but with an oatmeal tart base instead. 
The oatmeal crust is something I’ve wanted to try out for a while now. It uses a lot less butter for one thing and this must be the easiest tart/ pie crust there is. You don’t need chilled water, cold butter, be worried about the butter pieces melting or not overworking the dough. You use melted and cooled butter (yes, indeed!) for this crust and just put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them together and press that into your pan. Yup, no rolling or worrying about tears in your pastry!
We don’t get the variety of berries here in India that everyone in Europe and the U.S seem to take for granted and as for stone fruit, the cherry season is over, while peaches and plums keep playing “Hide & Seek” at the market!

I should have planned baking this tart a little better but I didn’t and this morning realised all the fruit I had at home could be summed up into an apple, a pomegranate and 2 oranges! So after much thought, as I wanted the colours of the Indian flag (orange/ saffron, green and white) in my Yogurt Tart, I decided to use oranges and pistachios instead of almonds so that my tart wore the colours of the Indian flag.
I also reduced an egg in the original recipe and made some adjustments in the recipe to make up for this.
Since this tart of Julia’s was taking on a very Indian rebirth, I went a little further and flavoured my yogurt filling with cardamom! With a nice crunchy and reasonably healthy (don’t forget the oatmeal) crust and a somewhat tangy,  creamy and cardamom and orange flavoured filling that’s a lot like cheesecake but a lot lighter and much less richer, this Baked Yogurt Tart of Julia’s is a recipe worth keeping.
I know I changed quite a bit of the original recipe but I’m sure she would have approved. After all I have only been following her advice really – “Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

By the way, PBSare celebrating Julia Child’s 100th birth anniversary with a “Cook For Julia” right through this week and you can join them by cooking any one of Julia Child’s recipes. The deadline to join the party is tomorrow, Julia’s birthday.

Baked Yogurt Tart (Tarte Au Yaourt) With Fresh Orange & Pistachios, In An Oatmeal Crust
(Adapted from Julia Child's recipe and Baking Obsession - Makes one 10” diameter tart, about 12 servings)


For The Oatmeal Crust:

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats (powdered)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100gm butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten, for sealing the dough

For The Orange & Cardamom Yogurt Filling:

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups thick plain yogurt , lightly whisked till smooth
2 to 3 pods cardamom, powdered
1/2 to 1 tsp orange extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp corn-starch + all-purpose flour to make up to 3/4 cup
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Orange slices (from 1 orange)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted pistachios
Mint for garnishing


Make the crust: Lightly butter a 10” tart pan or cake tin with a removable bottom.
In a bowl stir the dry ingredients together and add the melted and cooled butter. Mix till combined and press this evenly into the pan. Chill this for about 20 to 30 minutes to settle dough.
 Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and blind bake at 170C (325F)for about 15 minutes, until it is set and pale golden. Brush the bottom of the crust with the beaten egg, and bake again for another 10 minutes until set and shiny to prevent the crust from becoming soggy. Cool to room temperature.
 Make the filling: In a largish bowl beat the eggs and sugar with a hand held mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, till it is a pale yellow and thickens slightly. Gently fold in the yogurt, orange zest and orange extract.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, powdered cardamom, salt and baking powder and slowly add this, gently folding it into the batter. Pour this filling into the cooled tart crust, upto about 2/3rds full.
Bake the tart at 170C (325F).  After about 25 minutes in the oven, sprinkle the chopped pistachios along the edge of the tart and return to the oven. Bake for a further 10 minutes or so till the top is golden. Transfer to a rack and cool. Unmould the tart and serve chilled or at room temperature. Just before serving, decorate with fresh orange slices and mint.

This tart serves 10 to 12 people.

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Wishing all my Indian friends a happy holiday and a memorable Independence Day!

And the others baked -


Sowmya Karthy said...

Nice tribute to the legend. I made her famous Reine De Saba as a tribute to Julia Child