Failure and Success

The failure…


Our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group’s kitchens are emitting yeasty smells because this week we are baking Focaccia!

I imagined the warm bread coming out of the oven drizzled with olive oil and generously sprinkled with zaatar (Middle Eastern dried spice made from dried herbs, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt) and I was hoping that:

(a) testing the limits of my Kitchen Aid mixer when mixing the dough
(b) leaving the dough in the fridge for more than 24 hours
(c)  in super glorious Ikea zip lock bags with stripes

would get me a fluffy focaccia, but alas this became my FFF – flat fail focaccia…Two questions remain:

(1) What do I do with the other two bags of dough that are still in the fridge?
(2) What went wrong with this bake?

After the scars from this baking experience heal a bit, I will be giving this recipe another try. Well, maybe…


A coincidence or not that happened on the last day of the Canadian Penny.

Please visit Sharmini of Wandering Through to see how actually the focaccia should look like!

The success…

French Apple Tart

I am so glad pies and tarts have their different nuances! Pies are flaky and crispy. Tarts are crumbly, tender, and buttery.

The French Apple Tart that our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group baked on January 22, 2013 was by the contributing baker Leslie Mackie. I did not have a chance to bake the tart earlier, so I am trying to catch up with this recipe today.

The French Apple Tart recipe uses a traditional pie dough that is filled with oven baked and pureed apples and topped with a stunning apple rosette.

Since I rather prefer crumbly to flaky crusts made with shortening, I used Pierre Hermé’s Sweet Tart Dough. I baked his Nutella Tart using this dough recently and it was indeed perfect! As a matter of fact, this is how he calls it – Perfect Tart Dough!

After the Pierre Hermé’s perfect tart crust was baked and chilled, I filled it with the apple compote. I used one generous teaspoon of cinnamon and substituted the bread crumbs in the filling with ½ a cup of quick cooking oats. Arranging the rosette on top of the tart was fun and challenging. There were some apple rosette shrinkage, but nothing a superior taste can’t fix!


If you would like to learn how to do an apple rosette, please visit Law of the Kitchen who was the host for the recipe.

Pierre Hermé’s Sweet Tart Dough

Adapted from Desserts by Pierre Hermé by Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan


Note: These ingredients are sufficient for three 10-inch tarts or four 9-inch tarts.

10 oz (285 g), unsalted butter at room temperature
150 g (1 ½ cups) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
100 g (1/2 cup) finely ground blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean pulp or pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
490 g (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until creamy.
  2. Add the sugar and mix.
  3. Add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla pulp and mix.
  4. Add the eggs and mix.
  5. With the mixer still on low, add the flour in three additions.
  6. Mix until the ingredients form a soft and pliable dough that holds together. Do not overmix.
  7. Divide the dough into balls and wrap each ball in plastic, gently pressing each ball into a disk.
  8. Allow the dough to rest for at least 4 hours and for up to 2 days.
  9. If you are not planning on using all the dough, it freezes very well up to a month.
  10. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle.
  11. Butter a tart pan with a removable bottom and transfer the rolled dough to the tart pan.
  12. Prick the crust all over and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  13. To bake the crust, preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and position the rack in the middle. Line each crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (I use rice). If your tart pan is dark-colored like mine, preheat your oven to 325F.
  14. To partially bake, bake the crust for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and foil. Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  15. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the crust to completely cool before you fill it in.


15 thoughts on “Failure and Success

  1. Your French Apple Tart looks absolutely stunning ! And your Focaccia that you sprinkled with zaatar does looks delicious even if you did not get quite the rise that you thought you should have – this Italain bread works in many ways and I would really have liked to taste a piece with that intriguing Middle Eastern spice mix that you used.
    Have a great Tuesday!

  2. Your focaccia does look good, even though it´s not tall. I would still bake the remaining doughs, or turn them into pizzas. That pie looks incredible! I´m pinning the dough recipe.

  3. Cher says:

    Your tart is beautiful.
    I am sure your foccacia is still very tasty, even though you didn’t get the rise you like. It looks beautiful.
    I left my dough a wetter than the recipe called for – I think the extra moisture makes for a higher rising dough (I also skipped the last folding and the slashing – dimpled instead – and let the dough final rise in a 9×13 pan so that I didn’t have to transfer it and risk losing height)

  4. Lauren says:

    My dough flattened just like yours. For my other dough blobs I skipped the re-shaping and slashing and just let it rest out of the fridge then baked it as it. That one baked up much more nicely.

  5. Sara says:

    My focaccia didn’t come out very well either – but yours still looks good! And I like the idea of topping it with zaatar. I imagine that would give it a very nice flavor. Glad the tart went better for you – it looks beautiful!

  6. smarkies says:

    Sorry that the focaccia did not turn out how you would have liked it. However, it does look good.
    That pie looks great! I struggled with that the last time. Wish I could master pastry.

  7. Mel says:

    Your foccacia looks good, I ‘m sorry it didn’t turn as you would like.
    To answer your question, I used bread flour, in France we call it : T65.
    Do not give up, I’m sure the next time you will get the result you want!!

  8. Tammy says:

    Maybe the yeast failed? Ie, maybe it was never as foamy as it needed to be on that first step? Apologies if I’m over-simplifying. At least the tart looks great!

  9. SandraM says:

    Your focaccia does look good. You should make pizza with the other two bags of dough. It was be really good like that.
    It is so weird to not have pennies now. I was just at the grocery store and what I bought came to $10.02 and she didn’t want the two cents!

  10. saucygander says:

    Thanks for Hermè recipe! Your focaccia looks good, I think dimpling keeps more air in, and spritzing more water keeps the crust soft for that final ‘spring’ in the oven. Would either idea help?

  11. Cindy Harris says:

    Since I’m way behind on my TWD posts I think I will go with the Apple Tart–yummy!

  12. Loved your French apple tart, which we still have to make. In regards to the focaccia, please keep in mind that it is a traditional flat bread, and will never be as pillowy as a sandwich bread. Would love to try the seasoning you chose for a topping, it sounds like an interesting combination of flavors.

  13. Your apple tart is beautiful! What a really great idea to use za’ atar for your topping! I had forgotten all about that mixture. Love it on baked pita with olive oil. Yum! So many factors affect breads. Could be older yeast or too much humidity and cold. I never know how things are going to turn out when I bake. Well, I am sure it tasted great regardless!

  14. Cathleen says:

    I heard about the Canadian penny becoming absolete! How do you handle change? Do stores round up or down? Sorry your focaccia did not turn out – it still looks tasty. I can see you had success with the apple tart – beautiful!

  15. Beth says:

    I totally agree with your preference for crumbly, sweet tart dough instead of the flaky dough! I am of no help when it comes to dough rising properly…I’m always surprised when mine does rise. But you had a great idea with using za’atar as your topping – sounds delish!

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