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I think it’s possible to take for granted the effects of our surroundings. Sometimes it takes us a little while to put together why it is we’re feeling off. I haven’t been baking very much since I came home from Hungary – I baked a hazelnut cake from The Book in November, which I neglected to blog about, and I’ve made a few attempts at whole grain bread, but by and large, I haven’t been motivated to bake. I haven’t been motivated to spend any time in the kitchen at all. There are many reasons why my attention has been elsewhere, and a few of them were huge life changes, but I’ve realized lately that the kitchen in my apartment is one of the least inspiring kitchens I’ve ever come across; dark and cavelike, almost entirely devoid of charm. Still, the rhubarb in the grocery store this week was too good to pass up, and I baked this strawberry tart again:

strawberryrhubarb

I miss baking, and fortunately, I’ll be moving soon. The new house has a kitchen I’ll absolutely want to hang out in, and I can’t wait. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things and to give this space a little bit more love.

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mansikkatorttu

After I lost the photos of that strawberry tart I baked (mentioned here), I decided to bake the whole thing again. Since it was a fairly simple tart/pie recipe, I thought I’d try making it with rhubarb as well after Tyler put in a request for strawberry rhubarb pie. The original pie, made to the recipe’s instructions, was quite delicious. The rhubarb took it to a new level, in my opinion! The original recipe was a little sweet (which is great) but the rhubarb brought in a nice balance in the flavor.


Strawberries and rhubarb, waiting to be made into pie filling.

The recipe for the pie crust is super simple, but I found that both times I made the pie I wished I’d had just a little bit more dough. It seemed on the short side to me.

One other change I made from the written recipe was to bake it for a little bit longer than the 25-30 minutes given in the recipe. The first time I made the pie the crust was still a little bit doughy, but this time around it came out much, much better. It was probably in the oven closer to 35 or 40 minutes.

The great thing about making a recipe more than once is being able to make little changes to your method, so that next time, you always know it’s going to come out even better. I’d call this one a success.

sumarterta

Yesterday was an unseasonably warm and muggy day here in Seattle. It didn’t touch the 113 degrees I heard Los Angeles had, but for Seattle, it was warm-ish and it was really, really humid. It was a blip that felt like summer in the middle of weather that has felt like fall for a few weeks now.

In honor of this meteorological anomaly, I thought I’d try something different. The sumarterta is an Icelandic summer skyr tart, made with skyr and strawberries. It felt like the last day of the year I’d be able to get away with baking a summer tart. And I am so, so glad I did. The sumarterta was both rich and refreshing, and pretty to boot. The tart is made up of a simple tart crust, baked in the oven for about twenty minutes, and filled with a skyr/cream cheese combination and topped with strawberries and sliced almonds.

Skyr, for those who are wondering, is a really thick, tart, strained yogurt, a specialty of Iceland. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but ever since I discovered it earlier this year, it’s been one of my favorite snacks. I used Siggi’s skyr for my sumarterta – half plain and half blueberry flavor. The tart filling is made up of skyr, cream cheese, egg whites, and sugar, and I was afraid if I only used plain skyr it might be a bit too bitter a filling, even combined with the fruit topping. I figured the blueberry skyr would compliment the strawberries nicely without turning the filling too sweet, since the skyr is so tart. And it worked marvelously – the filling by itself tasted a bit like cheesecake (although with a much lighter consistency, more like a heavy mousse), but combined with the tart crust and the fruit and almond topping, it was a little sweeter and tasted as wonderful as it looked.

For the first time, I kept the end product all to myself. I’ll definitely be saving this recipe for next summer…