Friday, August 28, 2009

A Peach Tarty End to Jhan's Summer

Jhan's summer came to an end last weekend, and we decided to do a major dish last Sunday to commemorate that fact.

As a result, this was one of the first dishes that we planned together from start to finish. I didn't want it to be a hot dish (I'm tired of watching my food get cold) and I didn't want it to be dinner (because I'm hungry at dinner). I wanted something that would just sit there patiently while I photographed it, without wilting, melting, or congealing. Jhan wanted something summery that couldn't be made at other times of the year.

And a peach tart was it.

Peach Tart

The Food (Jhan)

I made a lovely (even if I do say so myself) peach tart last weekend. It was scrumptious!

I love to bake and don't get to do it as often as I would like. Of course, if I was baking all of the time we'd be blimps, and I know that my husband would not be very happy with that, although I also know that he'd still eat every cake or pie or cookie I baked - can't win. Anyway, we found some beautiful peaches at our local natural foods store, and I thought that since I may not have any time to bake anything again until November that I might as well make a tasty tart for our dessert.

You may have guessed that I'm feeling a little bit melancholy about heading back to work, putting an end to lazy summer days hanging about the house in my pajamas, reading the paper, taking a swim, maybe doing a little work in the garden and finally about 5:00 pm looking around the kitchen for something to make for dinner. Really, I'd be bored to death if I did that for months on end but several weeks of loafing can really spoil a person.

Back to the tart- I made the crust with butter, sour cream and flour. The crust is tasty and tender and held up well to an hour plus of baking until the custard was firm. I really loaded the tart shell with peaches which left little room for the custard so even though it didn't overflow when I poured the custard in it did puff up over the sides as it baked. This made for a bit of a hassle in getting it out of the pan but Tony, armed with a turkey skewer - a tool he only recently, and ruefully, discovered (see Stuffed Chicken Breast post) - painstakingly poked around the sides of the tart pan and loosened the sides of the pan just enough to pull it off without a crack or a chip in the crust. Once we had it out of the pan I brushed it with glaze of fresh squeezed orange juice and peach jam. Yum!

The Plating 

Before I shot this, I spent a lot of time on the Internet looking at pictures of peach tarts (warning: be careful when Googling anything with the word 'tart' in it - you might get more than you bargained for).

A lot of the usual type photos came up. I was feeling a bit adventurous for this shoot, so I decided that I wanted some real color contrasts. The opposite of orange is blue or purple, so I decided on a blue background. Well, we don't have any blue sheets, but I did manage to find a couple of blue pillow cases in the linen closet (right, so where are the sheets that go with the pillow cases?).

I also tried a few shots on a white background. Some of those came out OK, but I really liked the ones of the blue pillow cases best. I selected simple flat plates that would handle the full tart as well as a single slice, tossed a whole peach in the background and added a sprig of mint for a touch of green (I'm telling you, that touch of green is my secret weapon).

Peach Tart

The Photography

I know I've complained about the rather weak natural light that manages to find its way into my studio, but right in the middle of the tart shoot we hit the one 30 minute window where the sun actually streams through the door. So I did two lighting set ups - one with strobes and one with only natural light.


Peach tart lighting - Flash
For the first batch of shots,I used a pretty typical three light setup - key behind the food and fills to the front left and right. But I added a twist. I positioned the Vivitar 285 to the right of the food, right at the level of the table and put an 85A orange filter over the flash. Why? Because I wanted to create sort of a faux sunset that would cast warm highlights on the parts of the dish that rose up above the edge of the plates. You can see this warm, but subtle effect in the image below.

I like it.

Peach Tart

Peach tart Lighting - Window
When the sun magically appeared, I turned off the strobes, opened the blinds and got as many shots as I could. It turned out that even with a reflector I needed a touch of fill, so I turned the Vivitar 385 back on a 1/16th power and shot it through the reflector, just to soften the shadows a bit.

The first and second shots in this post were made using natural lighting.

Overall, I think this shoot was a complete success, as most accurately attested to by the fact that the tart only lasted a couple of days.

1 comment:

  1. Seriously Tony, you need to convince Jhan to bake for your co-workers. Something like this would make our Web meetings so much more pleasant.