Note to self: never try to bake at 4am after stewing in tears and anger for an hour. What ought to be an easy jam tart featuring toasty cornmeal, crumbly buttery crust, and puckery sweet homemade plum jam turned into late night oven scrubbing. Trust me, it was not fun. Far from it.
The evening began well enough with the carefully prepared dough chilling in the fridge. The press-in-pan cornmeal dough was well-behaved and I emptied two jars of red plum jam into the tart pan. I neatly sliced that fat little log of dough into circles and they lined the top of the tart in an attractive pattern. Somewhere between that and the tart baking in the oven, I received an upsetting email which made me furious and sad and hurt and everything in between.
When I finally collected myself, the tart started to smell really nice in the oven and I knew it would be ready soon. I slid the pan from the oven shelf and checked for doneness.
And then it tipped.
And pieces of dough jumped onto the oven floor.
And half the hot bubbly jam spilled from tart to every crevice.
I hesitated between rescuing my masterpiece and rocking on the kitchen floor in fetal position. Lucky for me, common sense reigned and I set the half-baked tart upright. I was on autopilot and cleaned up the mess. The inside of the oven was scorching hot yet my hands did not feel much burning sensation. It was almost an out-of-body experience.
I looked at the clock and it was close to 5 when I finally wiped everything clean. I turned on the oven again, braced myself for possible smoke alarm, and finished baking the tart. It was no longer picture-perfect but life must go on. We all make do with the challenges that life throws at us. When we emerge from the other side, we may not be shiny and new like we hope. But with a little camouflage, we can still face the world with a brave face.
I took a wistful bite. The tart indeed tasted wonderful like David Lebovitz promised in the recipe. Like everything I do in life, I put in my best effort. This tart was no exception. It was much more than the 60 minutes I invested last night that ended in an unexpected mishap. The homemade plum jam was made last summer to capture the taste of red plums at their seasonal best. I am who I am today not because of what happened in the last two weeks. It is the result of years of distillation, embracing life, embracing my values. I looked in the mirror this morning and was seriously unimpressed by my puffy eyes from all the tears. Today, I may not look terribly attractive. But deep down inside, I know that the sweetness is still there just waiting for the right opportunity to shine again. That day will come.
(Originally published at Dessert By Candy)
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