October 30, 2010

Photography crisis and the best sweet pastry crust I’ve ever tried

I have been drooling over the gallettes that Jean @Lemons and Anchovies posted about a couple of weeks ago. They looked so perfect! And when I read “This crust was flaky but not greasy and was quite enjoyable to eat even without the filling…” I knew I had to try it. And I’m so glad I did. There is only one way to define this pâte sucrée: THE BEST. It tastes amazing and it’s super easy to make. I’m famous for being able to fail fool-proof recipes but this one is really Sara-proof. So, come on, give it a try! If I succeeded, anybody will!

I used the pâte sucrée to make gallettes, as Jean did. I made them last weekend, which was a very rainy weekend here in Oakland, so I decided to fill them with pastry cream (one of my comfort food desserts; you can find my own recipe here) and pineapple.


And now I’ll get to the second part of this post. It took me a week to blog about these gallettes. I wasn’t really sure whether I should have blogged about them or not. The pictures I took don’t give them justice. And the truth is…I’ve been in a deep photography crisis lately. My new home has an amazing quantity of natural light. It’s a warehouse/loft style with big windows all over. I get light from every angle and also from the roof. This is one of the reasons why I love this home. Heaven for food photography, right? Wrong, at least until now. This whole new setting has been challenging for me. I still haven’t figured out how to deal with it, which one is the best spot in the house to take pictures and how to balance light in my photos.

Let’s not talk about all the props that got broken or lost in the move….I already did not have much, now I feel I need to start all over again with collecting props. Long story short: lately my pictures suck!

The other side of the coin, though, is that this whole new environment is pushing me to re-learn a lot of the photography stuff I’ve been learning so far, to read more, to practice more, to try more. So I guess (I hope!) this will in the end be a very positive learning experience.

I’ve already made three steps. Yesterday I signed up for a photography course. I know people say that all you need is practice but I often feel that I need feedback. I need somebody to look at my pictures, knowing how they were taken, and criticize them. So I decided to take a course to re-learn the basics, because at the end I truly believe that if you don’t master the basics you cannot move on. It would be like trying to make an apple pie without mastering a pie crust recipe! So I will be taking photography class for the next 6 Monday evenings and I will be sharing what I learn (or not) with you all.

The second step was to buy the book Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson and I can already say it’s my new favorite book. I wonder why I didn’t buy it earlier! Even if you do not intend to become a professional photographer, I totally suggest you buy it. It’s an amazing book, written in a very entertaining style and, of course, with breath-taking pictures and wonderful tips!

The third step will be to spend some time this weekend to finish unpacking the few boxes we still kept close, find my props and make an inventory of what I have and do not have. From there I will start building up my new prop collection.

If you guys have any good suggestion for free online courses (or even not free if they really are worth the money!), for any type of resources, for workshop (if you live in the Bay Area) or for any other general tips that do not involve spending $5000, please, let me know. You deserve great pictures and that’s what I am at working hard at giving you in the future.

In the meantime, try these gallettes (they are truly amazing). You can find the recipe directly at Jean’s blog, along with far better pictures than mine.

Have a sweet day!


  1. Sara, I wish I could take photography classes with you (although I don't see anything that needs fixing with these). I'm so jealous that you get a lot of natural light. I have windows and skylights all over my house, too, but we also have eaves that somewhat block the light.

    I love what you did with the pastry crust. Now it's my turn to try your pastry cream and pineapple creation--it sounds so good!

    Thanks so much for the link. I'm so happy that you tried this recipe and that it got your thumbs up. :-)

  2. I think the pictures do it justice...if they don't then it must be even better than it looks, and it already looks great!
    I don't have the $$$ for photo classes these days, nor the time, so I am just reading what I can online and getting tips and playing.

  3. Hey Sara - the photos are great! I downloaded a piece on photography from the Steamy Kitchen. That's where I need to start - that and reading the owner's manual for my camera. Having the time to do that is another story! Take Care, Kate

  4. Sara - these are fantastic photos of your gallettes. I could eat the image itself of the crust! Sometimes we are our own toughest critic. Peterson's book is excellent and one of my favorites too.

    I'm going to have to try Jean's recipe! ;)

  5. You think those pictures need help???? Oh heavens, friend, they're gorgeous and make mine look like I take them in a cave (which I kinda do). At least you have light!! Your crust is so beautiful I feel like I could taste it through the screen.

    Push yourself to get better, but don't diss' how good you already are!

  6. First of all, that galette looks super yummy!

    Second of all, the only photography tips that I can contribute is shoot by a north-facing window. The lighting's supposed to be extra-divine coming from that direction.

    Can't wait to hear all about your photography course!

  7. Those galettes look so incredibly tasty. As for the photography - I think the photos came out wonderful. Nice job!

  8. This looks fabulous to me and I can't wait to try it! I'm always looking for ways to use pineapple in desserts so this caught my attention right away. Do you use fresh pineapple? Do you saute it in butter and brown sugar first? I'm only a novice cook so please excuse my questions. Do you put the pastry cream and pineapple in the uncooked crust and bake like you would for the apple recipe posted on Jean's blog? Yum!! Can't wait to try!!

  9. I have that book too! It's heaven sent :) I'm always learning about photography as well.. I think it's really all about trial and error to get the right light and angles.. not to mention photoshop is always helpful!

  10. Thank you guys for your support (never lacking!) and advice!
    @ Jean: you really don't need photography classes! But at the same time I feel you never finish to learn and that's why I decided to take them.
    @Carolyn: I'm not going to an expensive course! It's at UCBerkeley but I feel that sharing experience with people can't hurt! There are many colleges that have relatively cheap ones.
    @Cristina: this recipe is a keeper. I'm looking forward to see what you come out with using it!
    @Christiane: as I said, I feel you never finish to learn. And in part, yes, I think I'm a very harsh judge of myself.
    @Koci:thanks for the suggestion! I'm trying this for my new post...I just moved the kitties stuff away from the North facing window haha
    @Lisa @ eatgreek @Evan: thanks!
    @Dianna: I used canned pineapple because I did not have fresh ones avaialable. You can use either one. Even with the canned one the gallettes were amazing! I did not do anything at all to the pineapple. I like them just like this, fresh, no butter, no addition. After I cut the crust into round I spread a spoon or two of pastry cream (you can totally use an apricot jam instead...just a thin layer) and then I spread the pineapple slices on top. It really is no work at all for something very yummy. Then you "close" the gallettes lifting the borders and you bake. I'm glad you asked that question. I was not clear at all! Questions are always welcome in this blog :) Now go..and try them...believe me they are fool proof. Let me know!

  11. I was eying up Jean's galettes too! Your look fabulous. And I think your pictures are great. Hope you enjoy your photography class. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Your pics are wonderful, as well as the gallette!
    I need a new camera, and I live in the woods, with hardly any light coming in the widows, because we have a big overhang. I need a lot of help with my photos;)

  13. Sarah, your pictures have always been great...and I'm so jealous of your endless natural light. I have one lousy window that gives me good light for a few hours a day (mostly when I'm not even home!). Regardless...don't beat yourself up so much, you're a great blogger and photographer. We're all still learning as far as I'm concerned.

  14. Nothing against Jean...but I think your photos are already better than hers. Much more personality, attention to detail, light is great.

    And the bit from Wikipedia made me glad that my highest ambition is to eat this and let YOU continue to do research!

  15. Oh honey that's no crisis! Your photos are gorgeous and you wanting to make them even better is lovely. I studied photography as a teenager and blogging is bringing out my inner AV nerd. Thanks for the reading suggestion.

  16. Thank you girls!
    @ Becky @ Stephanie: I'm totally sympathetic for the lack of light. In my previous tiny apartment I had none and it was a struggle! Now I have a lot and it's still a struggle but it's getting better!
    @Kimberly: thanks...that's very sweet of you!
    And watch out guys, i'm starting my photography classes tonight! yuhuuu

  17. flaky goodness! congratulations on the top 9=)

  18. I hope you are going to be in the 11 am photo class, that's the one I'll be in and we can both get tips! Your photos are still lovely regardless. Maybe a sheer over one of the windows and up the exposure on your pc.

  19. I learn something every time I open this photo lesson site. Sign up for the newsletter and it's delivered right to your mail box.


    Keep up the great recipes!

  20. Pineapple galletes, now that is something different. Your pictures are looking pretty already. But i am sure the added classes and practice would make even prettier pics. Bring it ! :)

  21. @Daphe @Gina: thanks!
    @Bonpierce: thanks for the suggestion!
    @crustabakes: I truly believe you never stop learning!

  22. Well your top pic here looks appetizing to me!

    Still, I totally know how you feel. I've been semi-nomadic for almost 2 years now, and boy has it ever been hard to take nice food pics since I always seem to be getting used to new spaces. Being settled does help and you will find your groove. Having a good camera helps too (I need one of those!) and you have that base covered. Here is an excellent blog post on food photography that I found very helpful. :)

  23. Sara, these are your bad pictures?? My best pictures don't look half as good. The galette sounds delicious :)

  24. Thanks for the suggestion Patty!
    Avanika: I'm not saying these are the bad ones but I haven't been very happy with my pics lately. I think there is always something to learn!


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