Yesterday was our first fall shearing here at Tanglewood. When we got our sheep it was in December so we had missed the fall shearing by a 6-8 weeks (not that you could tell - they looked fully fleeced when they arrived!) This year I was lucky enough to have Laura, our sheep's breeder, offer to come shear our sheep for us in return for "something tasty".
Ooh, I do love a good barter. Something tasty? I can do that.
This was an exciting day in the kitchen for me because I got to taste test some things on someone new and I got to play around with gluten free baking for the first time. I decided to make GF plum and blueberry clafoutis, and hazelnut tarts with GF sweet crust (pâte sucrée). Gluten free is... interesting.
The surprising thing was the tart recipe. I had heard that working with gluten free pastry shells was incredibly difficult and frustrating. I quickly learned that the recipe that I used for my pâte sucrée doesn't like to be as cold as it does when it contains wheat flours. When I chilled it, it quickly became an unyielding mess more like a croquet ball than a ball of dough. I set it on the stove to warm it a bit and when it came to just cooler than room temperature (which you must realize is only about 60-65º in our house) it became workable. It baked beautifully, and had a fairly delicate flake to it, and just like the clafoutis, it refused to budge from it's ban. I did have some luck with the mini-tartlettes that I made in a mini-muffin pan that was non-stick. Apparently if I use butter to grease my pans it gets absorbed into the GF dough. If it's non-stick, it releases fairly well. I've got to remember that.
I just realized I forgot to take photographs of any of the tart stuff. Damn. They were pretty, too.
The sheep were definitely ready for shearing. Brighid was beginning to substitute as a snuggy for the chickens.
The other girls were looking pretty hairy, too, so it was a good thing Laura was able to come get those gorgeous fleeces off of them so that they can start growing their fleeces for the winter.
When Laura arrived I was still finishing up the tarts, so we stood in the kitchen for a while and caught up. As soon as I finished with the work in the kitchen we headed out to the barn to start shearing. Later, during breaks between sheep, we enjoyed hazelnut tarts on the couch and chatted about life. There's nothing like sweets to take one's mind off of aches and pains, flailing hooves and biting wind waiting in the barn.