The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.
Rewind to June 1. That was the day I checked what the Daring Bakers challenge was for the month of June. I have already missed a couple of challenges this year and felt like I needed to step it up. Then I read the challenge: Bakewell tart… er, pudding. I have never heard of a bakewell tart. I have never heard of a bakewell pudding either. I felt daunted. There were so many parts and it all seemed a bit much. A little overwhelmed, I walked away from it. I was determined to make it, whatever it was, but I didn’t want to think about it anymore. The month drew on and on, and I checked back as if the challenge was going to change. I must have read this month’s challenge 15 times before doing anything about it. Then this week I decided it was time to get with it (procrastination at its finest).
I made a small batch of strawberry jam on Tuesday. This was a first (grapefruit marmalade being my first foray into the world of jamming). Into a pot went sugar and crushed strawberries, add some heat and the next thing I knew I had four delicious jars of jam (by the way, this jam is fabulous with Dorie Greenspan’s maple-cornmeal biscuits from Baking: From My Home to Yours… if you like to bake and do not own this book, it should be on your wishlist. It is truly the best).
On Wednesday, I made the sweet shortcrust pastry. But then it took me until this morning (the day it was due to be posted) to make the frangipane and put it all together. Frangipane? What the heck is frangipane? I’ve now made a batch of it and I cannot give you a good definition of what it is exactly. But whatever it is, it is delicious. (For those who really want a definition, wikipedia says “Frangipane is used commonly to refer to a filling made from or flavored like almonds”).
After all of the procrastination and skepticism, I have to say these tarts/puddings are delicious. They are so good, they inspired this comment from Dan: “They are like finding the love of your life… almondy deliciousness on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside, perfect inside and out. Delicious.”
My notes from this challenge:
* I made six tartlets instead of a large tart, mostly because of the pans I have to work with (tart pan=no, tartlet pans=yes).
* I wish I had gone with my first instinct to try making ground almonds myself instead of buying it because a small bag from Whole Foods was $9.69. It just seemed expensive for something I’m not sure I’ll use. But I guess now I will have to find uses for it.
* I think I used a little too much jam per tartlet since a couple of them had jam bubble up through the frangipane, but they taste good so I’m not going to worry about it :)
(adapted from Ball Blue Book of Preserving)
1 quart strawberries
3 cups sugar
1. Prep strawberries: wash, drain, remove stems.
2. Crush the strawberries (I used a potato masher).
3. Combine crushed strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
4. Cook rapidly to gelling point. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
5. Remove from heat, ladle into hot jars. Tighten lids.
6. If you are going to process the jars, leave 1/4″ headspace. And process 15 minutes. (Since I only made 4 jars worth, I did not process it this time).
Recipes from the challenge:
Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds
Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).
Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.