Woohoo! It's the 27th, which means two things. First, we've finally started moving things to our new apartment. (I'm soo sick of boxes, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and Craigslist--probably because the control freak in me started packing two weeks ago to move approx. 2.3 miles.) It also means it's time for another Daring Bakers Challenge!
This month's challenge was to make a Bakewell Tart--er--Pudding. As far as I can tell from the DB forums, there are many variations of the Bakewell Tart, but this precise recipe suits me just fine.
It's made with a sweet shortbread crust, a jam or curd, and then a frangipane pastry cream baked into a cake...er...pudding. I love, love, love frangipane. It reminds me of eating almond croissants in Mr. Luz's tiny apartment in Paris and the first time I really knew he loved me. (Say it with me now....awwwww! But seriously, I earned it! It took a year and a half!) Until this challenge, I only knew frangipane as a sweet, grainy almond filling for various pastries. Apparently it's not only tasty, but versatile, as it bakes up into a subtle, spongy (or squidgy, according to the recipe) cake that is given center stage in a Bakewell Tart.
We were given a little leeway on the jam, and I wanted to use a dark, tart and earthy fruit to offset the sweet, floral almond flavors so I made a blackberry & elderberry pan jam. From there, the preparation and assembly was relatively easy for such an elegant little dessert/breakfast--and I didn't even throw any part of the recipe on the floor for this challenge!
I did have some trouble with the conversions, though I think I just ended up with a higher butter-to-flour ratio, and who can complain about that? And the lack of air conditioning in my apartment made it rather difficult to handle my "more butter than is feasible" shortbread dough, because it wanted to melt right onto my counter every time I tried to roll it out, but I fixed that by throwing small portions in the freezer and then pressing them into chilled tartlette pans rather than rolling and cutting everything out.
And take my advice...it gets a little gross, but grating the butter into the flour is pure genius. I will never want for a pastry cutter again.
Without further ado....
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.
Makes one 9 inch tart, or three 3 inch tartlettes
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.
Sweet shortcrust pastry
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (I, E.Lee, used orange extract for FANTASTIC results)
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/orange extract 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
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
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.