Just to give you all a heads up, since this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge is a British treat, I’m officially British for this entry – spelling and all. I’m sure my dialect will come from many different regions of England considering I’m just winging this, not to mention, I’ll probably be way, way, way off base with the slang, words etc. That said, this will be HIGHLY exaggerated, so to my British blogging pals, please feel free to correct and/or laugh at me! Carry on, mates..and enjoy!
Oh, what an absolute joy it was to find out that this month’s DB challenge was something we’ve been enjoying here in the UK for centuries (I think). The Bakewell Tart is such a favourite confection here, that many an argy-bargy will break out when one is down to the last slice! I cannot even begin to tell you how many blokes have ended up on their arse for that slice! Silly wankers, I tell you!
First off, I’d like to pass on my gratitude to the lovely hosts of this month’s Bakewell Tart challenge for coming up with a…oh dear, I completely forgot about that silly little paragraph we must post so that the computerized little biddy can detect our entries. How funny would it be if I didn’t complete the challenge but pasted these words in a post by itself? Would I still get credit? Oh, mind my manners, I’m quite the dozy lass today !
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.
Now, a very popular question raised about this Bakewell Tart is, shall we refer to it as a tart or pudding? In some preparations, it’s a “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. In another preparation it’s a “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling.
The version of the Bakewell Tart that they are daring us to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam. A crust, some jam, a rich, nutty frangipane, and Bob’s your uncle! I absolutely cherish this version, and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it!
Although optional, we were also challenged to make our own jam or preserves. Bollocks, I say! I was in no mood to purchase an abundance of jars, sterilize them, and so on and so forth. Yes, yes, I know, a pan jam is easier, and you could always make a jam and use it immediately instead of processing a bunch of little jars that would end up in gift baskets to mates come Christmas, but I simply wasn’t in the mood to make my own jam. I had quite an array of lovely jams from Christmas baskets past, from many a mate or acquaintance, that had yet to be opened. so this was the perfect opportunity.
I decided to play it safe, since I wanted people to actually consume these Bakewell Tarts, using two basic flavours; strawberry and raspberry, for two different tarts, and fiddle with them a bit. I added fresh vanilla bean to the strawberry jam, and OH my barmy aunt, was quite chuffed at the difference it made. I then added a bit of freshly grated nutmeg to the raspberry, and after tasting, decided it was an absolutely brill pairing!
As you very well know, the key to a perfect pie pastry is that everything be cold, and I do mean COLD, as in cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, or cold enough tp make your jubblies stand up on end. Also, the last thing you want to do is over mix the dough, as that would result in pie crust that would be akin to biting into a pillar of Stonehenge. You want to see little bits of butter in the final dough prior to chilling it, and it should be raggedy in appearance, not uniform. I do swear, on the Queen’s crown jewels, that it will come together while chilling in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm. You want a lovely, flaky, tender crust, so all of the above is extraordinarily key.
When it came to the frangipane for Bakewell Tart #1, I remained true to the recipe, just adding a titch more vanilla bean to it, and poncing it up with strawberries glazed with some of the leftover jam which I reduced with some kirsch and the addition of bruleed, sliced almonds. I ran out of butane half way through the brulee, hence the remaining bits of sugar around the almonds. At first, I almost soiled my knickers out of frustration, but then realized the bits of sugar lent it a certain something – or as the French say – je ne sais quoi. Cheeky, eh?
Baking it in a rectangular tart pan lent even more of a je ne sais quoi to the tart, confusing my fellow limeys as to what it was at first glimpse. I can be quite a daft bird when I want to be, or so they say! I shall call this tart a Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Bakewell tart. No fanciful moniker, as that’s all hoity toity rubbish.
For Bakewell Tart #2, I must say, I went a little off the beaten path, as you Americans say. I still remained true to the basic frangipane recipe given to us, but suddenly an idea hit me. How about a marble frangipane? I know they go crazy in America for anything marbled with chocolate, so why not? I split the frangipane batter in two, and whisked in a bit of melted dark chocolate to one half, alternating and swirling layers of frangipane over the frozen jam and crust.
Freezing the crust and jam before the addition of the frangipane was recommended, to insure crisp, distinct layers, although, as you can see in the photographs, it did not work very well for me. It seems the frangipane dominated the tart, covering most of the jam when baked, but that’s completely my fault since I only used about 1/4 to 1/3 cup jam per tart! Apparently I missed the part where it states you could use up to 1 cup of jam.
Bloody hell..what a load of cack! Next time I’ll remedy that and plonk on half a jar of jam, but for now, you’ll just have to look at my measly, little strips of jam begging to get out from under the stampede of frangipeople rushing the stage to get closer to the band. I should have entitled this entry ‘Lisa lacks what it takes to JAM’.
Having said that, the marbled frangipane turned out quite nice, so again, I was rather chuffed. Usually, your basic Bakewell Tart is topped with some sort of white icing, commonly made with icing sugar, and finished off with a sad looking little maraschino cherry. I came to the conclusion that a chocolate topping would be tastier and much more appealing.
What better than a shiny, rich, chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries since this was well, the tart with the raspberry jam, and the tart does contain chocolate frangipane. It’s always nice to showcase what’s inside the dessert, on the outside; an exciting preview of what’s to come. I decided to call this one my Raspberry Chocolate Marble Bakewell Tart. Not very original, but, again, who needs fancy monikers?
To sum it all up, this was a wonderful recipe for the Bakewell, and everyone who tried both versions was utterly gobsmacked. According to them, it went down a treat! I must admit, it was quite scrummy!
Well, I must be on my way, so toodle pip, and have a delicious, lovely day!
Bakewell Tart Recipe
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 sit 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.
• Add another five minutes or more if you’re grinding your own almonds or if you’re mixing by hand (Heaven help you).
OK, I’m American again, and I’ve abandoned Mary Poppins (which a reader perfectly pointed out). I really want you all try the Bakewell tart because it’s pretty amazing. Play with it, put your own take on it, make it your own! (Opening umbrella and taking off while humming A Spoonful of Sugar).
RIP Michael J; your music was woven into the fabric of my life; every thread in a quilt of so many memories and emotions. Although you became a kind of shell of the superstar we all once knew, you never lost your gift. I looped ‘Rock with You’ the night I heard you died…and cried.