Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Bakers challenge - Bakewell tart

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 1800s in England.

Bakewell tarts are a classic English dessert, supposedly originating from the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire. Like many ancient, venerated dishes, its beginnings are obscured by time but it appears to have been in existence since the 1820s (or perhaps it was the 1860s).

I have several recipes for Bakewell tart from well-known English chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. Most are fairly similar: a sweet shortcrust pastry is layered with jam (traditionally strawberry jam) and then topped with an almondy frangipane. It is a delicious sweet treat, to be enjoyed either as a dessert or a sweet snack during the day. As Jasmine and Annemarie wrote in their recipe introduction: "Enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee or just eat it sneaky slice by sneaky slice until, to your chagrin, you realise the whole tart has somehow disappeared despite you never having pulled out a plate, fork or napkin with which to eat it." Having successfully made this tart, I can vouch the truth of this statement. Several times I found myself wandering past the tart, cutting off a teeny slice to nibble on, and then returning some time later for some more, and some more ...

I'm not sure of the provenance of Jasmine and Annemarie's recipe (perhaps it's a combination of all the Bakewell tart recipes they've come across) but it is an excellent version. The tart is easy to make and tastes wonderful. We ate this slightly warm from the oven as a dessert, which received a big thumbs-up, but it was just as nice the next day as a mid-morning snack. However, I felt that the tart was best eaten the day it's made, or the next day at the latest. By the following day, the pastry base on the remaining small sliver of tart, was starting to get a little soggy. But this is such a delicious treat that I doubt you'll have many problems with leftovers!

Although the recipe traditionally uses strawberry jam, I opted for raspberry, as I prefer its flavour. Unfortunately I've used up all my home-made raspberry jam, so had to make do with a bought version. Other DBs successfully made this with cherry conserve, and I think I will try that next time.

Thanks to Jasmine and Annemarie for a great challenge this month. This is a recipe that I will definitely make again.

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

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.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

225g (8oz) plain 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 (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.

Note: you can also make this pastry using a food processor, which is much faster.

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) plain 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.


Anonymous said...

Your Bakewell came out absolutely gorgeous. I also used store bought..well, gift basket jam, as I was too lazy and not in the right state of mind to make a homemade jam, but I added stuff to it to make it a little unique in flavor. Great job all around!

Dharm said...

Always nice to find an Aussie post and even more when its a Melbournite!! I studied in Melb and consider it my adopted home. Anyway.. your tart looks just fabulous! I really enjoyed this challenge and it was really yummy too. Super job with this challenge Mel!

Zita said...

Totally agree with the sneaky slice thing :)
Your tart looks delish!

isa said...

Looks delicious! Nice job!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tart, especially the frangipane! Great job!

Dragon said...

Lovely tart! Great job on this month's challenge.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

a beautiful tart! Very well done!



Andreas said...

Nice tart. I like the golden-brown colour of the frangipane.

Lauren said...

Yum! Your tart looks perfect!! Awesome job with this challenge =D.

ice tea: sugar high said...

Gorgeous tart. Great job on the challenge

Melinda said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. This was a great challenge and looks like everyone did a great job with it!

jasmine said...

Yup, the recipes evolved out of a number of different versions, hopefully taking the best bits out of each.

Lovely tart.

Thanks for participating.