Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bakewell Tart..er Pudding...er Flop!

No it's not the surface of the moon. It's supposed to be a tart...er pudding...It's neither!!!
Well it was bound to happen, I finally had a Daring Baker challenge that I totally failed! When I read the recipe, I didn't think I had any worries. But the life got crazy, I ended up going to Europe for most of the month of June. Then when I got home it seemed that there were millions of little things to catch up on. Oh and I'm managing a brand new Farmers Market..you get the picture. So when I remembered the challenge, I'd already missed the posting date. Aahh!! So I quickly got the recipe out and started baking. Sweet pastry crust, no problem. Then I get to the frangipane and realize I need a scale! I don't have one so I thought I'd try to wing it...ummm yeah, not a good idea! So my frangipane was a total disaster. However, I did use some jam that I brought back with me from the Saturday Farmers Market in Germany. It was strawberry rhubarb. Really tasty. Didn't make up for the frangipane however.
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.
Thanks Jasmine and Annemarie I enjoyed it even though it didn't turn out so well!! But I learn a good lesson, if you don't have a kitchen scale don't attempt guesstimating amounts!
Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits. Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types.

The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling. The version we’re daring you to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavored shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.

Bakewell tart
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)
Bench flour
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.

Jasmine’s notes:
• 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.
Annemarie’s notes:
• 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

Jasmine’s notes:
• 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.

Annemarie’s notes:
• Add another five minutes or more if you're grinding your own almonds or if you're mixing by hand (Heaven help you).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home again!

After three wonderful weeks in Germany and France, I'm back home again. Hubs and I had a wonderful time but it's nice to get back home. I think finally I'm over my jet lag now and getting caught up with everything after being gone for so long.
Just before I left for Germany I entered a giveaway on Sara's blog Ms.Adventures in Italy. Sara's blog is full of food, recipes, and info on Italian living. She was giving away Pocket Coffee. It's a candy combining two of my favorite things chocolate and coffee.I entered and won!!!! The day before I left Sara sent me an email saying that she'd shipped the candy and it would arrive with in the next two weeks. My younger sister was getting my mail while I was gone. I asked her to keep an eye out for a package because it had chocolate in it and would melt. She was kind enough to get the package and even try a few of the pocket coffee's to make sure that they were still okay. Wow isn't nice to have a sister willing to do that for you. hehe Thanks sis:)
Anyway the Pocket Coffee is wonderful. They are rich chocolate candies filled with espresso syrup. Coffee you can carry in your pocket. Perfect!! Thanks Sara!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Where in the world is half baked??

About 5 years ago my husband's job brought him to Germany for about a year. We lived in Wiesbaden during that year. When he wasn't working, we traveled all over Europe. It was great way to experience the culture and foods of the places we visited. We also made lifelong friends of our neighbors in Germany. It was an unforgettable year, full of wonderful people and experiences.
A few weeks ago Hubs got the opportunity to come back to Germany for about 3 weeks for his job...and I got to tag along! The best part is that while here, Hubs will have lots of time off.
Our first couple of days were spent catching up with our good friends in Germany. We lived next door to them during the year that we lived here. It was wonderful seeing them again. The first day I arrived we went to see them. We had cake and coffee in the afternoon(a habit that I would love to adopt!) and then took us to a wine festival in a small nearby town. Hubs and I were definitely the only Americans at this little festival. It was fun and the food and wine were terrific.

Riesling with strawberries
So for the next couple of weeks I'll be a little out of the loop but will try to keep you posted on our adventures!!

Strawberry Cake
Strawberries are in season here and they are everywhere. Our friends made this strawberry cake. We had a slice or two before heading out for the wine festival.