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Sunday, June 28, 2009

June Daring Bakers' Challenge

Four fruits Bakewell Tart with ice cream and glace cherries

This is my maiden voyage into the world of the Daring Kitchen, having only just recently joined. I put my hand up to be a Daring Baker, though might also get involved in the Daring Cooks' Challenges once I've got the hang of fitting the Daring Bakers' challenges into my routine! Basically, there is a different challenge put forth each month, resulting in all involved making the same recipe and comparing results! There are no prizes but it is quite fun to see the variation in results and to learn from more experienced cooks.

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.

Hooray! A traditional English dessert, perfect for someone who has just started sharehousing with a traditional English lass. Well, an English lass. It was just as well that I was providing her with something nice to eat, given that I think I've exhausted the limits of referring to her as a traditional English Bakewell Tart over this month.

I have to confess I had actually not heard of a Bakewell Tart prior to learning of this challenge, so can't attest to just how traditional this particular recipe is. Calling anything traditional is generally fraught with danger, as most people tend to think that the way their Granny or Great Aunt Beryl made it must be the final word, even if old Beryl had more cats than sense.

I must admit I was a little daunted when I first read the recipe for the Bakewell Tart, given the three elements - sweet shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam/curd. Reading further however, it became apparent that this exercise could be broken into manageable tasks and if time was not on my side I could use ready made jam or curd instead of making my own. Sadly this was the case (plus winter isn't exactly a great time of year to be making jams unless you want to bust out some rhubarb or pear or pumpkin jam) but I used very nice jams so don't hold this against me. In fact, I was keen to try a few different types of jam so I opted to make little tartlettes instead of a big tart.

Following the recipe (repeated verbatim below) I managed to make 4 tartlettes and 5 little tarts in my Texas muffin tray. We had friends around for dinner last night, and I served up the 4 tartlettes for dessert, but sadly given the lighting in our house I wasn't able to get any decent photos of them before they were devoured. I received quite possibly one of the best compliments I've ever received for my cooking, when one of the friends said the only problem he had with it was that he couldn't quite fit enough in his mouth at once.

I really enjoyed my first Daring Bakers experience, and thank the hosts for introducing me to this great new dessert. I feel more deserving of my British citizenship now.

My jams of choice - St Dalfour Four Fruits, Black Cherry (chockers with big cherries! Yum!) and Thick Apricot

Four little tartlettes, all poofy and warm

And a cherry on top!

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)
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).


Lisa Michelle June 29, 2009 at 12:11 PM  

Great choice of jams and your muffin shaped tarts came out gorgeous, as did the photos! I'm sure the mini's were spectacular as well. Awesome job!!

boroca June 29, 2009 at 1:50 PM  

They look yummy, and congratulations on your first daring challenge!

Linders June 29, 2009 at 2:50 PM  

Succumb to the late night calling of the tart with ice cream.

Conor June 29, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

But I already succumbed to the mid morning call, and it's only mid afternoon where I live. Oh dear, I feel my resolve weakening..

morgana June 29, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

thank you for your comment and congrats for your tarts, they look so yummy... and verving them with ice cream is a good idea !!

(Mmmmm, I love St. Dalfour jams, they are soooooo good).

isa June 29, 2009 at 7:48 PM  

I love your litle tarts and all this jams sounds delicious! Nice job on this challenge!

LegalAlien June 29, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

That black cherry is calling me!
Good job on this challenge, way to go!

Lisa June 29, 2009 at 10:16 PM  

Nicely done! Cherry for me too, please...

brie June 29, 2009 at 11:07 PM  

congrats on your first db challenge! your little tarts are adorable :)

art and lemons June 30, 2009 at 2:30 AM  

These little golden tartlets look delicious! Fabulous job!

Amy J. June 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM  

Excellent job - they look great! Welcome to Daring Bakers! :)

jasmine July 1, 2009 at 11:06 PM  

Welcome to the DBs and congratulations on what sounds like a successfully completed challenge!

Thanks for participating¸.

Vera July 2, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

These are so cute! Congratulations on the first completed challenge! And welcome to DB!

Megan July 2, 2009 at 7:47 PM  

They look sooooo good...

pixen July 6, 2009 at 3:25 AM  

I like St. Dalfour as well... my other favourites are Mirabelle, Black Cherry, Fig Royale, Pineapple & Mango , Orange Marmalade but I haven't taste the Kumquat (except the fresh fruit & some brandied).

Your neighbours are lucky to be invited by you for high tea! :-)

CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta August 18, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

yea! we're both daring bakers, but I don't know about this month's challenge due to uber busy-ness. I loved making these tarts and yours look splendid!

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