Surprised to see me back doing the Daring Bakers' challenge so soon? Especially since in my last challenge post I announced it would be my last till October! If you do not know yet then let me tell you that although we packed, sold and sorted out a lot of our stuff for the anticipated move, we are not moving anymore. Due to several issues in the project, Tom was supposed to work on in Doha, we decided that the perspective initially offered to him had changed too much and Tom has oriented himself elsewhere.
So while we get back to the basics, like buying new furniture and sorting out a few other bits and bobs, I thought that getting back into the kitchen with my Daring Bakers would help me take my mind off things. Baking always does that you know?
I was glad that Ivonne and Lisa took me back with open arms. Thank you ladies!
This month we tackled the very traditional and very English Bakewell Tart (or was it pudding?). There's quite a bit of history to this tart/pudding, first appearing in writing in 1826 where the term "Bakewell Pudding" was first mentioned by Meg Dods. By the latter half of the 1800s, the egg custard evolved into a frangipane-like filling; since then the quantity of jam decreased while the almond filling increased.
The first time I ever tried the Bakewell tart was back in Doha. My mother had a formidable English friend, whose personal mission seemed to be to convince everyone around her how much injustice the British cuisine got and to prove that all the food bashing was incorrect she would organize parties, picnics and tea afternoons serving only the best the British kitchen had to offer. If it made believers out of all her guests I dare not say but I do know this: that almost everyone was wild about her Bakewell tarts. They were light crusted, with just enough of jam or curd for a flavor high and the frangipane topping was moist and rich.
I have never quite ever had a Bakewell tart of such delicious magnitude! Unfortunately mum's friend passed away several years ago and I am afraid the recipe of hers will be her well kept secret. Mum told me that at her wake ceremony they served Bakewell tarts in all shapes, sizes and flavors.
After living in Germany for a few years I came across a bakery in Leipzig. They were selling small tarts with buttery crusts, jam filled interiors and a topping that very much was a frangipane. It went by the name "Leipziger Lerche". I bought two not really making the bridge to the Bakewell yet. Once home however, I bit into one and at once I was reminded of the awesome tarts my mum's friend made. I gobbled down both - forgetting that one was for Tom!
Ever since then I have made the German Leipziger Lerche on a few occasions but never really could bring myself to create my own Bakewell tart. There isn't much of a difference in the recipes but under the name Leipziger Lerche I was less intimidated. When one has such impressive examples in memory it seems nothing else comes close.
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.
The recipe is very straightforward, containing 3 basic elements:
- Shortcrust pastry for the base layer
- Jam, preserve or curd for the filling
- Frangipane to top it all off with
Jasmine and Annemarie gave us enough room to play around with this recipe. Making our own sweet shortcrust pastry and frangipane were the two mandatory elements for this challenge.
I've made shortcrust pastry on several occasions so that element was a breeze. I had a huge bag of cashew nuts that was begging to be used so I made my frangipane with them, which really gave it a very exquisite taste. At first I was planning on making my own jam but then had to go for my quick tweaking of a store-bought version, which I often do when I need a filling or spread for special occasions.
The Black Cherry Jam Tweaking
1 300 ml jar of black cherry with whole cherries in it
A few springs of Thyme, finely chop one or two leaving the rest whole
A few squirts of lime juice
Half a vanilla bean, insides scraped
Pour out all the contents from the jar into a saucepan. Heat then add all the other ingredients remove from heat and allow to steep.
Use this on pancakes, French toast, scones or fill in pastries, tarts and cakes or even use to top ice-creams and other creamy desserts.
And now to the recipe of the grand Bakewell Tart as I made.
Bakewell Tart with Thyme Infused Cherry Preserve and Cashew Frangipane
Printable Version of recipe here.
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 cashews
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 acclimatized 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 cashews 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.
- 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 flavored your preserves are. 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.
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
1 vanilla bean (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 seeds of the vanilla bean (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
Cashew Nut Frangipane
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) vanilla extract
125g (4.5oz) ground cashew nuts
30g (1oz) all purpose flour
- Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in color 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. Don’t panic. It’ll be fine.
- After all three eggs are incorporated, pour in the vanilla 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 color.
- Add another five minutes or more if you're grinding your own almonds or if you're mixing by hand.
Food Guide Tips
- What cashew nuts do for you
- How to select and store cherries
- A guide to making Jams, Jellies, Preserves
Although it cracked while baking, we loved this simple pleasure. There is noting quite like biting into lovely moist and nutty frangipane, then feeling the sticky sweetness of cherry with a touch of time and finally the crumbly pastry. It’s an unsurpassable crowd pleaser, ensuring that everyone will be licking their lips for more.
Would I make this again?
Yes – again and again. Playing around with different filling flavors will be fun. I already have the next tart lined up for a little tea party I will be having. This time I will be making them in smaller tart forms.
What did I learn from this challenge?
Nothing should intimidate you – not even the memory of a magnificent cake. As I have made the German pendant to this often, I did not experience any difficulties. It was just great to be able to get back to baking with the group!
Thanks to Jasmine and Annemarie for this great challenge.
Also a huge thanks to the lovely Claudia of Fool for Food for directing me to the right place for this lovely rectangular tart form.
You might like these previous Daring Bakers challenges:
|Chocolate Éclairs||Bostini Cream Pie||Cheesecake Pops|
Monthly Mingle Reminder
It's time for a fiesta and everyone is invited. My gracious guest hostess is the absolutely wonderful Jenny from All Things Edible and I love the theme she picked for this month. Jenny wants us all to come party with her in her Mexican Fiesta.
Deadline is July 13th, so come on over and fiesta with us!
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