Saturday, 27 June 2009

How to tell if a tart Bakes Well

Please switch off your handphones as you enter the theatre. The show will commence shortly but first, a word from our sponsors...

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.

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-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.

With that done, please settle back in your seats and enjoy the movie...

Bond was aging. His ankle hurt whenever he stood for too long – a result of all the wild escapades of his younger days. He looked at the latest Dossier that M had given him. The global economic crisis had seen a stockpile of almonds and butter but HRH Queen E wanted a Bakewell Tart and it was up to him, Bond, James – Agent 007 of MI6, the finest Britain had to offer, to go and make this tart. Bond grimaced slightly as he realised he was more involved these days with baking goodies to satisfy the Royal Family rather than with espionage.

Bond smiled quietly to himself as he perused the recipe for the Bakewell Tart. He so loved tarts – especially the long legged kind in a short skirt and a skimpy top. He almost laughed aloud when he saw that the recipe called for jam. He remembered Tiffany, the Tart from Trafalgar, and how she would smear jam all over her face and upper body just before showering. She claimed it was good for her skin tone but James had always found better uses for the jam. Uses that were a lot more fun and that would always delay her shower…

“Ahhh, such sweet mammaries.” James laughed to himself, chuckling at his pun. He put the recipe away, making a mental note to make it on a Saturday, the day he reserved for these kind of activities.

Saturday came way to fast and James groaned as he looked over at the alarm clock, realising it was time to get up. He looked over (as he usually did) at the sexy woman lying beside him( which was also usually the case). He watched her soft breasts rising and falling as she slept. Bond ran his hand slowly up her thigh but his hand was quickly smacked away.

“I've got my school reunion this morning darling.” The sultry beauty announced as she climbed out of bed, her curves teasing Bond. “Lynn has asked me to be there early and I’ll only be back around 3 so you need to organise lunch for the kids.”

Bond made a mental note to stop cavorting and sleeping with women that had children. It just wasn't good for his reputation and neither was it good for his image that he was expected to look after the children every time the gorgeous woman had something on. It didn’t matter that the children were his…

James stared, almost leeringly, at the women as he watched her swaying hips walk out the door. Briefly he contemplated making his way to the reunion for a surprise visit. No doubt there would be plenty of sashaying hips at the reunion but he dismissed that thought.

“The things I give up for Queen and Country.” James muttered to himself.

Bond opened the freezer and took out the unsalted butter. Butter prices had escalated of late and unsalted butter was even more expensive than normal butter. Bond used the special laser butter knife that Q had designed for him to cut the exact weight required. He used his titanium blade grater to grate the butter and that worked out just great. Next came the part about working the butter into the flour with his fingers.

Bond grimaced at this thought as his fingers were meant for greater things like pulling triggers, breaking necks and of course teasing thighs and other parts of sexy women. Nonetheless, Bond plunged his fingers into the butter and flour and began to rub it in. Surprisingly, his fingers started to hurt after a while and Bond realised he really was getting on in age.
The buttery flour began to resemble breadcrumbs after a while and he quickly mixed in the eggs and water before wrapping the dough in plastic wrap and letting it rest in the fridge.

Glancing at the clock, he realised that he would need to plan his time carefully as not only did he have to sequence the tasks for the tart, he needed to make lunch too!

Bond made some mental notes. “tart dough resting in fridge. Need to warm the jam. Make the creamy tomato chicken pasta sauce. Line the tart pan and put it in freezer for a while. Make the Frangipane. Sounds like a plan!”

James did just that, following that sequence. He warmed the jam, pleased to see how it thinned out a little. Next he spent some time making his creamy tomato chicken pasta and as it simmered, he lined the tart pan and place it in the freezer. As he did so, he marvelled to himself.

“Who says men can’t multi-task huh?”

Then came the Frangipane. Now Bond had never heard of a frangipane before, unless of course you count the Frangipani flower which is certainly not the same thing nor even remotely related in any way.
James dove straight into it, noting that the recipe said that the mixture would curdle. Bond thought back to his Engineering days and figured that this would be right. With only 125 grams of butter, and three eggs, there wouldn’t be enough fat to form an emulsion with the eggs – no matter how hard you whipped the damn thing. It did settle a little with more beating but really looked fine once the flour and almond meal was added in.

Bond did the following in quick succession, he removed the tart from the freezer, spread the jam over it and then covered the whole thing with the Frangipane before deftly slipping it into the oven.

30 minutes later, and Bond surveyed the tart, cooling on the counter. He sprinkled some almonds on it, just like he used to do with Tiffany the Tart from Trafalgar. He had to admit that it wasn't as sultry looking nor as sensous as the two legged tarts he was used to but he had to admit that the feeling of Making a tart instead of Bedding a tart was immensely pleasurable. Very, very satisfying indeed!

There was some dough left over from the tart pan and I made mini tarts shells, planning to also make mini bakewells. Unfortunately, there wasnt enough jam nor frangipane to go around so what I did was to make shortcrust tart shells. The kids had these shells for dessert and although they were empty, they polished off two shells apiece - in one sitting!

It was really difficult not to cut into the tart as I decided to take it for dessert the next day to my parents house for Fathers Day - that explains why I wasn't able to plate the tart as nicely as I wanted to. Nonetheless, the tart was a huge success where everyone really enjoyed it!

I originally wanted to use apricot jam but my little princess thought that blackcurrant was a better idea. I kind of think she was right coz the contrasting colours made the tart look really nice. I also liked the stronger taste of the blackcurrant that complemented the frangipane really nicely.

My two official taste testers simply loved this dessert! My little princess kept asking when she could try the "Tart with filling, not the empty ones we had yesterday." She really enjoyed the tart and as she polished of one slice, she looked up at me and asked "Can I have another piece - bigger this time!"

My son really enjoyed this tart too and you can tell how busy be was stuffing his face. Later, after we had returned home, he asked if he could have another slice. Unfortunately, there was none left...

Now when you have a tart that everyone really enjoys, when your official taste testers declare that they love it and want seconds - THAT is how you tell if a tart Bakes Well. And you know it really Bakes Well when it's a Bakewell Tart! Pardon all my puns!

A Huge Thanks to Jasmine and Anne-Marie for this fabulous challenge. I think this will be something that I will certainly make again - if not in whole, at least some of the components!

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.

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.


Di said...

That looks great, Dharm! Apricot and blackcurrant both sound like yummy filling flavors. Mine is raspberry, but I haven't tasted it yet. I ended up waiting until the last minute (as usual), so it's still cooling. I'll have to see if my kids like this one as much as yours did. =)

Bergamot said...

You really enjoy cooking... the tart is well done and amazing.

Ria said...

OH! look them enjoying it! So cute!! Nice looking tart Dharm! I loved that doily design on top of it! :)

Aparna said...

Very, very naughty! :)
But yes, you sure know how to dish up a good tart. ;)

My daughter always refuses to ea the filling, no matter what and wants only the pie/ tart crust!

sunita said...

Dharm, your tart has definitely baked well ;-) And its nice to see your li'l ones enjoying them :-)

Mary said...

The things a spy will do on her majesty's secret service.

Anonymous said...

I love the jams you used, esepcailly the black currant, and your Bakewell's look amazingly delicious and lovely! Wonderful job all around, Dharm!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a beautiful tart! your children are so cute and seem to enjoy your creation!



Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Naughty is a Bond that bakes tarts all the way Dharm. I'll fedex you some if I get some of yours. PROMISE!! Am sure your Dad must have loved it...& the kids did of course! Her Royal Highness must be very impressed! YAY for you my friend!!

Ms. Kong Piang: said...

Love the storyline, can't stop chuckling. So lovely wife is a tart huh?

Susan @ SGCC said...

Brilliant post! I loved reading it. Nice to see that Bond has finally settled down into blissful domesticity. ;)

Love your tarts, too. I can see from those happy faces that the black currant filling was perfect with the frangipane. Well done!

Lauren said...

Haha =D!! Loved your post, and your tart look amazing as well!

Elle said...

This is your best Bond story yet...complete with lots of great puns! (or is that grate?..hee hee). Beautiful tart and I agree with your princess...the blackcurrant is perfect for flavor contrast and color. Just lovely!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

it certainly did bake well!! i see a screenplay oscar in your future!

Y said...

Your kids are too too cute! Great story too. Did you bake this with a martini in one hand? :D

isa said...

Love your post:)) Beautiful tart and lovely pictures! Nicely done!

Lis said...

BAHAHAHAHAA! LOVE the photo of your son taking the HUGE bite- so cute!

Very funny post, sweets.. I love you spin on Bond. Too funny!

Your tart ended up looking (and by the photos) tasting excellent - job well done! :D


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow oh wow what a movie! But wow what an incredible tart top!! Actually the whole tart looks perfect. I used way more jam than I should have and not enough frangipane still it was good.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

The tart looks beautiful Dharm. I love the color from the blackcurrant!

jasmine said...


You've taken food porn to a different level--tee hee! Thanks.

So glad you and yours liked the challenge.

Thanks so much for participating.


breadchick said...

Dharm, Moneypenny would be pounding down the door to get a sample of that tart.

AND the testers sure look pleased.

MeetaK said...

yup I'd say it baked well. love the flavors you used. hope you are feeling better! it's been a while!

Katie said...

Your tart looks wonderful and it looks like it was a big hit with your family.

ice tea: sugar high said...

Your creation always look beautiful, and the flavour combination sounds fantastic.

pigpigscorner said...

lol great post! the tart looks gorgeous, can't wait to have a slice of it!

creampuff said...

007 installment. Check.
Lovely Bakewell Tart. Check.
Adorable kids. Check.

Melinda said...

Great job! Your tart looks delicious and sounds like it was thoroughly enjoyed by your tasting team!

Annemarie said...

I agree with your jam assessment - think the darker jams give a nicer contrast, even if apricot would have tasted nice. Glad the kids enjoyed it so much - just hope you're shielding their eyes from all of James' shennanigans while he got the tart prepared! :)


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