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.
After a month break I'm committed to my Daring Bakers again. This month is a British dessert that I'll admit I'm not too familiar with and something that I've never made before, so I'm glad to have checked it off the list.
What is a Bakewell Tart? Well in a "pie shell" its an almond cake baked in a pie shell spread with jam. I would say these could be compared to the butter tarts or nanaimo bars of my area of the world. They are common and beloved and everywhere from bakesales, family dessert trays and mass produced for every major supermarket and bakery chain in the country. And like those same ubiquitous squares and tarts in my city, they are also often bad interpretations of the original. So we Daring Bakers attempt to bring attention and honour to a relevant member of the British tea tray and a pastry with a longstanding history and do it right.
(If you really want to know the history of this beloved British dessert, visit Jasmine's site.)
With my jam supply still a little on the heavy side and berry season firmly upon us this was a perfect dessert to use a jar of beautiful, tart, raspberry jam. It was spread on a sweet tart shell crust and then covered with frangipane, an almond cream of sorts that turns into cake. I'm not unfamiliar with this and have used it in many a tart usually with whole fruits of the season, an application I prefer, but with a highly flavoured bright jam its an easy way to showcase your homemade or gifted preserves. In reference to the mini versions that are commonly seen sporting a white iced topping and a sliced cherry, I drizzled mine with a raspberry icing and scattered a few raspberries on top, a reminder of what's hidden below.
On our first trip to the UK a year ago this month we ventured north to Windermere and had a proper English afternoon tea in a cozy tearoom on a windy, grey and rainy day. On that huge 3 tiered silver tray hovering over our small 2 person table, was certainly a bakewell tart. And its this memory that I recalled when I had my first bite of my bakewell tart. As a dessert alone, after a big meal, it didn't appeal to me. It seemed heavy and one dimensional. But alongside an uplifting cup of Earl Grey or a bracing English Breakfast tea, I imagined it the perfect afternoon pick me up, something light enough for mid day, but heavy enough to get you through to dinner. And this afternoon that's exactly what I craved with my mid afternoon beverage. So pay homage to a dessert that's been through a couple world wars, a few kings and queens and at least one low carb diet phase, and is still going strong. I can't say this one will be in my repertoire very often, but I'm certainly glad I've given it a chance.
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
1 cup jam or curd
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
Sweet shortcrust pastry
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
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Tami's notes: While there was nothing wrong with any of these methods of elements I did things slightly different.
- I made the pastry in the food processor. While I am capable of making pastry by hand I have done enough in the food processor that I have never found any benefit to doing it by hand. This is simply my way and not what you have to do.
- Frangipane made in the food processor comes together in a matter of seconds and I highly recommend it.
- While this challenge suggested we make a special jam to highlight the tart I think this kind of dessert is more of pantry dessert, a way to use things you already have around. I'm never likely to make this dessert when I'm making jam, so I used last years Cordon Rose Raspberry Jam to make room for the new batches that will start filling my shelves. This recipe can be found in the definitive Cake reference "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Berenbaum.