Sunday, June 28, 2009

Late Post for The Daring Bakers

I had an excellent project from the Daring Bakers this month. I finished it a couple weeks ago but didn't feel like writing so oh well. Now it's late.

This is something that my Dad would absolutely love. It's a tart, or British "pudding." The crust was an almond pie crust and this is my first try with frangipane which I originally thought was a cream but no. It's an almond fluffy topping like thing that is thick and yummy, although I thought mine was a little too crunchy and I should have ground the nuts finer.

The fruit filling is a homemade strawberry jam. The Daring Bakers want me to write my recipe for the jam in the blog but geez. I put strawberries in a sauce pan and simmered them until thick. I added a splash of brandy and a tablespoon of sugar and there you go. Jam. I got the strawberries on an exquisite trip to the Oregon coast. We happened to stop in Astoria on our way back for lunch and there was a farmers market going on. I bought a half crate of the sweetest most amazing strawberries in the world. I LOVE OREGON. It's a magical place with incredible beer, excellent fish, and oh my goodness the strawberries.

I used a cup of jam for the tart and it definitely needed more. The contrast between the fruit and the almond taste could have been stronger.

A long time ago in an apartment far far away I used to make jam. I made it for holiday presents. My absolute best batch was a pomegranate kumquat strawberry. It took hours and hours and hours and the pomegranates made my hands purple. But it was so good. It was SO good. This would have been an excellent jam for the tart but I wanted the Oregon strawberries to stand on their own.

My Grandma told me how to make jam. She used to do it with her sisters. They would spend entire days pitting dark cherries and she told me that their hands were black for a week. They would sit there and tell stories and laugh all day. They didn't have pectin so I honestly don't know how the preservation went. She told me to make a small batch by simmering the fruit and sugar and use it. Jam.

She made jam and liquor from pomegranates when she lived in Israel. Pomegranates grew everywhere and you could just pick them. They are my Uncle's favorite fruit so he would pick bushels of them to take home to her when he was little. When she tells me about the pomegranates in Israel I feel like she is talking about another reality. Pomegranates are $3 each here! You could just pick them!!!???!!! What a resource. What an incredible luxury to be able to pick fruit like that and have it cost nothing. I imagine some person owns every single inch of land that bears fruit now, but she really painted a beautiful picture of the time for me.

Back in Seattle I made this tart with delicious strawberries that someone else picked and cost us $20 for a half crate. Worth it, but still pricey.

Here is what you need to know:

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.

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).

Thanks ladies! This was fun.


  1. I love the story about your grandma teaching you to make jam, so heart warming, as it brings back memories of mine teaching me so many things in the kitchen! That said, your tart is gorgeous, and no doubt that strawberry jam was marvelous!

  2. Grandmas are fantastic! I remember my Grandma teaching me how to bake and she's the inspiration behind my love for baking and food. I always think about her when I'm baking now, so many memories.

    Your tart looks fantastic and the contrast of colour between the jam and frangipane is beautiful. Congratulations!

  3. Um, so if I stop by your house uninvited, will I find some of that tart there? That looks AMAZING. I'm actually considering trying it myself, but I doubt mine will turn out like the picture.

  4. Wow, the jam sounds awesome and your tart looks amazing! Great work!

  5. Great job on the challenge. Your jam sounds like it's been in the family. So touching.

  6. That looks just delicious!!! I love how thick your jam is. We made jam one year when we lived in Kyrgyzstan and took an entire day to do it as well...well worth it though because then we had fresh rapsberry jam the rest of the year. Wish I remembered how to do it! :-)

  7. Grandmas are great! Your tart looks beutiful!