Saturday, June 27, 2009

A History Lesson

History was NOT my favorite subject in school; in fact, I don't really like it that much...but my favorite teacher was my AP US History teacher. This month's challenge came with a history lesson, and I must admit that I didn't read it all! However, I will give you a little of the background.

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. This tart, like many of the world's great foods has its own mythic beginnings…or several mythic beginnings. Legend has it in 1820 (or was it in the 1860s?) Mrs. Greaves, landlady of The White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to produce a pudding for her guests. Either her instructions could have been clearer or he should have paid better attention to what she said because what he made was not what she asked for. The cook spread the jam on top of the frangipane mixture rather than the other way around. Or maybe instead of a sweet rich shortcrust pastry case to hold the jam for a strawberry tart, he made a regular pastry and mixed the eggs and sugar separately and poured that over the jam—it depends upon which legend you follow. Regardless of which story you believe, the diners loved it and an ensuing pastry-clad industry was born. The town of Bakewell has since played host to many a sweet tooth in hopes of tasting the tart in its natural setting. I always like when I can share my Daring Baker challenges with my family. For the second month in a row I got to do that as I went home, probably for the last time until Thanksgiving, for Father's Day. Since it was Father's Day I wanted to use flavors my dad chose...of course, he said he'd eat whatever I made, so I just made good suggestions! ;-) At first I was going to do half Nutella and half raspberry but we decided to do both on the whole pie (NOTE: I did Nutella to please my brother...who ended up not eating it because he "doesn't eat" nuts. Oh well.). I love the way the chocolate and raspberry looks in the crust...I could have just eaten the pie like that without the frangipane. I put the pie in the oven while we watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (which is SO sad!). When my timer went off I immediately took the pie out and didn't even think to check it because the crust and top was SO brown. WELL, fastforward to Sunday after lunch. I cut into the pie and it's quite soupy. Ugh! So, I put it back into the oven for probably 10-15 minutes. It did firm up and cook but I still don't think it was quite like it should have been. My dad really enjoyed it. His comment was that it was rich but really good. He loved the raspberries. I liked the raspberries but was a little disappointed with the texture of the frangipane. I ground my own almonds and didn't have a food processor...I was using my mom's "Oscar." It just didn't quite get as fine as I would have liked and left more of a nut texture that I thought it should have had. Overall this was a yummy dessert. I had never heard of it before and am glad that I've tried it. If you want to see more challenge results go here.

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 - I didn't use)
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


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 (I didn't use this)
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.

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.


Katrina said...

Well, it sure looks good and I love the idea of raspberries and NUTELLA!

Liz said...

Hi! I have just found out your blog and I really like this tart with the frangipane, it looks delicious with the raspeberries!

Isabelle said...

Looks beautiful! Love the idea of raspberry and nutella:) Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

Raspberries and nutella, that's one nutella pairing I never thought of! Brilliant! I dip strawberries in it, so raspberries are next! That said, beautiful job, Claire, soupy to firm..whatever, it looks delicious!

Sue said...

I have to agree that the chocolate and raspberries look divine! Great job on the challenge!

Unknown said...

Katrina - Thanks! I haven't bought Nutella in a while and it was so good...of course I left it with my parents because it could prove dangerous here!

Liz - Glad you dropped in...thanks for leaving a comment. Thanks so much...the raspberries were my favorite part.

Isa - Thanks.

Lisa MIchele - I think nutella would probably be good on just about anything. I just love any kind of berry.

Sue - Thanks!

Elle said...

The addition of the Nutella and the respberries might have changed the amount of baking time, but WOW it sure does make a gorgeous and rich and wonderful tart!

SWdancer said...

Yum! Nutella and Raspberries, how can you go wrong. It looks beautiful. Congrats on a job well done.

Jaime said...

raspberry and nutella? great combo! mine browned too much too.

Maryanna said...

I bet the Nutella was amazing with the raspberries and frangipane. Great job!!!

Kathleen said...

Wow - I can't imagine grinding my own almonds for this. You're a DARING Baker for certain!!!

(If your arm is tired next time, there's almond meal at Whole Foods, and likely other specialty stores as well.)

Abby said...

I've gotta try nutella!

You Baring Dakers always impress me.

I hate it when *my* baking time is off from what the recipe says. It always screws everything up. Ugh! Glad it still was a success, though.

ice tea: sugar high said...

Love the whole raspberries in the middle. YUMMMM

Treehouse Chef said...

Wow! That looks decadent! Way to go on the Daring Bakers challenge!

Aviva O'Byrne said...

Oh girl I cannot have nutella in the house. I will eat it by the spoonful! Bad girl. I think the pairing with raspberries was brilliant.

Thank you for the kind and considerate words you wrote about spending time with my grandma. It has been a strange month and it is so lovely to hear comfort and an inspirational idea like the video interview.


Peabody said...

History was by far my least favorite subject.
Your DB Challenged looks wonderful.