Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Bakewell Tart

I'm not sure why I put this off for so long. It's not like I didn't enjoy this challenge. In fact, I had never heard of a bakewell tart before, and even though it's a bit of a to-do to put together, it is so. effing. good Seriously. How did I go on so long in ignorance of its deliciousness - nay, of its existence?! But then, mine didn't turn out nearly as picturesque as everyone else's. (Recurring theme..?) And there was no fanfare about making it. In fact, the day I put it together, I napped a lot, then prepared to go camping. I shared it with a few friends at about midnight. We played with cats. Pretty exciting, huh? So I think the biggest reason I put this off was feeling like I had nothing to write, when writing about it.


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 as follows, but a few notes from me before we get into that: I don't think I ground my almonds fine enough because my frangipan was rich and lumpy rather than light and smooth like everyone else's. I didn't fret about that too much since it was sooo tasty (and reminded me a lot of what I'm sure is frangipan's cousin marzipan...), but, you know, word to the wise. As for my filling, I wanted to make this with raspberry preserves because those are my favorite, but then I realized that I've been combining chocolate and raspberries for alllll of my challenges so far. (Though last time it was a fluke; my roommate was supposed to get me strawberries at the store, but she bought the wrong ones, so I went with raspberries instead.) At the last minute, I went with chocolate and apricot, and believe me, that was a GOOD move. First I boiled some dried apricots in just enough water to cover them. In the last few minutes of boiling, I added some sugar and continued until most of the water was absorbed. Then I pureed the apricots in a blender and spread the mixture across the crust. After that, I made a ganache - just melted chocolate chips and soymilk - and spread that over the apricots. Holy crap. So good. I'm not sure of the measurements because I was doing it on the fly, but as a technique, it's something to consider and worth experimenting with flavor-wise. For the crust, I got to try a technique from my new Martha book! It wasn't BEAUTIFUL but I think it was good for a first try. With some practice, I will master crust braiding. Okay, okay, so the recipe...

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) (sub Earth Balance)
2 (2) egg yolks (omitted)
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 (sub Earth Balance)
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs (sub pureed silken tofu and corn starch)*
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).

Make this! Make this! You won't be disappointed! Also, is it just me, or have my pictures gotten significantly disappointing since art school? How ironic is that?

* Other vegan DBers did this, and it worked out splendidly and quite picturesque. I think I just fudged on the measurements because I was lazzzzzy, ha.


  1. Your braiding looks super of a first time and I KNOW it will get better fast. And yes I just LOVED this tart... er... pudding also like you. Great effort on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Australia

  2. You are the vegan baking master!

  3. Your crust looks so pretty, love it!

  4. That sounds really good! I didn't make this challenge, but maybe I'll give it a try later- sounds like it's worth it!

  5. Yum - chocolate + apricots sounds like a delicious combination. I, too, love the braided crust! Great job!