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  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on June 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: almonds, lemon curd, tart   

    Daring Bakers – 20th Challenge: Bakewell Tart 

    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. There was quite a bit of history to this dessert. According to the Challenge,

    Flan-like desserts that combine either sweet egg custard over candied fruit or feature spiced ground almonds in a pastry shell have Mediaeval roots. The term “Bakewell pudding” was first penned in 1826 by Meg Dods; 20 years later Eliza Acton published a recipe that featured a baked rich egg custard overtop 2cm of jam…

    By the latter half of the 1800s, the egg custard evolved into a frangipane-like filling; since then the quantity of jam decreased while the almond filling increased.

    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 what the venerable Mrs. Greaves’ cook did or didn’t do, lore has it that her guests 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.

    The recipe was pretty straightforward. I went to my favorite grocery store for all things baking, Famous Foods, and found almond dust, perfect for the sweet pastry crust. I prepared the dough the night before to allow it to rest overnight. I wasn’t quite sure what to use as the fruity filling. After a bit of dithering, I finally opted for a lemon curd. The next day, I made the curd, rolled pastry and placed it in the freezer. The frangipane was next and then the assembly. It turned out to be a very light and not too sweet tart. Quite nice. I love almonds, so this was right up my alley. I served the tart with a a simple whipped cream, flavoured with a bit of limoncello. Another nice addition to my dessert roster. Great challenge, and I loved the historical component to it. Thank you ladies!

    Bakewell Tart

    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


    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.

    • Lauren 4:23 pm on June 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Yum!! Your tart looks amazing =D. I love the lemon curd!!

    • lisamichele 4:20 am on June 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful Bakewell, the lemon curd segues into the frangipane beautifully! Looks smooth, creamy and delicious! Incredible job!

    • asti soehoed 4:22 am on June 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Lemon curd paired beautifully with the almond frangipane. Great job.

    • Danielle 5:42 am on July 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Looks sooo great!!

    • jasmine 3:55 pm on July 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Glad you liked the challenge.

      Thanks for participating.

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on June 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asian cuisine, dumplings, potstickers   

    Daring Cooks – 2nd Challenge: Chinese dumplings/potstickers 

    Pan-fired chinese dumplings

    The second Daring Cooks challenge continued with bite-sized wonders in the form of potstickers/chinese dumplings. Our hostess with the mostess this month was Jen from use real butter. Living next to Vancouver’s Chinatown, these dumplings are a familiar sight in small chinese bakeries and restaurants in my neighborhood. I can buy them fresh at Superstore, or  frozen in pretty much every supermarket. It’s almost a staple in this town. Hon‘s is renowned for theirs, and Fujiya also makes very nice gyozas (the japanese version) for take-out. Either, often a treat after a long day’s work.

    We had made various chinese dumplings in cooking school, so this was not a first for me. But, it was a timely reminder of how easy they are to make at home.  The challenge was simple enough: Choose a filling, choose a dough and choose a cooking method.

    I chose the following combination:

    2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup (113g) warm water
    flour for work surface

    Steamed dumplingsIn a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch. Weighing  ingredients is highly recommended for this recipe.

    Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

    pork filling:
    1 lb (450g) ground pork
    4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
    3 stalks green onions, minced
    7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
    1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
    1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
    3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
    2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
    2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

    Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).


    dipping sauce:
    2 parts soy sauce
    1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
    a few drops of sesame oil
    chili garlic paste (optional)
    minced ginger (optional)
    minced garlic (optional)
    minced green onion (optional)
    sugar (optional)

    Prep was typical of many asian dishes, i.e. long with many ingredients involved. Got reacquainted with my chef’s knife (and the importance of keeping it sharpened). But the results were well worth it. The pork filling was just delicious. I had a lot left, which I froze for future dumplings. I steamed some potstickers and pan fried some. I preferred the pan-fried ones, done in a little bit of chili oil. I did not actually boil them either, which gave them a nice hot crunch. The sauce was a great addition as well. My asian pantry is now getting well-stocked, and I’ll be making these savoury nuggets again before long. Great challenge!

    • Anula 3:31 am on June 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Deliciously looking dumplings 🙂 Can I have some? 😉 Great job!

    • Mary 9:39 am on June 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your dumplings look so good. You’ve done a very nice job with the pleating. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    • Jen Yu 11:38 am on June 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, lucky you to be near Vancouver! I’m jealous b/c the Chinese food there is *awesome* as you probably know 🙂 But you totally owned this challenge and your potstickers look incredibly tempting now (as I approach lunch hour). Great job!

    • Lauren 8:56 am on June 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful potstickers! Awesome job =D!

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