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 that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.
One thing I’ve always had to deal with while I was growing up was a clash of cultural identities. A never-ending battle of who I was and which culture I related to the most. The inevitable question of “where are you from?” always proved the most perplexing. Umm…England? Australia? Malaysia?
In the end, I had such a typical Aussie childhood growing up in Perth; BBQs, the beach, playing cricket out on the street, us neighbourhood kids flipping the bird to the milk truck every Sunday. I couldn’t speak one word of Chinese and slowly any traces of a UK accent dissipated and was replaced by an Aussie.
Spreading the homemade plum jam
But there’ll always be things that take me back to my other cultural roots. When I go to back to Kuala Lumpur, I’m an all-Malaysian girl who thrives on the humidity, the heat, the food, the people and the substandard toilet system.
Then there are the times where I’m 100% Pom: when we play against the Aussies in rugby, tennis, football and cricket (sorry, but I’ll always cheer for England over Australia!). When I watch my beloved Liverpool FC and bemoan the mediocrity of the English Football Team. When I’m surrounded by UK expats and my English accent returns with a vengeance.
Lemon Myrtle Curd with bush spices…delish!
Then there are times such as this: the humble Daring Bakers challenge, which immediately brought back long forgotten memories of a sticky jammed and warm frangipaned childhood. It’s not particularly challenging but a sentimental choice, as it’s always been one of those foods you grew up with but never thought to make yourself. It’s a beautiful thing to reminisce and reflect nostalgically as I impatiently gorge down on the warm tart, with the melting jam running down my fingers turning me to a sticky mess. I, of course, wholeheartedly recommend you wait until it has cooled down a little more!
The Bakewell Tart is so named after a town in Derbyshire, where it originated. For all you beady-eyed Jane Austin fans, yes, Derbyshire is where Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Darcy hails from. Imagine eating this while you stare lovingly at Mr Darcy’s soaking wet body in that scene. (Ok I really have to stop watching my BBC dvds!).
This famous English tart is simply made up of pastry, jam or curd and almond frangipane. It’s quite fortunate for me that I have a couple of jars of beautiful homemade plum jam and lemon myrtle curd that were given as gifts so what better way to make use of them. So technically I’m using homemade jam as the challenge stated…I just didn’t make it myself. And this lovely friend is not in the mood to share the recipe…yet.
Yep I’m an all-British girl just for today. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to take my tarts and go cheer for fellow-Brit Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
250ml (1cup) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
225g all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
110g unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 egg yolks
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
1-2 Tbl 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
• 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
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g icing sugar
½ tsp almond extract
125g ground almonds
30g 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 but don’t be concerned with it.
After all three eggs 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.
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 200°C / 400°F.
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.