Mixed Berry Bakewell Tart
It’s becoming very apparent that I’m a complete failure at this business of working and trying to keep a food blog. I’m surprised, actually, because for years and years I managed to work a ridiculous number of hours and still have time to occasionally pretend that I might be Martha — sans the income, of course. I’ve figured out that because I used to have so little time to do anything, I took quite a few shortcuts, or completely gave up what I enjoyed.
A few nights ago, I was yet again trying to explain to my very patient husband what the problem is; I find solace in quiet activities that are often solitary in nature and often have a tangible product. They’re things that keep my hands and mind busy and are often of a creative nature that can also be considered practical. Of course writing here packs several of those interests all into one nice product, so it makes sense that I’d enjoy it. Unfortunately, for me it’s not very practical.
Therein lies the rub.
This would be the enormous excuse for why I’m just now getting around to posting The June Daring Bakers’ Challenge, 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.
Making a Bakewell Tart isn’t all that difficult if you’ve had lots of practice making pie crust. It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book enjoyed on a sunny morning patio, or near a fireplace on a chilly day. In fact, making a Bakewell Tart isn’t all that time consuming, either. No, it’s more the time needed (and enjoyed) to read the forum at the Daring Kitchen to see what creative ideas others are using to make the experience more challenging, or to sit at my Mac on reveal day, clicking from one blog to the next, enjoying the stories and photos that accompany each baker’s experience. I seem not able to manage both.
So here I sit well past June 27th, just now showing my tart. It’s the first day of the July 4th weekend and the start of our family vacation time. The sky is cloud free for the first time in more than a week and blue as blue can be. It figures.
I’m sure there’s a lesson in this somewhere, so perhaps I’ll take my book out on the porch, stretch my legs and turn my face to the sun to doze a bit and wonder what I can do to avoid giving up something I truly enjoy yet again.
In the meantime, here’s my delicious Mixed Berry Bakewell Tart.
Here’s the recipe as provided by our hosts:
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)
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. 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.
- I chose to make an easy jam of blackberries and raspberries. I used equal quantities (300g) of each cooking them over a medium heat with 30g. granulated sugar until soft and thickened. Off the heat, a squeeze from half a fresh lemon stirred in before cooling finished it off. I actually enjoy the seeds in berry jam so didn’t use a sieve to remove them. This is Jasmine’s recipe, so thanks! For the most part, I’ve made fresh fruit filling using a microwave method from Baking with Julia which would also work perfectly for this tart.
- I made the pastry by hand on the same evening I made the jam and kept both in the fridge for a day and a half. I’d never used the grater on the butter before and really liked the ease of this technique which I’ll use from now on when making pastry and biscuits.
- I rolled the pastry between two pieces of plastic wrap before placing it in a 9″ square tart pan and trimming the edges.
- The rest comes together quite quickly so make sure you have everything ready!
- I used parchment to make a design to place over the almonds and dusted the warm tart with powdered sugar.
If you’ve made it this far down the page and are still reading, thank you very much. I’ll figure out how and when I’m able to keep writing here one way or another. I hope.