Umm, I mean bakewell. Tart that is. Co-hostesses Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar challenged us with a bakewell tart for this month's Daring Bakers' recipe. The history of the bakewell tart is a bit fuzzy. According to Jasmine and Annemarie, today's version of the bakewell tart/pudding typically falls under one of two categories. The first is the "pudding" where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the "tart" where a rich short pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling. The version they came up with is a combination of the two: a sweet short crust pastry, frangipane and jam.
The first element was an easy to make dough for the short crust pastry. They encouraged us to put away the food processor and make the dough by hand. Grating frozen butter into the flour mimics the processing that a machine would do. My only problem was a lot of butter stuck to my box grater. I was unsuccessful in my attempts to extract every bit of butter out of the grater's teeth, so I just threw in another tablespoon of butter into the mix. Problem solved. To reduce the amount of water and increase the fat, I used heavy cream instead of water in the dough. No one said this was low fat baking!
They gave us the freedom to use any flavor of jam and it could be homemade or store bought. I decided to use a mango jam given to me by a friend. And then I exercised some creative license for the final element - the frangipane filling. Even though I love almonds, I used macadamia nuts instead of almonds in the frangipane filling. I'm not sure if I can still call it frangipane if it doesn't have almonds. I toasted the macadamia nuts in the oven and let them cool completely before blitzing them in the food processor. I made sure to add a small amount of the confectioners' sugar from the filling recipe. The confectioners' sugar absorbs some of the oils released from the nuts and prevents the ground nuts from turning into nut butter. I also added a bit of dark rum and vanilla to the filling to round out the tropical theme.
The end result was quite amazing. It was like eating a tart and cake at the same time. The cakey nut filling was divine. It was rich and moist. The perfume of the macadamia nuts paired wonderfully with the sweet mango jam. The crust was flaky and buttery, but sturdy enough to encase all the goodness of the jam and cakey filling. I could cut super thin slices and it held together beautifully which was important since I was taking slice after thin slice and eating it sans fork and plate.
The fine print:
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.
Macadamia Mango Bakewell Tart
Makes one 23cm (9-inch) tart
One quantity sweet short crust pastry (recipe follows)
One quantity macadamia nut frangipane (recipe follows)
125ml (4 US fluid ounces) mango jam
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 acclimatized 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 poufy and brownish.
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poufy 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 filling will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.
Sweet short crust pastry
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) granulated sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 large egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water or heavy cream
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 extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water or cream, 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
Macadamia Nut "Frangipane" Filling
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing (confectioners') sugar
3 large eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract
5ml (1 tsp) dark rum
125g (4.5oz) macadamia nuts (weigh, lightly toast, cool and then grind finely)
30g (1oz) all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is light 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 vanilla extract and rum 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 nuts) and retain its pallid yellow color.