Monday, June 29, 2009

Daring Bakers: Raspberry Bakewell Tart, for our Anniversary

Today is my husband and my 2 year anniversary, and unfortunately, we have to spend it apart. He's off taking care of some important business, and I'm cheering him on from home, praying that things go well. We've been stuck in limbo for a couple of months now, and we're both ready for things to settle down and get back to normal. That said, this month's Daring Bakers' challenge was a welcome respite for me, and my husband and I can celebrate 2 years and 1 day tomorrow over a slice of this delicious tart/pudding.

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.

Luckily for me, this month's challenge was neither difficult nor time consuming, yet it was very rewarding. I've not had the opportunity to make a Bakewell Tart/Pudding, so I'm glad I was able to participate in this challenge- even if I am a few days late in posting. I love the raspberry and almond flavor combination, though I must say I would probably serve this as a breakfast treat instead of a dessert. Either way, it's some tasty stuff!

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

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)
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

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
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.

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).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hot Fudge... Oh Yum...

Why, oh why have I waited so long to make something so easy, yet so tasty? For too long, I've been content to mindlessly squeeze an anemic, vaguely chocolatey syrup from an unattractive brown plastic bottle onto my ice cream whilst rambling on about how much I hate all things pre-made... I'm usually that slightly obsessive person obnoxiously preaching to (usually uninterested) friends and family about how starkly different (read: better) homemade condiments are from their bottled counterparts and encouraging people to make their own salad dressing/ketchup/mayo; however, I've never thought to make my own hot fudge. I feel like a completely new brand of hypocrite *slamming head on table.*

This particular fudge isn't the usual super-sweet chocolate sauce for which many people settle. It's bittersweet, rich, and slightly spiked, perfect for that ice cream sundae you are probably starting to crave. One warning, though: as with anything made with chocolate, please don't skip out on a good quality chocolate and go the cheap route. You'll end up with grainy, not-so-tasty hot fudge that's just not worth the fifteen minutes it takes to make. Bottom line: If you're going to indulge, indulge in something that's worth it.

Hot Fudge Sauce

4 oz. unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2/3 cup water
1/4-1/3 cup sugar (I use 1/4 if using bittersweet chocolate and 1/3 if using unsweetened)
6 Tbsp. corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. rum (or vanilla, or other liquor of choice)

Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring until combined. Heat the water to boiling in a small saucepan. Once the butter and chocolate are melted and combined, stir into the boiling water. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and salt and mix until smooth. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat so that sauce is just maintained at the boiling point, stirring frequently. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. Stir in rum.

Can be reheated in microwave and stirred to bring back to correct consistency.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fish Soup.

With the recent heat and humidity, the last thing any sane person would want is a steaming bowl of soup; I, however, have had my sanity called into question more than a few times, so it should come as no shock that I love soup in the summer. Specifically, nothing beats a West Coast style soup that involves wee bits of tomatoes, onions, and chunks of white fish in a savory tomato broth spiked with a healthy dose of white wine. Add some parsley for a bright kick of freshness and a dash of tabasco for a subtly spicy undertone, and you've got my idea of a perfect summer soup.

Fish Soup
(Serves 4)


4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 1/4 tsp. tomato paste
8 oz. clam juice
2/3 cup off-dry to dry white wine
1 1/2 lb white fish, cut into large bite-sized pieces
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of thyme
Dash of Tobasco
Salt and Pepper, to taste


1. Heat oil in medium to large pot over medium-high heat, saute onion and garlic in oil 3-4 minutes. Add parsley and cook for 1 more minute. Add tomato and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

2. Add clam juice, wine, and fish and bring to a simmer until fish is cooked (about 8 minutes). Add seasoning and cook 2 more minutes; add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sour Cream Hotcakes

I know, I know... I've been bad. I've barely posted anything over the past month and I haven't given much explanation. I feel like I've completely fallen off the wagon... I missed my first Daring Bakers challenge, I didn't even take pictures of the last cake I baked (my birthday cake, no less), I've had possibly the best osso busco and risotto on earth and failed to mention it to you, and I have tried several new recipes without promptly sharing them with you...but believe me, dear reader, when I say that I have not forgotten about you, nor have I been purposely ignoring you. I've just been incredibly busy for the last few weeks. My living situation has changed drastically, and my schedule hasn't allowed time for me to sit down and write a coherent post. So thank you for bearing with me. Your patience is much appreciated.

That said, you didn't think I'd get on here and leave without sharing a recipe, did you? I tried these little pancakes for dinner tonight (because nothing beats breakfast for dinner some nights), and they didn't disappoint. I struggle to call them "pancakes" because they're so light and fluffy, there's nothing cake-like about them; they almost melt in your mouth and have this amazing texture somewhere between a super light fritatta and a crepe, with a hint of custard somewhere in there (I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it works). When I made the batter, I was skeptical about the miniscule amount of flour along with the massive amount of sour cream and eggs, but they turned out quite well. I might-MIGHT-try them again with slightly less egg to see what happens to the texture. I can't say that this will be my go-to recipe for pancakes, but it's a nice addition to the breakfast recipe lexicon, and it's one that will impress your guests.

Sour Cream Hotcakes


4 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup cake flour
2 cups sour cream
3 Tbsp. sugar


Stir eggs in a mixing bowl until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop small spoonfuls of batter onto a hot, buttered/greased griddle (enough to make silver dollar sized pancakes). When pancakes start to bubble on top, flip them and cook briefly until done.