...at least according to Gillian. =)
It's been an interesting week of vacation. Vacation mainly in the sense that I wasn't at work at all this week. Thank you to everyone who's been sending well wishes for Jamie. (My husband who had his tonsils removed last Monday, for those who haven't been following the whole saga...) Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were the worst, but he seems to be starting to feel a bit better. Drugs are your friend...
One thing that has been good about this week is that I've been able to do a bunch of baking. I made a new batch of bagels (part whole wheat this time) to restock the freezer. I made another batch of cinnamon chip scones and shared them with Brianna's day care teachers. I made some more milk loaves (also some whole wheat in those), which I will get around to blogging one of these days. Of course I didn't get to everything that I wanted to (like challah), but I have more baking planned for today and tomorrow.
One of the things that I had deliberately left until this week was my June Daring Bakers recipe. I knew I'd have the whole week to get it done. So naturally, I waited until the last day again... =) It wasn't really deliberate, it just kind of happened that way. This week turned out to be somewhat emotionally draining, between Jamie not feeling well and having to deal with Brianna and Gillian (who were taking advantage of the fact that only one adult could really keep tabs on what they were doing, or not doing...). Wednesday went by, then Thursday. Before I knew it, it was Friday morning. I realized I needed to get my act together and took another look at the recipe...
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.
I wasn't really familiar with Bakewell Tart, but I did recognize all of the components. Sweet tart crust, I've made that before. Jam--no problem. I didn't have the time or energy to make my own, but fortunately I have access to some really wonderful store-bought stuff. Frangipane, that's a cool word to say. =) Actually, I've made that before, though it wasn't specifically called that. The "almond cream" in Dorie Greenspan's French Pear (or apple) Tart is basically frangipane. So I was hopefully that I wouldn't have too much trouble putting everything together to get the tart done before the day was over.
I started off making the sweet tart dough, which is similar to shortbread. I did it all by hand, as recommended. For adding the butter, the recipe suggests grating frozen butter into the dry ingredients. Yeah, not going there, since I had a bad experience the last time I tried that. I grated my well-chilled butter, though, which worked reasonably well. I tossed the butter and dry ingredients together, rubbed the butter in a bit, and then added the egg yolks and some cold water. I held back and didn't use all the water, since I didn't want the dough to be too sticky. I stopped when I could press the dough clumps together and have them stay. I formed the dough into a round, wrapped it in plastic and stashed it in the fridge to chill. It was only about 11:00 am at that point, so I figured I was doing pretty well.
Yeah, so much for that. I finally pulled the dough back out around 8:30 pm. At that point I had to let it warm up a bit before I could roll it out. The rolling went okay--this definitely isn't my favorite dough, though. It kept wanting to break when I was trying to put in in the tart pan. I probably should have added just a bit more water. But I got it done and popped it in the fridge to rest while I finished feeding the girls and chasing them to bed.
Next up was the frangipane. But first I moved the tart crust to the freezer so it could chill further while I made the filling. (I'm guessing so the jam wouldn't make it too soggy.) I took the easy route--I had picked up ground almonds the week before. I creamed the butter and confectioner's sugar together, then added the eggs one at a time. Even though I remembered to warm up the eggs, the mixture definitely looked curdled after I added them. But once the almonds and a bit of flour were mixed in, the batter came together nicely.
I took the tart crust out of the freezer and placed it on a baking sheet. Then I spread about a cup of my favorite raspberry fruit butter over the bottom of the tart shell (just eyeballed the amount). I put spoonfuls of the frangipane batter all over the raspberry butter and carefully used my little offset spatula to smooth the batter out to cover the jam layer. Then the whole thing went into the oven to bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
When I checked the tart at about 25 minutes, it was puffed up a bit but looked like it needed to be a little more browned on top. So I left it in for the last 5 minutes. Then I took it out and set the pan on a rack to cool. The puffy top settled quickly into an even layer. It looked perfect. But at that point it was late, so I realized that I'd be waiting until morning to dig in and take pictures. While I was drinking my tea and winding down toward bedtime, I figured I'd check out some of the posts on the Daring Bakers forum to see how others did with this one. That's when I started to scare myself. It's really hard to tell with a big tart whether the middle is really done. I worried that the bottom crust wouldn't be cooked enough or that the frangipane wouldn't be cooked through. I finally decided that there wasn't anything I could do at that point and went to bed.
The verdict? My tart was perfect! The bottom crust was done enough. The frangipane was cooked nicely. The tart raspberry butter was a great foil for the other sweet components. To quote Gillian, "Mmm! This tastes delicious." Gillian really did love it--she quickly polished off a (small) piece and asked for more. Brianna decided that she liked the raspberry part and the tart crust, but not the almond topping. I thought the whole thing was wonderful. I was kind of worried about making the full 9" tart, since I won't have a chance to take any to work or the daycare until Monday. But we've already eaten almost a third of the tart, so we'll see how much makes it through the weekend. I'll have to see how long I can store a piece in the fridge (or maybe freezer) so that Jamie can try it. It's going to be a while longer before he's up to eating something that solid.
I really enjoyed this month's challenge. It wasn't that difficult, but it was something I probably wouldn't have tried on my own. Be sure to head over to the Daring Kitchen to see lots of other amazing Bakewell Tarts. And visit Jasmine or Annemarie for the full recipe.