Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bakewell Pudding

June's Daring Bakers challenge was a British treat called Bakewell Pudding. It's more of a tart really. Bakewell pudding is a tart shell filled with jam or custard and topped with frangipane, a very light almond cake that is delicious! 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 Pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England. At first I wasn't looking forward to making this recipe since it required all of the ingredients to be weighed out. I didn't have a scale, but after I bought one I learned that weighing wasn't so hard. It was actually nice to just dump all of the bowls of pre-measured ingredients into my mixer. It was fast that way, but it did make for a lot of cleaning afterwards! I'm not sure that I'm a convert to weighing my ingredients instead of using cups, but we'll see. I really enjoyed this recipe, and I actually made it twice in the same week! I brought a piece to work to let my dad try it and he like it too. I made it again for him on Father's Day, but this time I added a thin layer of raspberry jam underneath the chocolate tart filling I used. It was even more delicious than my first go around! Raspberries and chocolate go very well together!

The shortcrust pastry was very easy to assemble thanks to the grated margarine. The recipe calls for grated frozen butter, but I used frozen hard margarine instead. I hadn't used hard margarine in baking before, but it acted just like butter, and tasted very similar too. Grating the butter allowed me to mix the pastry crust as little as possible, which made the crust very flaky and tender. I refridgerated the first crust for about 90 minutes, and the second time for 30 minutes, and I didn't notice much difference. You can definitely make this well ahead of time, but in a pinch you can make it last minute too! I didn't have any almond extract, so I used vanilla instead. When it came time to roll out the pastry, I used my dad's method of rolling it out between two sheets of wax paper. Doing it this way ensures that the pastry won't stick and you can plop the pastry over the pan and peel back the wax paper. This also eliminates the need for a dusting of flour, which can make the pastry tough.

The frangipane was very easy to make. I threw all of the pre-measured ingredients into my mixer as suggested in the recipe and it turned out well. I didn't have the curdling issue that some people had. I don't know what I did differently, but it came out very smooth. For this recipe I used regular tub margarine instead of butter because it is much softer than the stick margarine. I used vanilla extract instead of almond. I'm glad I did, since almond extract is pretty overpowering, and I'm not a huge almond fan. Although this recipe called for a fair amount of almond meal, it wasn't almondy at all.

For the filling I used a recipe for chocolate tart filling from the Food Network's Tyler Florence. The recipe on Daring Bakers said to use jam or curd as a filling, but there was no way I could pass up chocolate. I halved the recipe, since it would have been way too much after the addition of the frangipane. I had to modify this recipe a bit since it called for heavy cream and milk. I used my usual soy milk, and thickened it just a touch with corn starch. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, which may have helped thicken the mixture since chocolate chips contain an ingredient that helps them hold their shape when heated. The chocolate filling was so smooth and creamy and it was an excellent compliment to the buttery crust and sweet almond topping.

I assembled my tart using a 10 inch tart pan. I rolled out the pastry and placed it in the pan and froze it for a good 30 minutes. The second time I made the tart I put a thin layer of melted jam in the tart shell and froze it that way. It helped keep the chocolate and jam from mixing together. After the shell was nicely chilled, I poured the chocolate tart filling in and then topped it with the frangipane. If I was to make this recipe again (which I probably will) I will freeze the chocolate filling in the shell before spooning on the frangipane. Since the chocolate was very liquid, it rose above the frangipane. It wasn't a huge problem, but I would have liked to be able to smooth the frangipane with an off set spatula to make it nice and smooth without the tart filling pouring out.

I really enjoyed this recipe. It is a very light and tasty dessert that is perfect for summer time! Below is the recipe with my modifications in red.

Bakewell Pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart) I used a 10 inch pan

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 I used two sheets of wax paper for rolling, so this wasn't needed.

250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability I used chocolate tart filling instead.

One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)

One handful blanched, flaked almonds Omitted because they are gross.
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) I used the same quantity of hard margarine

2 (2) egg yolks

2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional) I used vanilla instead

15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water I needed more like 4 tablespoons for some reason.
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 I used soft tub margarine

125g (4.5oz) icing sugar

3 (3) eggs

2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract I used vanilla

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 (light yellow. Such a lame way to describe yellow 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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Funnel Cakes

While looking for recipes on Martha Stewart a few weekends ago, Paul glanced over at my screen just a post about funnel cakes scrolled by. He asked me if I could make them, since he hadn't had a funnel cake in a long time, so I took that as a challenge. We were also helping a friend mark some science tests that night while watching a hockey game, so a treat would be nice.

I googled funnel cake recipes, and this recipe from the blog Moms Who Think caught my eye. It was pretty simple and contained ingredients that I already had on hand.

I know funnel cakes probably aren't the healthiest thing to eat, since they are fried and are sugary, but a treat is necessary every now and then. To cut down on the artery clogging goodness of this recipe, I used a frying pan and put a very thin layer of canola oil in it. This is the same method I have used in the past to make my doughnuts. It worked very well. I used a piping bag with a fairly small round tip to create the funnel pattern, since the batter was thicker than I thought it would be. I made little swirly patterns in the oil, making sure that all my squiggles touched in some way so it would be easy to remove from the pan. After they were cooked to a golden brown, we dusted them with powdered sugar and enjoyed!

For this recipe I used soymilk instead of regular milk, and no one could tell the difference. I hadn't had a funnel cake in a really long time, since you can never really be sure what they contain when you eat them at an amusement park (and I doubt the person making them knows what goes in them anyway). These were definitely best the day they were made. We ate some the day after and they turned pretty hard, but they were still tasty!