Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bakewell Tarts

It's a stupid reason to make tarts, but I was looking for a recipe that uses jam in it. I had some mediocre jam that I wanted to find a use for, without having to put it on my toast. So I thought of a Bakewell Tart, which has a layer of jam under a frangipane filling. But there's a reason for that old adage of using the best ingredients you can. In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to ruin a lovely pastry with jam that lacked any kind of decent flavour. Unless I'm struck with a brilliant idea soon, I'm going to throw the stuff out. (Mea culpa, mea culpa!)

I was surprised by the variety of recipes out there for Bakewell tart, especially the number of eggs required. Some of them have so many eggs, it must be more of a custard. I ended up using a recipe from one of my most reliable sources—Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen.

Bakewell Tarts 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield:  five 4-inch tarts or one 9-inch tart.  Serves: 8-10 (I only have four small tart pans, so I had extra tart dough and filling left over—enough for one more tart. I've put it in the freezer, ready for use.)
Be warned, both the filling and the dough spend a few hours in the fridge/freezer, so this is a good candidate for preparing ahead of time and baking when required.

Tart filling:

1 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup sugar
110 grams unsalted butter, cool room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest 
4 tablespoons raspberry conserve

Tart dough:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup bastard sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
110 grams (partially) frozen unsalted butter
1 large egg

Tip: Put the butter for the tart dough in the freezer for a half hour or so before you start.
  1. Make the tart dough.
    Butter the tart pans. In the food processor, mix the flour, sugar, and salt.
    Cut the cold butter into small pieces and scatter over the flour mixture. (The butter has to be very cold, but butter that is frozen solid is harder to cut,  so I always use butter that has been frozen for 30-45 minutes.)
    Pulse just until it forms a course meal (the largest pieces should be the size of a pea).
    Using about 1/5 of the dough for each tart, press it into each tart pan and up the sides. Try to press and handle as little as possible, just enough to get the dough stuck together in the form.
    Prick with a fork and put back into the freezer for an hour or two.
  2. Make the frangipane.
    In a food processor, finely grind the almonds and flour, then add the sugar. Add the butter, almond extract, and grated lemon rind and mix until smooth.
    Add the eggs, blending thoroughly.
    Transfer to a bowl or container, then cover and chill for 3 hours.
    Clean the food processor, as you'll need it again.
  3. Pre-bake the tart shells.
    Preheat the overn to 375F/190C.
    Take some aluminum foil and cut it into squares that roughly pit the tart shells.
    Butter the shiny side of the foil, fit it into a tart shell, buttered side down.
    Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
    Remove the foil. If the pastry has puffed a lot, press it down a bit with a spoon.
    Return the tart shells to the oven bake for another 5 minutes.
    Remove and let cool.
  4. Assemble and bake the tarts.
    Preheat the oven to 350°F/180C, and take the frangipane out of the fridge.
    Spread a generous tablespoon of jam in the bottom of each tart shell.
    Spread the chilled frangipane over the jam. I used by my fingers to break it into little pieces and a knife to carefully spread it out. You don't need to make it too smooth, since it will flatten out while baking.
    Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top of the tarts.
    Bake them for 30 to 40 minutes until golden. A cake tester inserted into center of filling should come out clean.
    Let cool and then remove the tarts from the pans (this is where removable bottoms really make things easy!).
  5. Optionally, sift some icing sugar over the tarts before serving.

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