It's Daring Bakers time, it's Daring Bakers time!
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.
You can find the recipe on each of their blogs, linked above.
This month's Daring Bakers' challenge has been a favorite dessert since I first learned to make it during one of my earliest classes in cooking school. I've since made them only once, and that was when I tried out Claire Clark's recipe from her cookbook, Indulgence. While I liked her tart shell more, mostly because it was easier to manage and tasted just as good, the filling for this challenge tart was amazing.
We were allowed to choose the accompanying filling that went with the tarts. Traditionally, the dessert included a layer of jam across the bottom. I used fig jam. Because fig jam will make you faint. In a good way.
The tart shells. I've tried many different shortcrust dough recipes, and this is one of the more finicky. Make sure the dough is slightly sticky, as the recipe directs, or it may come out to crumbly when baked. Pay careful attention to the temperature before rolling it out--too hot or too cold, and your dough may crack or stick to your rolling pin. Keep the flour handy to dust your work surface and pin.
Spread the jam across the bottom, and plop the almond cream filling on top. Be gentle when spreading the almond cream, or you might push the jam to the tart's corners, and it may even rise to the surface, up the sides. You may want to chill or even freeze your tart shells after you've smoothed the jam in to avoid oozing. Because oozing is bad, unless we're talking cheesy pizza or the chocolate out of s'mores. Okay, maybe it's not so bad . . . but in this case, it would be wretched.
Spreaded! And one before being spreaded, so you know I didn't Photoshop it to fool you.
As they bake, the upper crust will rise, but then deflate again as the tarts cool. I had leftover filling, so I filled a ramekin to make a little dessert. Which disappeared shortly after this shot was taken. *shrugs*
Oh my. Almond cream, despite its name, bakes into a light, moist, flavorful, wonderful, spectacularly delicious cake-like substance. Holy cheese, it's good. It's even tasty raw. Not that I'd know this. Just take my word for it (don't eat it if you're pregnant or have a compromised immune system--raw eggs and all that make for bad news!). I initially thought I'd overbaked the tarts because of how brown they got, but it didn't affect the taste at all, and I think this browning enriched the tart's nuttiness.
The jam. It permeates upward. Like tulips out of the snow in the spring. Only tastier. If there are any doubts about whether almond cream and fig jam get along, banish them now. You may not have noticed, but they're an elderly couple who like to hold hands, smile at each other, and walk through the park. That's right--just like the diamond commercial. They get along most righteously.
Want ideas for other Bakewell Tart fillings? Visit my fellow DBers on our blogroll!
For visual reference:
The Claire Clark Bakewell Tart, with raspberry jam that I baked last fall.
In reverse, the fig and frangipane crostata I made for the 2007 Winter Festival of Pie. Suspiciously, a "fresh fig and almond crostata" appeared in the October 2008 issue of Martha Stewart's "everday FOOD." A co-worker had given me the issue, and the photo made me do a double-take. Drat on you, Martha--drat on you and your weird capitalization system!