Saturday, June 27, 2009

June Daring Baker: Bakewell 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.

I'd never heard of this, but was excited to make it since the hosts' pictures looked so tantalizing. I as I was making it, I thought it was going to turn out perfectly. By the picture you can tell that it didn't quite turn out perfectly!

When it finished cooking I thought back to where I went wrong since the top got a little too brown and the frangipane was the wrong consistency (and the middle was not quite done). As I thought about it, I realized I did a few things wrong:
  1. The pie pan I thought was 9" was really larger...9 1/2 or 10 in. Oops.
  2. I totally forgot to put the flour in the frangipane! My 18 mo. old was "helping" me cook, and I just got too distracted. Plus I can always use my "I'm 9 mo. pregnant!" excuse since pregnancy seems to make me very forgetful in the kitchen.
  3. My crust seemed waaaayyy too dry after adding the amount of water in the recipe, so I added an extra Tbsp. I think that made it too wet. It didn't taste bad, I think it's just not quite what it should have been.
  4. I rolled the shortening crust a little too thin since my pan was too big.
Despite my errors, the taste of this was actually quite good. It got pretty brown (though it didn't taste burned), so next time I think I'll check and cover it the last 10 min. if needed. Also, I think doing smaller tartlets (like Audax's) would help with the middle not being done...

I made some low sugar blueberry jam. I just used the Ball no-sugar pectin recipe and added 1 cup of sugar to the whole batch. It worked nicely. I think a tarter jam could have worked well too. Cranberry, apricot, etc. I wouldn't mind trying it again, especially if I were to do mini-tartlets. I think that would be quite nice.


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 (My homemade stuff didn't need any warming)
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).

Friday, June 19, 2009

White Chocolate Blondies with Goodies

I got the base of the recipe from Picky Palate's White Chocolate Butterfinger Blondies, but I made a number of modifications since I didn't have butterfingers on hand! I made these for a funeral today and one of the people in charge of the food hounded me until I got her the recipe! I was in such a rush to get them to the church on time, I didn't get a picture. Matt said he really liked them too.

White Chocolate Blondies with Goodies
1/2 C. butter
1 1/2 C. white chocolate chips

1 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 C. flour (I used 1 C. wheat and 1 C. white with good results)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C. coconut
3/4 C. chopped walnuts

4 eggs
4 Tbsp sour cream

Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350* F
  2. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl. Stir in white chips until melted and smooth. You may have to nuke it a little after you add the chips to help them melt.
  3. In a large bowl add the sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and sour cream. Pour into the dry ingredients along with the melted white chip mixture. Mix until just combined. Incorporate the semi-sweet chips, coconut, and walnuts.
  4. Pour into a 9X13 baking dish lined with foil that's been sprayed with cooking spray (for easy clean up. You don't have to do that. Just remember to spray your dish regardless.).
  5. Bake for 30-35 min. or until toothpick comes clean from center. Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool before cutting.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June Daring Cook: Dumpling/Potstickers

This month's challenge was hosted by Jen from Use Real Butter. Thanks for a great challenge! I really enjoyed this one.

I've made potstickers before, but this challenge was still great since I've never made my own wrappers before. Final results: Matt and I loved how the wrappers turned out. We didn't love the pork filling recipe, but it wasn't bad.

I was a little over ambitious and also made vegetable sesame pancake sandwiches (as found at The Dumpling House in NYC). I made that all from scratch as well. While the dinner was quite successful, between the two things it took about 6 hours of cooking after I got home from church!

I steamed the dumplings in a metal basket lined with cabbage leaves.
That worked nicely except I put a few too many in at once and they kind of stuck together.

Here is our whole dinner. The sesame "pancake" bread worked really great after I added a whole lot of extra flour! It was liquid goo after the first rise so I added flour until I could actually handle it. Part of the problem was attempting to do it in the bread maker like the recipe says. Just didn't work the flour in well enough for some reason. I should have just used my KitchenAid.

Final product was really great though. We stuffed it with yellow squash, red onions, zucchini, and carrots. The sauce on it could have used a little help, but it was still good. We served the dumplings with soy sauce and a Chinese red chili sauce.

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling:

1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried - rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches - or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for worksurface

dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.