Thursday, 27 November 2014

Tarte Bourdaloue - Frangipane Tart & Raspberry Infused Poached Pears

Having discovered that almond's are fabulous, I'm on a roll with exploring a world I've so along avoided and this week its frangipane! At that, a frangipane tart topped off with some beautifully tasty pears poached in raspberries. This tart is a flavour explosion of the utmost best! I promise!

So I got a Skype message whilst at work from Richard saying this tart was delish; at 10am. I know, terrible behaviour, sweets for breakfast! To top it off I turned up home after work finding that Richard had ploughed into a rather hefty two slices of this and had another after dinner! He even stated it was my best bake yet and the poor sod gets to eat a lot of cake, hard life for him right?! So if that's not a testament to just how delicious this tart is, then I just don't know what it. I think the charm of it really is the unusual flavour combinations, things you wouldn't be likely to throw together but they just work a total treat, you won't be disappointed with this one trust me, and it's super easy to knock up. Perfect!

So if you're not aware of the Simple and In Season round up it's a great way to learn about seasonal produce and to get inspiration from other brilliant bakers - so this months theres lot's of great ingredients on the menu hosted over at this month with the full roundup posted in the coming few days at!

Frangipane Tart & Raspberry Infused Poached Pears
Sweet Pastry
90g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
250g plain flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
Based on a 9-inch tart tin

  1. 125g unsalted butter, softened
  2. 125g caster sugar
  3. 150g ground almonds
  4. 2 eggs, room temperature
  5. 1 tbsp plain flour
Raspberry Infused Poached Pears
3 pears - I used what I had and that was 3 split in half
 120g raspberries 
700g water
350g sugar
You can make these a day ahead to make them easier and firmer to work with later. the amount of raspberries isn't strict, I just used a punnet and the flavour came through excellently
I'd start with the poached pears and whilst they simmer you can whack up the pastry, chill it and then make the frangipane whilst that chills and the pears poach and you can either bake everything together or go for the blindbaking option which I've gone for in this bake, but it's not essential - go with what you're comfortable with and have time for

Raspberry Infused Poached Pears
1. Prepare the pears by peeling them and cutting them into half, try not to use pears that are too ripe or they'll fall apart and go mushy - one of mine did!
2. Bring the water and sugar to the boil so the sugar dissolves and then add in the raspberries and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes to get the flavours out
3. Add in the pear and simmer for roughly 20 minutes - you don't want them going too soft so adjust your poaching times to how ripe your pears are, the firmer the longer you'll need to poach
4. Remove from the heat and allow everything to cool down - leave the pears in as they'll take on the pink colour from the raspberries and infuse the flavours more
5. Once they've cooled down and when you're ready place them into the pie just drain them and dabbed them down with some kitchen roll and leave to dry for a couple minutes so they're easier to handle. You can cut small in slices into them or leave them whole (if you want, purely aesthetic).

Sweet Pastry
6. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, until light and combined - about 3 minutes or so - or go for the rubbing-in hand-on's technique, whichever suits you
7. Add the egg and yolks to the mix and work it into the butter and sugar
8. Add the flour into the mix gently working the mix into a ball but being mindful to not overwork the pastry otherwise it won't be short but elastic
9. Flour a surface and work the dough into a ball. I flattened mine out a little so it would chill a bit faster and make it easier for putting into the tart tin at this point. So once it's either in a ball or flattened out a little, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to firm up a little
10. You can blind bake the pastry prior to baking - which recommend - or choose to assemble everything together and bake all at once. If you're blind baking, roll out the dough and press the dough into the tart tin, prick the base and then chill for 20 minutes (this help's the pastry to not shrink as it bakes which I learnt on my first attempt!) and when ready for baking preheat the oven to 170C cover with baking paper and place some baking beans in the tin and bake for 15-20 minutes and then remove from the oven. If you have the frangipane ready keep the oven on and up the temperature to 180C.

11. In a bowl, beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy, and then gradually add the eggs, adding the next only once the previous is combined - don't beat to high or it'll split.
12. Fold in the ground almonds and flour.

Assemble & Bake
13. Preheat the oven to 180C. Drain and dabbed down the poached pears with some kitchen roll
14. Either line the tart tin with the pastry if you haven't blind-baked; and if you have then start piping the frangipane
15. I found it easier to pipe the frangipane on to the tart base given it's sticky texture, so either pipe or spoon onto the pastry
16. Carefully place the poached pears into the frangipane, place them in every so slightly and then if you have some take some flaked almonds and sprinkle them over the tart
17. Bake for 30-40 minutes - if you've got a really thick frangipane you'll need a longer baking time - just keep an eye on it from the 30 minute mark. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before removing from the tin

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Apricot Battenberg

 Now, I have something to confess, until this cake, I've never actually had a battenberg. Shocker right? I've always liked the way they look, but that's as far as the interest went for me. I've never been a fan of marzipan, not a fan of strong almond flavours, although I love almonds themselves, there's something about an almond flavour from an essence or extract that tends to just make my tongue curl up! So after ignoring the batternberg requests for a while, I had to give in for Rich's birthday and we needed something tasty and compact for our trip away and this was the perfect treat for our cycles across Cornwall.

So given my strong dislike for almond flavours, I needed to take a careful approach with this one. So first off, marzipan, the dreaded marzipan, I would just cringe at the thought. So I thought I'd have a crack at a homemade alternative! Literally a completely different marzipan experience, and now having made my own, I like, and maybe even love marzipan! Mission accomplished. There really is no comparison between homemade and shop bought, I hated marzipan before having a go at this, but I found myself munching away as I made my own, so I highly recommend having a go at your own if you're a marzipan skeptic like me.

Apricot Battenberg 

Almond Cake
175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
60g ground almonds
3 medium eggs
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
pink/orange colouring - ensure it's bake safe, otherwise it'll go orange like mine, which is fine as it goes with the apricot
Using a 20cm/8in square tin. I used some cardboard and greaseproof paper to create a division in the tin; so  cut a piece of cardboard long enough so that it'll wedge into the tin creating a divider, cover this in tinfoil and  wedge into the middle then greaseproof/baking paper line the rest of the tin; The Daring Kitchen has some great pictured instructions if my waffling does no help!

Jar of apricot jam - I used Bonne Maman
Dried apricots - as many as you want, I packed as many in as I could
Mint leaves

120g icing sugar, plus extra for kneading and rolling
120g golden caster sugar
260g ground almonds
2 eggs, medium size, lightly beaten
1 tsp of brandy, if you're feeling a little adventurous and boozy
I went for the cooked method for this cake simply because I wanted to ensure the eggs were stable given that we were off camping, and given the morning moisture that comes with camping I didn't want to take any chances. Typically the high sugar content of marzipan works as a preventative for bacteria to develop at room temperature so you'll generally be alright with the uncooked method which requires you to just mix the above together and knead into a ball, chill to stiffen and use when need, the uncooked method tends to be easier to work with than the cooked counterpart.
If your going homemade Marzipan, start with this so you have plenty of time to chill and let it firm up for rolling. 
1. Sift the icing sugar and caster sugar into a bowl - one suitable for sitting above a pan of simmering water. Put a pan of water on the heat and get it barely simmering, too hot and the eggs will scramble
2. Add the egg to the bowl and then whisk the mixture for roughly 10 minutes until you have something thick and fluffy in texture
3. Remove from the heat and then add in the brandy if you're using and then allow the mixture to cool but keep whisking it gently
4. Once cooled slightly you can add in the ground almonds, dust a surface with icing sugar and then knead the mixture to form a firm pastey ball
5. Wrap and chill until needed

Sponge Cake
6. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and prepare the tin according to the notes above
7. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, butter, sugar, ground almonds, eggs, extracts and baking powder - this cake works fine with the all in one mixing method. Beat together the ingredients until it's smooth
8. Split the mix into two if you're colouring them and then add the colouring - remember bake safe colouring, lots of colouring now will disappear once baked, like mine, the batter was a neon pink and I got an orange cake, which in this case, worked out much nicer
9. Pour the batters into separate parts of the makeshift divided tin and then bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Then allow to cool in the tin for a short while before moving onto a wire rack

10. Once the cakes are cooled, trim them down to size so they're equal rectangles. Leftover sponge can be frozen and used as a crumb coating on other cakes - no wasting please!
12. Roll out the marzipan long enough in length and wide enough so that it'll cover the cake
11. Warm the jam up a little so it's easier to spread. Brush the jam onto the marzipan; I chopped up some more dried apricots and put them in the jam
13. Lay two layers of cake alongside on another - different colours - and make sure you get plenty of jam between the layers sides. Then get some more jam and spread on the top of the layers and then add the last two cake layers ontop making sure you alternate them to give them a checkerboard effect
14. Trim the marzipan to the length of the cakes and then carefully lift the marzipan and smooth over the cake using your hands
15. Transfer to a plate or stand with the marzipan joint on the bottom and then throw on some apricots and mint leaves - the mint surprisingly really complimented the apricot!

I sliced the cake up and froze half of it - which comes in handy for throwing in to our bags on a long cycle for a tasty energy boost! It'll keep well for a month.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Bavarian Apple Tart

It's that time of the year again, where the hot chocolates, mulled wine and spiced cakes come back into play, and to be honest it's my favourite time of the year. The warmth and the comfort that can come from food during the beautiful autumn season just makes me so happy. And I just love everything about autumn, the colours trees go, kicking leaves as you go for walks, the frosty grass in the mornings and that overly satisfying cup of tea when you get in from the cold.
So as autumn fully starts to set in, what could beat a good old twist on an apple tart; full of spice, sweet crumbly pastry and delicious cream cheese. Yes, this is a Bavarian apple tart, and it is oh so good. This tart really is autumn and warmth on a plate, it's rich, creamy, sweet and so simple to make. 

I've always been a bit apprehensive about making pastry, it just never really goes well for me; it falls apart, there's never enough, it's greasy, it's crumbly, every problem, I've had it. This bake however, was probably one of the first in a long time I've got it right, wehey!
So I've decided to enter my first ever competition with this bake! It's the Rix Recipe Competition which you can find a link to here if you want to get involved - Basically every month the food team at Rix choose a scrummy seasonal ingredient and create a recipe and then challenge you to get creative with the seasonal ingredient. It's a great idea, lots of room for creativity and what better than using seasonal produce, which is something until recently I never truly understood the beauty of! 
The only thing I'm missing is the aga cooker, but don't worry that's the big kitchen dream for the house in the country one day; they're just such beautiful things aren't they?! I recommend getting involved, something new every month and I reckon this competition will be a great one to in the loop with and seeing the great ideas and creations others have and I really enjoyed having a play around with a couple of recipes and appreciating seasonal produce. 
Going on the theme of seasonal too, I've come across a great blog, which emphasises the love of all things food and seasonal too! Each month is a Simple and in Season collective of recipes using the best ingredients the month has got to give us, it's a great way to get involved with other bloggers and getting some seasonal inspiration too! 

Bavarian Apple Tart
based on a 9-inch tart tin
Sweet Pastry
90g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
250g plain flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
any leftovers just wrap them up and freeze them - could come in handy for small pies

Spiced Cream Cheese Filling
50g caster sugar
70g brown sugar
30g plain flour
350g cream cheese 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
full fat cream cheese holds itself much better than anything else

2 tbsp Lemon Juice
500ml Cold Water
Roughly 5 apples of equal size, use your favourites 
have some more apples on hand in case you run out for the top layer, it's one of those one's you've just got to gage as you go along

1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, until light and combined - about 3 minutes or so - or go for the rubbing-in hand-on's technique, whichever suits you
2. Add the egg and yolks to the mix and work it into the butter and sugar
3. Add the flour into the mix gently working the mix into a ball but being mindful to not overwork the pastry otherwise it won't be short but elastic
4. Flour a surface and work the dough into a ball. I flattened mine out a little so it would chill a bit faster and make it easier for putting into the tart tin at this point. So once it's either in a ball or flattened out a little, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to firm up a little
Cream Cheese & Apples
Whilst the pastry is chilling prepare the cream cheese filling and apples. It took me ages to get through the apples so maybe start with those, the lemon water solution will stop them browning
5. In a large bowl mix the cold water and lemon juice together - this will be used to put the apple slices in to stop them browning whilst you're cutting them up and during the tart prep - sneaky little trick! The citric acid helps to prevent oxidisation which cause apples, and pears also, to go brown
6. Cut the apples in half and then into quarters and thinly slice them to about 0.3cm or as thin as you can get them so they can be layered ontop of one another
7. Preheat the oven to 230C/210C fan and make a start on the cream cheese filling
8. In a bowl add the cream cheese and sugar and beat on a medium speed until combined and then add the egg, flour, vanilla and spices and mix until well combined again
9. Take the pastry out, lightly flour a surface and then roll out into a large round shape, large enough so it can cover your tart tin and then spread onto the tin and trim off any excess
10. Pour the cream cheese into the tart tin and spread out evenly
11. Remove the apples from the lemon water solution and using a towel dab them dry as you start to layer them onto the tart. Start with one and tuck the next underneath or on top, just get those skins on the top as they
12. Bake the tart at 230C/210C fan for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 190C/170C fan and continue to bake for 25 minutes, until you start getting a nice browning colour
13. Remove from the oven and cool a bit before removing from the tin.
Keep refrigerated 

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