Fabulous frangipanie in a Bakewell Tart (errm…Pudding?)

June 27, 2009

I’ve been having a three day cook-a-thon on my days off from work this week. Having missed the last Daring Cooks challange date 😦 I thought I best get enguarde! And I’m a bit exhausted of cooking now, not to mention the gymming I’ve also been doing to make up for all the ‘tasting’ I’ve been doing.

Lovely Tarty Tarts

Lovely Tarty Tarts

 

This months Daring Cooks challange is a Bakewell Tart or, um pudding. It consists of a short pastry crust, homemade jam layer, and an almond frangipanie top layer, baked up in some cute little tart shells 🙂

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 was so excited to use my small size tart tins, with the removable bottoms (I’ve never had a removable bottom for tart shells, and it’s a bummer when you always break your tart shell into a ragged mess trying to get it out of a pie dish). Well I was excited, till I couldn’t find them. I searched hight and low, and do you know, mum was right, they were in the last place I left them! Silly me. So once I had my tins, I set about making up the dough for the shell and creating my jam filling. As I was just doing little tarts, I halved the recipe, and decided to try two types of filling, a Blueberry and rosemary jam and a bittersweet chocolate ganache with pear (basically to use up some cream in the fridge, and pears are lovely and in season now).

Four tiny tart tins

Four tiny tart tins

 

The idea of rosemary as a flavour in a fruit jam is one I’ve seen around a bit on the web, paired with peaches and nectarines mostly. As they’re not in season, I used frozen blueberries. I do like rosemary, and thought since herbs like lavendar and basil can be paired with strawberries, the same would go for other berries. To make the jam I empties some of the frozen blueberries into a small saucepan, poured in about 1/4 of sugar, juice of a lemon, a little water and about 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, more the young tips than the woody bits, as I thought the oils from those might leave a bitter taste to the finished product. Then I just simmered it down till it was thick like jam, and removed the rosemary. I should have whizzed and sieved the jam for a smoother filling like a traditional bakewell, but I like blueberries whole, but now that the bakewell tart is made, and well, a bit rustic, I’d probably try to make it smoother for next time.

Decorated Pastry

Decorated Pastry

The ganache was simple, melted bittersweet dark chocolate with some cream, leave to set a little out of the fridge. I had meant to pre-cook the pear, to soften it for the tart, but ended up using the normal side of my new juliene peeler (my #1 fave toy at the moment….we are eating a lot of stirfry’s at the moment 🙂  ) to shave off some pear, and then lay it atop the ganache once I’d spooned some into the pastry cases. It did have the effect of keeping the ganache from bubbling up  through the frangipanie, which was good.

P6240506

I had to put a lot of effort into the frangipanie mix, as I had almonds around, so decided to use those, blanch, dry and grind them up myself. The ground almonds for frangipanie are to be sieved, so it is light and very fine, like a flour, not heavy and grainy, as mine looked. I had so sieve, whizz, sieve, whizz, sieve, whizz a number of times before I was able to get all of the measured amount of almond through the sieve.

 

The finished tarts were very deliscious, as was the blueberry jam, and the ganache, just the right amount of bittersweet. Even so I think I would prefer strawberry to blueberry jam in the tart next time. There’s something about good old fashioned strawberry or raspberry in a bakewell tart. I wouldn’t make the pastry again though. I didn’t think it was anything special, and have tasted far nicer that I still have in my recipe book. But as for the frangipanie, it was Loooooovely!

Blueberry topping of a pear ganache tart

Blueberry topping of a pear ganache tart

Hopefully back with more soon, if work isn’t too hectic! And will let you know what else I cooked while I was off 🙂


D.d.d.delayed Dumplings

June 16, 2009

Oh no! late with my challange :(.

This is only the second daring cooks challange, and I’ve already managed to mix up the posting dates, and instead of posting on time on the 14th of this month, I’m thinking it’s the 17th! Aghhh! Oh well, I went ahead anyway.

cooked potstickers

cooked potstickers

The recipe was for potstickers, wontons, or asian style dumplings, call them what you will. I love asian dumplings, and have made some to steam using bought wonton skins before. Very time consuming stuffing and pleating the wrappers, but very yummy. Being cold weather I’ve been wanting to make dumplings of all sorts, and it’s a great challange to have to make the dough by hand, and a great oomphf to get and think on some tasty flavours to use.

 

The dumpling dough was made simply out of plain flour and hot water, mixed to form a dough, rested for a bit, then made into sausages, chopped into small pieces, and rolled into little wonton rounds. I was lazy, and wanted all the dumplings to be the same size for the teaspoon of filling, so I used my upturned pint glass to cut the rounds.

 

I had planned on making three flavours, well in advance of the posting date! But as I was caught short a few days out, I decided to scrap the vegetarian mushroom filling, as an extra run to the shops at this stage would not have been helpful! I stuck with my original plan of:

Dumpling #1: pork mince, diced apple, caramalized leek, ground ginger powder, ground garlic powder, oregano, dark soy, honey, bbq sauce, diced celery, chinese five spice powder

Dumpling #2: finely chopped green prawns, cooked cooled and mashed sweet potato, caramalized leek, sesame oil, chinese rice wine, oyster sauce, small portion pork mince (1/4 of amount of prawns), diced water chestnuts, salt

I didn’t really measure the ingredients. I was in a hurry to get it mixed and cooked, as the many dumplings that the recipe made could not be frozen for later, due to a shopping error of buying already pre frozen mince and prawns! Admittedly I was a little worried when the prawn mix smelt down right awful, really strongly of the wine and sauces used for flavouring, but maybe the potatoe sucked it all up, as once cooked they were lovely.

pleating on the edge

pleating on the edge

I proceeded to mix, then rolled and crimped the dough dumplings (very poorly, luckily it didn’t impact on taste!). I cooked them for dinner in the fry pan, geting a nice brown crunch underneath, and poached dumpling on top. I had them with soy sauce, lime and caster sugar sauce. Mum thought they were excellent, but preferred the pork dumplings. They must have went better with the pea and ham soup we had to start 🙂

fried bottoms

fried bottoms

There’s also a few pics of the cake for my friend Sarah’s birthday (which luckily I didn’t make late, haha!). She loves black forrest cake, so I got a recipe of a good one. It didn’t survive the car trip intact, there were some mouse seeping issues, but it faired much better than it would have, as the mouse custard already had extra cream whipped in to help stabilize it and make it pipable. Sometimes not having a candy thermometer is a real hastle. This time I can’t have cooked the mouse custard long enough for it to set up properly, but I was very frightened of curdling it, and wasting all those rich ingredients, like I’d done a week before in an attempt to make gelato from some leftover egg yolks and cream.  Thre’s the delicious result all the same 🙂 

Lovely layers...Mmmm, chocolate mouse, chocolate mouse :)

Lovely layers...Mmmm, chocolate mouse, chocolate mouse 🙂


Anything hot at the end of a long cold hike

June 10, 2009
The Trek, looking back where we came...seems impossible!

The Trek, looking back where we came...seems impossible!

Wedge tailed eagle

Wedge tailed eagle

I’ve been away from the computer for a while, work, exam study, boyfriend home from a stint up north for work, more exam study, changing stations for work, and oh yeah, the exam! But last weekend I was out and away hiking. Thereafter I was much to sore to walk, let alone type, especially with all the cuts from brushing through prickly bushes, making me look like I had a new kitten at home. I literally hobbled around for the first day back at work, seizing up if I sat still too long. It got a little better after that, but it took three days till I could start to move whole steps without pain, and sit down by bending my legs rather than leaning back and falling into it.

Dawn day 2

The group

The group

  Dawn day 2

The hike was the ridge walk in the Stirling Ranges in WA, starting, I”m not sure where, maybe Elen’s peak? Or the bottom atleast, and finishing at the Bluff Knoll carpark (after a rest and great view at the top of course). I went with two friends, Michelle and Naomi, as well as navigator extraordinary, and Michelle’s boyfriend, Steve. Steve not only navigated us through the unmarked walk, up and down the peaks, and around the side of the mountains, but also knew the right scout knots to tie to lower our packs down cliffs before we climbed down after them, and to tie the tarp to trees above us, before the wind blew it down halfway through the night. It was cold, it was steep, and I wondered if it was all going to be a bit much for my current fitness level when we first set off, but after a horendous first night on an exposed windy plateau on top of Elen peak, it did, believe it or not, get better, if not any easier as far as the climb and descent went. I have to say the worst for the legs was the first day hiking up Elen peak with 6 kg of water, plus a 12kg pack, and then the last 2 hrs slow descent down the steep stairs of Bluff Knoll, with our legs shaking like jelly and our knees screaming at the weight coming down on them. The bits in between with the great views, and where we got to de-pack and mountain climb, or atleast have trees and bushes nearby to use to haul ourselves up the side of the hills, were pretty amazing, as was the company around the small camp stove, and the warmth of my instant hot chocolate coming through my gloves to warm my hands after a hearty meal of instant pasta.

The Camp

The Camp

The Hike

The Hike

If you are considering the walk seeing some of these awesome photos, I advise some practise on steep hills, and with a full pack first. Also take ALL the water you need, as we found you could not rely on wells on the way for water. And go with good friends who know how to navigate, and are so selfless they will lend you the gortex wind proof jacket they have been carrying around in their heavy pack, just to keep you that little bit warmer. Thanks Steve for the warm jacket, thanks Michelle for keeping us fed, and thanks Noams for keeping our spirits up, and encouraging me to keep following one foot with the other.

The END!

The END!