Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge ~ Bakewell Tart

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.

Now this is one dessert I knew nothing about! But I have to be honest...I've never met a dessert that I didn't like, so I wasn't scared. The ingredients were the kind that you can't really go wrong with...pastry crust, almonds, jam, what's not to like?

Since you may know as little as I do about this traditional British dish, here is a little history provided by Jasmine and Annemarie.

This tart, like many of the world's great foods has its own mythic beginnings…or several mythic beginnings. Legend has it in 1820 (or was it in the 1860s?) Mrs. Greaves, landlady of The White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to produce a pudding for her guests. Either her instructions could have been clearer or he should have paid better attention to what she said because what he made was not what she asked for. The cook spread the jam on top of the frangipane mixture rather than the other way around. Or maybe instead of a sweet rich shortcrust pastry case to hold the jam for a strawberry tart, he made a regular pastry and mixed the eggs and sugar separately and poured that over the jam—it depends upon which legend you follow. Regardless of what the venerable Mrs. Greaves’ cook did or didn’t do, lore has it that her guests loved it and an ensuing pastry-clad industry was born. The town of Bakewell has since played host to many a sweet tooth in hopes of tasting the tart in its natural setting.

And here is the recipe

Bakewell Tart

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 (Suzy's note: I hope this means all purpose flour because that's whatI used)
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
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.

Here is mine ready to go. I used some strawberry freezer jam that I made this week.

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.

Here's mine...a little too dark?

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).

It was very tasty and "homey". I liked that the frangipane wasn't too overwhelmingly almondy like the almond paste you buy in the store. A dollop of whipped cream was perfect on top. Randy isn't a sweets lover but he even he said it was good. Hopefully he will help me eat it! I should have halved the recipe.

It was a fun challenge and I'm looking forward to what next month has in store!!

Sweet Strawberries!

The conditions this spring and early summer must have been perfect for sweetening strawberries. My little patch always gives me tasty goodies to snack on, but this year they are bigger and sweeter and juicier than ever before. I am very stingy with my flower garden space, but I am so happy I was generous enough to let the strawberries have a place to call home. They do have cute little flowers so they kind of do double duty! Here they are as they look in the spring. They have to make room for the green onions and irises too!

So, as you might imagine I have been eating a lot of strawberries lately! This post will probably be the first of a few that feature the sweet red berries. I think strawberries are a natural pairing with crepes. I was looking around for just the perfect crepe recipe, then remembered I had a tried and true one in my recipe files that would work just fine. Sometimes I think I have to recreate the wheel at every meal. I don't remember where I got the recipe, but it is easy and has never failed me yet. I did make one tiny alteration in that I substituted Grand Marnier for the called for vanilla. Nothing earth shatteringly different, but definitely gave them a hint of citrusy sweetness.

Crepes with Grand Marnier Soaked Strawberries

For strawberries:

1 cup sliced strawberries
2 tbls Grand Marnier liquer
2 tbls sugar

Combine all ingredients and let sit in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

For the crepes:
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp Grand Marnier (or vanilla)
1 tsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbls sugar

In a blender combine all ingredients. Heat a 6 or 8 in skillet over medium heat. Spray pan with cooking spray. Remove pan from heat and pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter in the center and tilt to cover bottom of pan. Return to heat.

Cook 1 minute or until light brown on bottom. Flip and cook on the other side about 30 seconds.I use my fingers to help the "flip".

I cut squares of wax paper and layer the crepes in a plate as they are finished.

It may seem like overkill but respray pan between each crepe. You will get into a pattern and will know approximately how much batter to pour in the pan without measuring. Recipe makes 12-16 crepes. They can be stored by wrapping in plastic wrap and then sealing in an airtight container or bag. Will keep in frig for 2-3 days or in freezer for a month. To reheat, that at room temperature. Can be reheated in pan or microwave.

To serve I rolled the crepes up and pour strawberries on top. They are also excellent stuffed with a cream cheese/sugar mixture.

It's a few weeks away, but I want to extend an invitation to anyone that would like to attend my virtual Ice Cream Social on the weekend of July 11th-12th. Come and share your ice cream themed posts! Anything goes...share your favorite ice cream recipes, ice cream treats (homemade or not), ice cream dishes, or anything even remotely ice cream related! I'll provide the sprinkles and whipped cream!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flashback and Foodie Friday ~Fresh Fig Upside Down Cake

As usual for a Friday I am flashing back..this time to last summer when my parents came to visit and they brought a couple of gallons of fresh figs with them! What a yummy gift. With a few of those figs I made this tasty cake.

Fresh Fig Upside Down Cake

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces butter, softened, in all
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger (my addition)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk


Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, toss the figs with the sugar. In a hot cast iron skillet, melt 1/2 stick of the butter. Saute the figs for 2 minutes.

For the batter: In a mixing bowl, cream the remaining stick of butter and brown sugar. Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon. Combine vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture. Mix well. Pour the cake batter evenly over the figs. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the edges of the skillet.

Cool for about 30 minutes, then invert over a large platter. Cut into individual servings and serve with a scoop of ice cream.

I took a picture of this beautiful dragon fly around the same time.

If you have something you'd like to flashback, flowers, family, fun..join me! Post your link here and check out the others links as well!

Also go check out the other great posts at Designs by Gollum's Foodie Friday event.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let There Be White!

My friend Kathleen at Cuisine Kathleen is hosting an All White event. She is great at creating beautiful tablescapes and challenged us to set an all white table. I am soooo very lacking in tablesetting skills. I did set the table many nights when I was growing up and my mom has some pretty linens and china as well, but as far as being creative...yikes I'm not good with it. Kathleen is inspiring though and I wanted to give it a try, so I pulled out all of the whites I could find. Let's say the result is a very ecclectic "casual" white table. I really wanted to prepare all white food as well, but life got in the way :-). I did come up with a few "white" edibles and I hope Kathleen will indulge me in a little tongue in cheekiness!!

I picked these plates up at TJ Maxx not that long ago, along with the glasses that seem to match somehow...same cute little blossoms. The soup bowls were a Goodwill find a couple of years ago and the other white bowls..we will call them my salad bowls were bought at Wal-Mart not long ago. The napkin rings date back to my college days and I believe I got them at Steinmart.

I got the cheese dome at Goodwill as well..I'm frugal :-)

So my food..umm..I got a little creative....
Rice Salad?

And bean soup?

A little bread wannabe on the side. Some very white (and blue) gorgonzola and some milk to wash it all down.

White chocolate for dessert...

Okay...Lame!!!!! I know!!!! :-) Lets move on to some whites I knew a little better.



Japanese iris

A pesky but pretty weed


Rose...the name escapes me at the moment


And some good old fashioned daisies

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Fathers Day!

This Father's Day I am not able to be with my Dad. I'm out here in Washington state and he has been at a golf tournament all week and is travelling back home this weekend. So at least he has been doing something he enjoys! If the weather cooperates my Dad is on the golf course everyday and even sometimes when the weather doesn't cooperate :-) Here he is last summer when my parents came to visit and we went up to Snoqualmie Falls.

I did a little Mother's Day post, so I definitely don't want to slight my Dad on his big day. He's always there for me no matter what. He has even been known to fly out here just to bring me some King Cake! Really..he flew out here..dropped the cake off and flew back to Louisiana the next day. Good thing my brother works for Continental!

I don't have a lot of older pictures of my Dad but I love the ones I do have! Here he is as a teenager...maybe the class photographer? I'm not sure. He still loves to take lots of pictures but he's retired the old brownie. It (or one like it) is still somewhere at my parents house.

Here is my Dad with my PaPa Cocky and my dad's oldest brother, my uncle Raymond. My dad looks like he was still in high school and maybe my uncle was graduating? Suit and tie...seems official!

My dad is from a family of fisherman and they used to own a camp on the bayou. His mother's father was a fishing guide and my Dad would go along with him sometimes. Here is a picture of my Dad, grandfather and one of my Dad's younger brothers, Leroy who we call Uncle Bird.
They look pretty proud of their string of fish huh?

Here's one in more recent years of my Dad, his sister Gussie (myAuntie), my MaMa Robin and Uncle Bird. Not only is Daddy a great father but he was a great son too. This was taken on Mother's Day while we were waiting for a table for lunch at a place in Washington, La. called The Steamboat Warehouse. My Dad and his brothers and sisters always made sure to make a big deal over days like this with my grandmother. Of course..look how sweet she could you not make a big deal about her!

My Dad has never let me down on a big day of mine either. This is one of my favorite pictures ever of him....blowing bubbles on my wedding day.

My Dad has a funny sense of he is with my Mom, the love of his life, on New Year's Eve a few years ago.

And his sense of humor really comes through with his grandkids. My niece Emily can get him to do anything. This was one time when we were visiting with my grandmother in the nursing home.

And this is a favorite pose she makes him do, chunking the Uncle Bird got in on the action too. All of the brothers are cut ups.

Speaking of is Daddy with his first great grandbaby Ryley

One of the sweetest things my Dad has done for me (among many many things!) is to buy my little Jigs for me. He knew I really missed my dog Weezer and wanted to fill that void so he had Randy go shopping and pick out a dog here in Washington, then when we went to Louisiana for Christmas he had this card and a picture of Jigs in it and said he knew I liked pictures so much that he wanted to give me a picture of this little dog. I was so goofy and clueless I put the card back in envelope and laughed and started opening the rest of my presents. I thought he was "getting me back" for the time I put a picture of a birdhouse in a card of his and told him I was going to make it......years later I still never did. So after 10 minutes or so went by they had to tell me the card meant I was getting that little puppy. Of course I burst into tears!

But of course was very very happy the day I picked him up!

I don't really have any recipes to share from my Dad like I did from my Mom, but he is a very good cook and has a few specialties. His BBQ is well known and requested by many. He has BBQ'd on a big scale for charity events and has a hard time toning that down for family events!

I hope you have a great day Daddy and get a little hot tubbin in!

I'd also like to wish my husband a very Happy Fathers Day! Here he is with his son Chase and his Dad a couple of years ago.

And with his little puppy "son" Jigs

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flashback and Foodie Friday ~Madeleines

This weeks flashback is to Dec 2007. I had recently purchased a couple of madeleine pans and tried out a recipe shared by my friend Carol at There's Always Thyme for Cooking. They are so rich and buttery. And really cute too! If you're looking for a reliable recipe, give this one a try.

Bon Appetit, January 2000

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter and flour pan for large madeleines (about 3x1 1/4 inches). Using electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.

Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

Dust cookies with powdered sugar.

How about a flower flashback from June of '07

So Sorry I was in such a hurry to get this up last night I forgot Mr. Linky! Here he is:

This will also be my entry into this weeks Foodie Friday event over at Design's by Gollum
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