I’m a sucker for a newborn.
My friend gave birth to a boy recently. He’s cute as the cutest newborn you ever did see. Everytime I visit I make a mental note to discuss with Mr B when baby number 3 should make their appearance. Then I remember all the reasons not to grace our house with another small wailing person:
- Loss of sleep
- More stretch marks
- Possible future incontinence on my part
- (More) guilt over incompetence at breast feeding
- Alcoholism on Mr Bs part
- More plastic crap strewn across the house
- Wearing snot/vomit as a shoulder adornment for another few years
- Continuing to think Hush Puppies are acceptable foot attire for evening drinks with glamorous friends (with each child my shoe choices have grown comfier)
Even with this damning list I can’t help but think it might be fun too. Or is that just a vicious lie parents of 3+ children tell you in the hope you’ll join their sleep deprived club?
What tenuous link does all this have to a bakewell tart with a vanilla crust? None at all. I could say this feeds a very large family but that would be weak. It does however make enough pastry for two tarts as I really don’t see the point of making pastry if your efforts don’t furnish the freezer for a rainy day. This tart feeds 8 if you serve with ice cream. Or a regular, boring sized family of 4 with leftovers for lunch boxes.
Don’t be put off by the in depth instructions. I just think it’s often the seemingly simplest things that are easiest to mess up so thought verbose was better than scant.
Makes 1 x 20ish cm tart and enough pastry for making another tart on a rainy day. Just wrap well and freeze.
For the pastry:
- 500g plain flour
- 100g icing sugar
- 250g cold butter cut into cubes
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 large eggs
For the frangipane topping:
- 150g soft butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 150g ground almonds
- 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 1 jar of jam (I used gooseberry and strawberry made by Mr B but you really can use anything. This isn’t about authenticity. Apricot is nice for instance.)
- A handful of flaked untoasted almonds
- Icing sugar – about 200g
- The juice of one fresh lemon
First make the pastry. Whizz the flour and icing sugar in a food processor (this is my method of sieving) then add the cubes of cold butter and pulse until you have a fine breadcrumb appearance. I always open up the top of the food processor and have a dig about with a knife to make sure there are no lumps of fat hiding near the blade. Then tip the lot into a large bowl and add both eggs and the seeds scraped from a vanilla pod. (I know you know this but I feel the need to write it just in case… don’t throw the vanilla pod away, pop it into your sugar pot and you’ll have fragrant tea forever.) No need to whisk the eggs first.
Take a normal table knife and use to stir the pastry mix. Then use your hand to pull the mixture together. Don’t add water or milk or anything. As long as you’ve used large eggs there’s enough liquid to pull the pastry together. Don’t overwork the pastry – by this I mean don’t madly knead the pastry – just pull it together with your hands until you have a yellow mass, all the same colour and with no bits of flour etc hanging about.) Put the pastry into a plastic bag, wrap tightly and then put in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes – but I often leave it overnight. Lazy old pastry liking a rest and all that.
When you’re ready to bake the bakewell, roll out the pastry onto a floured work surface (this pastry is pretty well behaved and only needs a little flour for rolling) – I would roll to about 3mm thick as I like a good crust but roll as thick as you like. I can’t bear pastry thickness snobbery. Take your 20ish cm tart tin and line with pastry. Trim the edges with a knife or, even easier, a pair of scissors. Push the pastry into all the nooks and crannies before you do this to make sure you get an even finish. Pop the tins in the freezer for 15 minutes, preheat the oven to Gas 4 and make the frangipane whilst you’re waiting.
Take the soft butter and sugar and cream using a handheld electric mixer/a wooden spoon/a freestanding mixer until lighter in colour than when you started and fluffy. Then take your eggs (and extra yolk) and whisk with a fork – then dribble into the creamed mixture a teaspoon at a time and beat after each addition. I use a freestanding mixer to make my frangipane as it’s so so much easier. Once all the egg has been incorporated then turn the mixer off and add the ground almonds. Then mix the lot with a metal spoon. You don’t need to be gentle but don’t beat the hell out of it either.
Take the pastry out of the freezer and spread jam on the bottom of the pastry – about 5mm thick. Then spoon the frangipane over the top being sure to cover all the jam. Don’t put frangipane all the way to the top of the pastry sides or it’ll spill out of the top and your tart will look slovenly. This does not affect the taste in any way of course so no matter if it does spill.
Pop in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and scatter some flaked almonds over the top. Pop back in the oven for another 20 ish minutes. You’re looking for a golden brown top and pastry that’s neither yellow looking nor dark brown. Watch it like a hawk for the last ten minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. If you want you can decorate with drizzles of glace icing once it’s cool. So much nicer made with fresh lemon juice… Just take the juice and add icing sugar until you have a good, thick consistency. A freezer bag is perfect for drizzling icing without getting an icing bag out. Put the icing into one, squeeze into the corner and then snip a tiny bit of said corner off and away you go. Just make sure you snip near the tart to avoid decorating your work top.
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