I was a late developer on a few fronts. I didn’t kiss a boy until about a year after all my friends. I was terrified of kissing boys. It didn’t matter how many times I practised on my hand or on my Jason Donavon poster, I still didn’t feel properly prepared.
I also believed in the Tooth Fairy (note the capitals please; it’s a mark of respect) until 1988. Which is late compared to my more savvy classmates. As for Father Christmas, well, I think I was 9 when the dreadful news was delivered by my twin buddies. They had an older brother who knew about these things. It was a sad day.
When will I stop being a late developer? I think it’s a perpetual state. As soon as I catch up on one front, another area lets me down. For example, recently I stayed in a hotel with Mr B and found myself, on the morning of check out, stuffing the free biscuits and soap into our suitcase. I actually hid them under some clothes in case I might fall as I left the hotel and expose my booty. We don’t need free biscuits. We especially don’t need free soap as we already have a huge basket of hotel soaps at home. I think I’m stuck in my student years where I used to rejoice in freebies.
This tart is an alternative Christmassy pudding you could serve to guests hot or cold. It’s very filling according to Mr B so he suggests you slice it very thinly. This tart is also a fine alternative offering to Father Christmas if you feel he might be a bit, well, bored of mince pies this year.
This is an enhanced and slightly messed about with version of my regular Bakewell. And I know it’s not really a Bakewell, you can call it a frangipane tart instead if the inproper use of Bakewell offends.
Makes 1 x 20ish cm tart with maybe some pastry scraps to bake separately and munch on.
For the pastry:
- 250g plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 125g cold butter cut into cubes
- 1 large egg
For the frangipane topping:
- 150g soft butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 150g ground almonds
- 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 320g mince meat, that’s just shy of a regular jar – add the rest to ice-cream
- Icing sugar – about 200g
- The juice of one fresh lemon
- The zest of one tangerine
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 the egg. No need to whisk the egg first.
Take a normal table knife and use to stir the pastry mix until it forms large blobby crumbs. Then use your hand to pull the mixture together. Don’t add water or milk or anything. As long as you’ve used a large egg 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 tart, roll the pastry out 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 (mine is loose bottomed for easy removal later) and slip it under the pastry by pulling the pastry up from the work surface. (Of course feel free to transfer the pastry to your tin whichever way you prefer but this is mine.) Push the pastry into the edges of the tin and into the sides then run a rolling pin over the top of the tin. A very quick and easy way to trim the pastry. Pop the tin into the freezer for 15 minutes, preheat the oven to Gas 4, with one shelf in the middle of the oven and make the frangipane whilst you’re waiting.
Take the soft butter and sugar and cream together 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 a layer of mincemeat on the bottom of the pastry – about 5mm thick. Mine was hard to spread so I gave it a quick blast in the microwave to loosen it a little. Then spoon the frangipane over the top being sure to cover the mincemeat and reach the sides of the tart. If you are using a smaller tart tin you ‘ll find you have too much frangipane – don’t fill the tart all the way to the top of the pastry sides or it’ll spill out over the top during baking. This does not affect the taste in any way of course.
Pop in the oven on the middle shelf (not on a baking sheet please) and bake for 40ish 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.
To decorate, just take the lemon juice and add icing sugar until you have a good, thick consistency then grate tangerine zest into it. Stir well and ice your tart when it’s completely cool. (If you are impatient like me and ice when still warm be sure to put straight in the freezer or all the icing will run off the sides.)
A freezer bag is perfect for drizzling icing without getting an icing bag out. Place the bag over a pint glass with one corner pointing down, spoon the icing into it, squeeze into the corner, remove from glass 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.
I added white chocolate stars to my Bakewell too, because I thought Father Christmas would appreciate this extra festive gesture.