Bakewell Tart and Delicious Traditions

Another season down and on to feeding the creative side of my brain!  I managed to end the tax season in my typical fashion of coming down with a really bad cold.  So much for hitting the ground running.  I am finally catching up with everything.  Unfortunately bills and things have to have a higher priority than blogging.  Boo.

Part of my inspiration this year for blogging is to bake or cook dishes that have a bit of family tradition.  I place a great deal of value on having a connection with the past as we go forward with the new generations.  I don’t like history forgotten.

A few weeks ago I asked my dad what treats his mum cooked or baked when he was growing up.  My Grandma is someone I’d love to go back in time and spend a day baking with.  She was incredibly smart and the ultimate multi-tasker.  I sometimes think she would read, watch telly, and do the cross word at the same time because her brain needed the high end exercise.  She passed away when I was very young but I have wonderful memories of her.

My dad responded with a list of things she would make like amazing homemade bread, sponge cake, and bramley apple pies.  She would also make bakewell tarts.  As this has been on my list for awhile I thought that would be a great place to start.

The recipe I used was from the Baking with Mary Berry baking book my sister gave me for my birthday.  It is actually pretty straight forward.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

In a mixing bowl add 1 1/2 cups of flour and 6 tablespoons of cold butter.  You will see this is not for the faint of heart when it comes to butter!

Bakewell tart 1 2016

Using a pastry fork blend the butter and flour until well blended.  You want it to look like small bread crumbs.  I found it weird that no salt was in the recipe.  It wasn’t too bad but next time I make it I would add about 1/4 tsp of salt.

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The next step is to add a bit of cold water at a time until the pastry comes together.  This part is hard to explain as you don’t want it too dry or too wet.  So keep adding until is just comes together.  This step always brings me back to when my dad taught me how to make pastry.  He learned from my Grandma.  I was an adult when he taught me but it was still fun standing side by side learning from him.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt 9 tablespoons (see what I mean?) and add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Cook for a minute or so.  Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

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A one large egg, beaten, 3/4 cup of rice flour, and 1/2 tsp of almond extract.  Mix well.

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Set aside.  Grease a tart pan that has a loose bottom.  The recipe called for 7 1/2in/19cm diameter pan.  I don’t have one of those but I have a rectangle one roughly the same area size.  Roll out the pastry and lightly press into the pan.

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Trim the excess and set aside.  Spread raspberry jam on the bottom of the pastry.  I kept it a bit too thin this time round but I will put more in.

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Pour in the filling and then cut the excess pastry in to strips and place them in a criss cross pattern.  Brush with milk.

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Bake for about 45-50 minutes until golden brown and the filling is set.

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If you would like dust it with icing sugar.

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This isn’t overly complicated and is worth the effort to make.  The almond and raspberry flavours are a great pairing.  I hope I did my Grandma proud.  🙂

Christmas Cake part 2

Brrr.  This morning was 7 degrees F (-14 C).  Had to drag out the snow pants to walk the dogs.  Winter is definitely upon us as we’ve had 2 snow storms since Christmas.  We were spoiled last winter with little snow and reasonable temps.  I think we would be pushing our luck to get that again this year!

Once you’ve baked the Christmas cake it is time to prepare it for decoration.  For the next few weeks the cake has to be “soaked” prior to decoration.  To start cut slits in the top of the cake.

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What I did was alternate between orange juice and spiced rum.  I did make a rookie mistake in how I did the slit and ended up doing this.

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So I learned to take a dinner knife, insert it, and hold it open a bit to pour the liquid down the slits.  Just a bit at a time.  I did it every few days for 3 weeks.  One day with juice then the next time with rum.

A couple of days prior to eating I start the decoration.  I do the marzipan holly leaves and berries the day before.  I cut out the shapes and form them and put them on forms or a cookie sheet. For the berries I just round into balls.  Then I dusted the pieces with pearl dust.

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The next day (and last!) I start putting it all together.  I spread apricot preserves on the top and sides of the cake.

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Then I roll out marzipan to cover the cake.  I made the mistake of using a less expensive marzipan to roll out vs what I used for decoration.  Next time I’ll get the good stuff as the cheaper stuff didn’t roll out very well so it looks like a patchwork quilt.

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Now is the time for the Royal frosting.  Take 3 egg whites and a tablespoon of lemon juice, blend together in the mixing bowl.  Gradually add 1lb 4oz of icing sugar.

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Blend until smooth.  It needs to be spreadable.  It does call for a bit of glycerine but for the life of me I couldn’t find any.  It came out ok though so I didn’t have any issues.  Pour onto cake.  It won’t pour quickly as it is thick.  A trick my mum taught me is to dip your knife into hot water as you go to help smooth the icing.

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Place the holly leaves and berries as you wish around the cake.  I spread a bit of icing on the back to act as a bit of glue.

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I then had to hold the cake in for a 2 1/2 hour drive over mountains and windy roads.  We got to my sister’s in one piece!

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I think the trickiest bit is not knowing how moist you are making the cake.  I think that will take practice.  My family enjoyed it though I may have made it too moist.  Just a smidge over the line.  🙂  But I will definitely make this again.