Afternoon tea has been on my mind lately, and not just because I’m organising an epic high tea with some of my favourite food bloggers! From Victorian-era decadence with tiered cake stands and fine china to the more modest cup of tea and a few biscuits, I am sad that it has fallen by the wayside in the modern world. This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge stirred up these feelings even more.
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.
The June Challenge consisted of
• Making Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
• Making Almond Frangipane
• An option to make our own jam or curd filling
I was inspired by the gorgeous pears this winter, and decided to try my hand at making pear butter. Using Melissa’s post from The Traveller’s Lunchbox as a guide I got to work, cutting the recipe in half and substituting a vanilla bean for the cardamom. The final product was gorgeous and full flavoured, even though I had a little incident and
I kept the vanilla theme going throughout the whole tart, using vanilla extract in place of almond extract in the pastry and the frangipane. The only thing I might have changed was to blind-bake the tart shell for a few minutes before adding the filling as it was just slightly underdone, but this is only a minor point. I enjoyed this as I like to think it was intended – with a hot cup of tea on a drizzly wintery afternoon.
• 6-7 ripe pears (I used Beurre Bosc)
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• Juice of ½ lemon
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
• 225g plain flour
• 30g sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 110g unsalted butter, cold
• 2 egg yolks
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1-2 tablespoons cold water
• 125g unsalted butter, softened
• 125g icing sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 125g ground almonds
• 30g all purpose flour
1. To make the pear butter, peel and core pears and cut into medium size chunks. Combine with sugar in a bowl and allow to macerate for 1-2 hours.
2. Pour the pears and the liquid into a large pot. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla seeds. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are soft and starting to fall apart.
3. Remove from the heat and, with a hand blender or a normal blender, blend until smooth. Return to the pot and allow the mixture to simmer gently, stirring frequently until the butter reduces to a thick sauce, about 1 hour. Allow to cool.
4. In the meantime, make your shortcrust pastry. Sift flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
5. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and the vanilla extract and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water a tablespoon at a time, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. When 30 minutes is up, roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 5mm thick. Transfer to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
8. To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don’t worry if the mixture appears to look curdled. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix for another 30 seconds. Spoon in the ground almonds and flour and mix well.
9. To assemble the tart, spoon the cooled pear butter in an even layer onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream.