Ok we’re really excited to introduce our newest blog series: a monthly baking challenge based off of Great British Bake Off! Basically the three of us have all watched all the GBBO episodes (some of them more than once … or twice …) and we’re always saying to ourselves and to each other how much we want to try this or bake that. So then we figured, why not channel that into a blog series? A challenge! On the first Sunday of every month, we’ll introduce the recipe, picked from the show. One of us will find a recipe, try it, write it up, and review it. (Ideally the other two of us will try it as well - either as written or with adaptations/variations - and write up a little add-on at the end of the post.) And then we invite you, readers, to try it as well and comment on your success! We want to have fun with this, so if you do try it, please post it to Instagram and tag us or use our hashtag #beaneaththecrustGBBOchallenge or post to our fb and tag us there. It will be so fun to see all your bakes! And we promise not to go all Paul Hollywood on any attempt. :)
First up: Bakewell tart. I feel like this tart comes up in almost every episode in some form or other! It seems quintessentially British and classic GBBO. And to keep it classic, I’m using a Paul Hollywood recipe. All his measurements were metric, of course, so I did my best to convert them for you. I do recommend using a scale in general, though - it’s much more accurate!
(I’m pretty excited that this also counts towards my Year of the Pie. I’m trying to focus on getting experience with all kinds of crust/filling variations and tarts make up a large part of those. I’m just ticking all kinds of boxes!)
200g (a generous 1 1/3 cup) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp powdered sugar
100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 medium egg
1 tsp lemon juice
2-3 tsp ice water
100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
50g (rounded 1/3 cup) all purpose flour
75g (about 3/4 cup) almond meal or finely ground almonds
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
100g (generous 1/4 cup) raspberry jam
1 scant cup raspberries
small handful of sliced almonds
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
[For the crust}: In a food processor, blitz together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and the butter cut down to about the size of oats. Add the egg and lemon juice and pulse just a few times until the dough begins to clump together - when you pinch it it should stick together and not crumble. If necessary add a teaspoon or so of water. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently and briefly into a smooth ball then flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes at least.
Roll out the dough into a circle big enough to fit a 9 inch tart pan. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and press into all the grooves and corners, then trim the excess dough. Freeze for at least 10 minutes, or until very firm.
Preheat oven to 400. Line the pastry dough with parchment or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (I used rice). Bake 12-15 minutes, then carefully remove the weights and aluminum foil and bake an extra 5 minutes until pale golden. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350.
[Make the filling]: Beat together the butter, sugar, and pinch of salt until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the flour, almond meal, and almond extract. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat briefly to mix well.
Spread the jam evenly over the bottom of the crust, then scatter the raspberries over. Dollop with the frangipane filling and spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes, then scatter the almonds over the top and bake for another 15 - 20 minutes until golden and puffed. Let cool completely and dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
My take on this recipe:
I added salt to the crust and frangipane because I believe in things being salted. Not salty, but salted. It emphasizes flavor.
I found the crust easy enough to work with and deliciously tender. That’s a big plus! However, I think my pan is a quiche pan (I’m pretty embarrassed that I didn’t distinguish between the two) and the sides of the crust are perhaps a bit too high. I believe a standard tart pan has 1-inch sides and mine has 2-inch sides but I didn’t really think about it until I saw how high (or not high) the filling was when I had already spread it into the crust. Mostly it just looked goofy, and I didn’t help the matter by breaking off all the excess, too-tall crust.
The timing worked so that I spread the jam onto a hot crust so it spread easily. If your crust is cool, it might help to heat the jam a bit for easier spreading. Also, if you don’t like the seeds, you should heat and strain the jam.
I had a bit of a hard time spreading my frangipane over the raspberries without making what I thought would be a complete mess. So first I kind of broke up the raspberries a bit and then I dolloped the frangipane all over and carefully smoothed it over. I think my frangipane was a little on the stiff side because my butter and eggs were a bit on the cool side and I keep my almond meal in the freezer. If it were all room temp I’m sure it would have spread easier.
This is really as delicious as I hoped it would be. It’s a simple dessert with very balanced flavors and textures - short buttery crust against a cakey custard (or custardy cake?) filling and the sharp tang of the raspberries against the smooth sweetness of the frangipane. It’s not overly sweet or rich which makes it perfect as a weekday dessert or for afternoon coffee or tea… or, of course, for breakfast. It wasn’t too much work, it didn’t take too long. This is a winner! Next time I think I’ll try apricot as the fruit, and maybe add some orange zest and ground pistachios into the crust and/or frangipane.
Okay, so I made the Bakewell Tart following Maria’s recipe above, with a few modifications (because it was a snowy day and I wanted to bake but I wasn’t going to run out to the store for the missing ingredients). First, my thoughts on this bake: it’s delicious. I’ve never tried a Bakewell Tart before but it basically hits all the notes of my ideal dessert...delightfully almond in flavor, a soft cakelike not-too-sweet filling, with a bright tartness coming from the raspberry jam beneath, punched up a level by the zing of fresh raspberries, and all held together by a crisp, easy-to-work-with pastry crust. Now, one of my primary modifications was the use of frozen, rather than fresh raspberries. I was worried the raspberries would gush liquid and make the frangipane runny...but not a bit of it! They worked very well. Other modifications include granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar in the crust (in equal measure), the use of salted butter instead of unsalted (just reduce the salt called for by half), no lemon juice in the crust, and no sliced almonds on top. And still...it was simply and divinely delicious!
I followed the crust recipe above (just adding a little orange zest as Maria suggested), but froze it in our coldest freezer for a bit longer (30-60min) which meant I didn’t need any pie weights or tin foil! The dough was easy to work with, there was no sagging or shrinking, and the only thing I had to do was poke the bottom all over with a fork. Huge win, because I hate using pie weights.
For the filling, I looked at other recipes and tweaked the proportions a little, mostly to accommodate an egg white I had in the fridge (so 1 egg + 1 white instead of 2 whole eggs), adding some orange zest to the filling (again as Maria suggested), and upped the jam slightly (because I didn't have any fresh/frozen raspberries to throw in).
Then, since I made it on St. Valentine's Day, I used some marzipan to shape a decorative heart which I placed right on top before putting in the oven (and which sank a bit down, so maybe I'd add it after 10 min of baking next time...I know, there’s that direction with the sliced almonds, but I was lazy...).
Consensus? It is very easy to make both the crust and filling, looks so elegant, and tastes delicious. It is not very sweet at all, a winning flavor combo (I tried so hard not to do raspberry, but how can't you?!), and perhaps improves after resting so can be made at least a day ahead.