Monday, June 29, 2009

BBA Challenge & Falling Behind

Top Row (L to R): Challah, Artos Greek Celebration, Anadama
Bottom Row (L to R): Jalapeno-Cheese, ABin5, Pane Sicilano

Well, I've fallen a bit behind on my Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. I was on top if it for week 1 and loved week 2 but that is as far as I have done on my challenge! I've been pretty busy, been out of town and just haven't had the motivation to bake bread, which is very surprising because I love to eat the bread I bake! Another reason I haven't made the ones in the past weeks are that I have made them in the past, numerous times, and absolutely loved them! Here are the breads that I have missed posting about:

Week 3 Bagels: I'm going to try these one day! I've never made this bagel recipe though I have made others and wasn't too thrilled with the results.

Week 4 Brioche: If you have never eaten or baked brioche then you must. It is the most delicious, rich, amazing bread. But it's definitely not low-fat!

Week 5 Casatiello: A bread that you can enjoy as a sandwich unto itself. The bread has cheese and salami baked into a slightly sweet dough and is amazing!

That brings us to the Week 6 challenge of Challah bread. This is another one of my favorites. Partly because it is just so beautiful but also because of the wonderful rich flavor. I've made this for clients and have had great feedback. This makes a wonderful presentation and is almost too pretty to eat!

This week's challenge is Ciabatta bread. This is one of the first breads that I tried in this book. My first attempts were pretty dense but as I practiced I was able to get the wonderful and large holes that are traditional for this "slipper" bread. Even though I've made this before I think I'll make a batch for sandwiches!

I'm going to try to get back on track and bake along with everyone else each week so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bakewell Tart with Lemon Curd (DB)

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.

Like many regional dishes there’s no one way to make a Bakewell Tart, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the pudding where a layer of jam is covered by an almond pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the tart where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almond sponge cake-like filling. The version we were dared to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.

I was excited about this month's challenge. I love shortcrust pastry, tarts, pudding and almonds. And this combined all of those things. The requirements for the challenge were for the pastry dough and frangipane. We were able to decide if we wanted to make homemade jam or use store bought. I decided that lemon curd would be the perfect flavor pairing for this tart and it is delicious!

This recipe is very simple and absolutely delicious. This would be great with chocolate, maybe nutella and possibly using hazelnut flour. Individual portions in small tart pans would be great as well. There are quite a few possibilites for this wonderful tart.

Bakewell Tart

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) lemon curd, or jam
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or ice cream.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla extract and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle but It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.


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