Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bakewell Pudding: DB June Challenge

This month's challenge was very personal for me. After a sentimental Daring Cooks Challenge, this DB challenge was also something dear to my heart. My memories of Bakewell Tarts starts from as early as I can remember. These are a MUST at our Christmas table.

Bakewell tarts are what Santa ate every year he came to visit our house. Memories of crumbs strewn about the kitchen table in the morning when I would come down to see the sleigh tracks and reindeer prints.

Last year was the first year I tried my hand at making these. My sister and I made them together being the pastry whiz that she is. They turned out rather successful if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately my Dad is in England at the moment visiting my sister, so the actual taste tester is not available for comment.

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.

Thanks ladies for letting us bring some of Christmas cheer a little early this year.

Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding:

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)

Resting time: 15 minutesBaking time: 30 minutes

Equipment needed:

23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges)
rolling pin
1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz))
Jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
1 quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
1 handful blanched, flaked almonds

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. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

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 custard sauce if you wish.
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 egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
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 almond extract (if using) 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 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. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. 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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Daring Cook's Challenge: My Childhood Revisited

When I read what the June Challenge was this month, memories flooded my head of when I was a child staying with my grandparents. My grandfather or "goung" made the best, and I mean the best dumplings.
Every size and flavour. I remember he used to make me these special ones. They were about 8 inches long. Inside he stuffed ground pork, cellophane noodles, egg and green onions. He would then pan fry them and serve them to us for lunch or a snack.
I spent the better part of an afternoon hand crafting these and reminising with myself about the days when I would sit and watch my goung do the same.
He has since passed, but it's funny how one single little thing like a dumpling can make think about how much you appreciated those little things that the people you love do for you.

I want to thank Jen for this recipe. I am a huge fan of her blog "Use Real Butter". I had such a great time making this recipe and living my childhood for one afternoon 20 years later.

Shi Shi Jen. Thanks.

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

Pork filling:
1 lb (450g) ground pork
3 stalks green onions, minced
1/2 c. chopped chives (Chinese or regular)
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

Dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches - or just halve the filling recipe)

2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for work surface

Dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.