Bakewell Tartelettes

16 Jan 2012

In Ireland, school kids have a longer break during the holiday season. The little farmer was home from school from the 19th of December until the 9th of January. In the States, I believe most children head back to school sometime during the first week of January. This lengthy vacation seems to be justified by having a far shorter summer break, again, opposite of the American school system. {repeat mantra: tis different, not better or worse, tis different, not better or worse….}

The weather was too poor for assisting daddy on the farm, so let’s just say we had a lot of time on our hands here in the house. And too much time on our hands in the house = baking up a storm together (it also means dressing up our Airdale, Teddy, each morning; planning month-long trips to outer space, and building no less than fifty forts and obstacle courses…but, I digress).

Another new baking discovery for me here in Ireland is the beautiful Bakewell tart. Originating in Bakewell, England (thank you for enlightening me, Angharad), it is a firm fixture in bakeries, shops and cafes around this fair country as well.  The Bakewell tart (which would be called a ‘pudding’ if you were in Bakewell itself) is essentially a jam tart filled with a little almond-y (frangipane) cake on top. The story goes back to the 1860′s when a kitchen maid accidentally poured the almond mixture into a jam tart, a winning mistake if I do say so myself!  It’s modest: not too sweet nor gooey, and goes perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon.

The first time I enjoyed a slice of Bakewell tart was in the sweet little cafe at Brown Thomas department store. On a Sunday afternoon city-fix with the baby farmer in tow, I collapsed in for a cappuccino. Upon spying a pear almond version of the tart in the pastry case, my nutty sweet tooth could not resist. The waitress brought a slice out topped off with a dollop of whipped vanilla cream and a persimmon on the side. The rest is history.


We decided to make a chocolate version since there are more than a few chocoholics at the farm and I thought it would be a nice treat. We baked a dozen tartelettes, had a little tea party and they were gone in a flash. Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Bakewell Tart

Serves 4-6

For Pastry

75g/5 tbsp unsalted butter

140g/1 cup plain flour

25g/2.5 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp water

For the Filling

3 tbsp dark, chocolate grated

150g/2/3 cup butter

150g/2/3 cup caster sugar

75g/2/3 cup self-raising flour

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla

150g/3/4 cup ground almonds

grated zest of one lemon

3 tbsp lemon juice

6 heaped tablespoons of raspberry jam

icing sugar

Preheat oven to 220c/425F/gas mark 7

Work the pastry ingredients together to form a dough, and chill inthe fridge for 30 minutes Roll out pastry and use to line a loose-bottomed (springform) flan tin that is 25cm in diameter and 5cm deep (or 10 mini tart tins). Chill again and bake blind for 10 minutes.

For the filling, place the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water then remove from the heat when melted. Cream the butter and sugar together. Fold in the flour, adding the eggs and vanilla extract, melted chocolate, ground almonds and lemon zest. Add lemon juice until the mixture is of a dropping consistency.

Spread the jam over the bottom of the pastry case, then spoon in the chocolate mixture. Bake for 15 minutes at 220c/425f/gas mark 7, then reduce the heat to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the filling is cooked.

Sprinkle with icing sugar if you please.

Serve warm or cold with a big dollop of cream…and a persimmon on the side if you wish =)


I am very excited to announce that I have been asked to share recipes on Irish Abroad, a lovely online community for Irish expats, descendants and persons wishing to travel to Ireland…should be loads of fun!  I chose a classic Victoria Sponge for my first recipe, have a peek here.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos & Styling by Imen and Geoffrey McDonnell 2012

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Teddy McBeddy

09 Nov 2009

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I was reminded of a funny story when we were out with D & R for dinner here on Saturday night. We started chatting about our beloved dogs–for which there are many round here (We have 2 Great Pyrenees and 1 Airedale; D & R have 2 Harlequin Great Danes; and the farm has 2 Norwegian Elkhounds, 1 Samoyed and 1 lovely old Bernese Mountain Dog) perhaps too many, but the McDonnell’s are huge dog lovers and we have plenty of space so they are very happy pups. Our conversation immediately began to focus on the weekly antics of Ted, our quirky Airedale. There just always seems to be a Ted story. He’s such a comical creature with remarkably strong scavenging instincts and a heart of gold.

You see, Ted is “my dog”. When I first moved over I was completely overwhelmed by loneliness and boredom…having previously been so busy and social virtually every moment of every day, my life suddenly felt like it was at a standstill. I needed some company because Richard left before I woke up in the morning and didn’t arrive home until nearly 8pm each evening. I had always longed for an Airedale Terrier (to name Teddy) and on one teary-eyed Saturday, Richard said he’d found a breeder in Cork and that we would arrange to go pick out a puppy. I was delighted beyond belief.

When we were introduced to the busy litter of pups, Ted stood out to us—sure, he was smaller than the rest, his tail was nearly nonexistent and demeanor a bit timid, but he had the sweetest twinkle in his eye and he just seemed so special. We worried that he wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice and decided immediately that he would be ours. Over the next few months, I played with him, housetrained him, groomed him, cuddled with him, napped with him, danced with him, cried with him (ok, so only I was crying but still). We became the very best of friends. At one point during my pregnancy he became obsessed with resting his scruffy chin on my belly all the time. It was part of his nature, he knew something special was inside. He was completely adorable.

When it came time for me to go the the maternity hospital to have our real baby, I was simply not prepared to leave Ted. I was positively gutted over having to leave him behind while I went to the hospital. He was my buddy, confident and protector. I needed him! I felt so strongly about this that I insisted on having Richard bring Teddy to the hospital every day. Since I was pre-term they basically had me in the hospital (a place out of the 50’s..whole other story..but the staff were lovely) on pseudo bedrest for 6 days before I was induced. Richard would bring Ted and I would sneak out to the jeep (our Freelander. All SUV’s or pick-up trucks are called “jeeps” here) and I would cuddle with him for 10 minutes each day. The nurses/doctor hadn’t a clue. They would have not allowed it whatsoever!

I had totally forgotten that experience until Saturday night and I was so happy when Richard began talking about it. I love it when you are reminded of things that you forgot to remember. ..especially when they are wonderful loving moments frozen in time.

Slainte,

Imen

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