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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An Irish Apple Tart

20 Jan 2011

The old saying goes, “there is nothing more American than apple pie”, but I am here to tell you that it was actually a delicious slice of Irish apple tart that won me over in the infamous apple pie department.

I was never a big fan of apple pie…much preferred creamier or berrier versions, so when my mother-in-law, Peggy, offered me a slice on that fateful autumn afternoon, I hesitated, then thought to myself  hmmm, I wouldn’t want to seem contrary, would I? And so it goes, that was the first day of my 6+ year love affair with the Irish apple tart.

Now, this isn’t just any ordinary tart. It uses the age-old tradition of baking using an ordinary flat plate as opposed to the deep pie dish that we are accustomed to in the USA. If you had told me before I moved here that it was possible to bake a pie on a plate, I would have had a good chuckle. But here in Ireland, it’s pretty common practice….I’ve had it with a cup of tea in more than a few locations.

Our son would say “Gran makes it best” {but you should know that she also shares the yummy pastry trimmings with him.} Up for a challenge, I decided to give it a try myself with a few small tweaks to see how it would turn out. I bent her ear for the recipe and borrowed her ovenable plate and was off!

Since it is winter and we’ve no fresh apples from the orchard at the moment, I used the ones that were peeled and frozen in the fall. Each autumn the apples are picked and either sliced and frozen or stewed and frozen for the year, which is a brilliant, time-saving idea.  For the apple filling, I added a tiny bit of cinnamon and freshly grated ginger to the sugar just for a little added zing.

First, I put the thawed apples in a mixing bowl

and stirred in the sugar, a squeeze of a lemon, cinnamon

and a bit of grated fresh ginger

Then, I made the pastry dough (using this butter) and rolled it out to ¼-1/2 inch thickness

Turned it onto the plate

I carefully spooned the apple mixture into the pie plate pastry

And then placed the top of the pastry case over the apples, added a sweet little apple motif on top,

sealed the edge and brushed with an egg wash

And voila! A divine Irish apple tart, all pretty on a plate.

Here’s the recipe….

Enjoy!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos by Imen McDonnell. Recipe by Peggy and Imen McDonnell

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The Queen of Puddings

18 Aug 2010

I know, right? And yes, it tastes as divine as it looks…especially right out of the oven. Mmmmm.

Last week I was graciously given an old Irish cookery and home economics book that was used here in Ireland during the 1940’s and 50’s.  It is called “All in the Cooking, the Colaiste Mhuire book of Household Cookery”. Steeped in tradition and an absolute true gem to add to my cookbook collection, I had been pouring over it’s pages for days looking for the perfect first recipe to feature on my blog.  There are so many fascinating and historical recipes to choose from; from sweet puddings to savory sauces, a muriad of potato preparations to special “invalid cookery” dishes and the list goes on. But when I came upon the gorgeous and aptly titled, “Queen of Puddings” recipe, in all it’s glory….marked up and checked off as if it had been made a dozen times, I instantly {and giddily} decided that this would be the one.

Using meringue in Irish desserts was very common years ago as eggs were easier to come by than other more elaborate ingredients at the time. The same could be said for using jam and other conserves for sweet treats as well. Whatever the reason, this bread-ish pudding is utterly delicious.

I did a little research to see how many of my Irish friends had ever tried this and recieved a smattering of responses, a few who never had and many whom it brought back the fondest childhood memories. One of which, Tom Doorley, former Irish Times food writer and current Irish Daily Mail food columnist, commented via Twitter that this was a favourite of his when he was growing up, his mother had mostly used orange zest, but he prefers the lemon as prescribed in the forthcoming recipe.

Sweet, but also very light in flavour and texture…the perfect dessert to end a lovely Sunday family lunch or to accompany as part of a girly afternoon tea party or picnic.

I have provided the original recipe and also an updated version with oven temps and ml measurements.

Enjoy.

Odlums Recipe:

Ingredients

600ml/1pt Milk

25g/1oz Butter

50g/2oz Sugar

Rind of 1 Lemon

2 Large Eggs (separated)

125g/4oz Breadcrumbs

Topping

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam

Meringue

The Egg Whites

Pinch of Salt

125g/4oz Caster Sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 3. Grease a casserole or Pyrex dish.

Put the milk, butter, sugar, and lemon rind into a saucepan and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.

Beat the egg yolks and pour the heated milk onto them. Put the breadcrumbs into the prepared dish and pour over the liquid.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until mixture is ‘set’ and golden in colour. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until dry looking in appearance. Add the caster sugar and beat until shiney.

Spread the jam over the base then pile on the meringue, return to the oven until ‘set’ and golden brown.

Serve while hot.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photo by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Master Geoffrey McDonnell

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