MAN, am I glad to be back on the wagon with the Daring Bakers group. I have really missed them over the last several months. Although I've never met any of them in person, I must say that it was a rather sad existence without them! 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.
I was intrigued by this challenge because I had never heard of a Bakewell Tart/Pudding before! I made my tart... er... pudding in stages. Not my fave way to do things, but it definitely works with a "working mom/chick" schedule.
FIRST, I made Grapefruit Curd for the jam/curd layer, as I thought that would be a nice, summery flavor. The original recipe is here. I substituted the zest and juice of 1 ruby red grapefruit for the 4 lemons, and added about a teaspoon of lemon flavoring (it seemed like it was going to be a little sweeter than I wanted). I also couldn't find my little strainer this time, and was initially going to give this curd the "rustic" label and keep rolling. But it kept bugging me, and I ended up using my screen that fits over a frying pan to strain it instead because I really wanted a smooth textured curd. I was also going to put a drop of red food coloring in to give it a pinkish tint reminiscent of grapefruit pulp, but couldn't find it, either. Eh, whatever.
Tasting it after it chilled, I wasn't really impressed with the flavor, so I added a few teaspoons of lime juice, and it became Grapefruit-Lime Curd. Then, I wished that I had just made lime curd, as I adore limes - but I still had the rest of the tart/pudding to make.
NEXT (a few days later), I made the crust. I wasn't going to mess with that frying pan screen again, and didn't know where the hell that strainer was, so I bought a sifter at "Mega Lo Mart" on the way home from work so that I could sift my dry ingredients. =:D Excellent!
I used my Pampered Chef cheese grater to grate the frozen butter, which I'd definitely do again. If you do something like this, though, a suggestion: After a few turns of the handle, gently pull the butter out of the grater with a small spoon. I was happily grinding away at one point and realized that the butter had piled up inside of the grater, so that I had several masses of it mashed together by the time I got it out. It didn't make a huge difference when I mixed the butter with the flour mixture - I just pinched it gently apart with my fingers as I was mixing, and it did fine.
I probably used twice as much almond extract as the recipe called for, because I dreamily turned the little bottle over to sprinkle it into the bowl and it just came gushing out. For some reason, almond extract just *smells* to me like it would slowly and dramatically ooze out of the bottle and into the bowl. I don't know....my crazy imagination.
THEN came the frangipane. I was excited about this, because it seemed like this was going to be a really yummy part of the dessert! I was interested in how my almond meal was going to turn out, because I bought blanched almond slices that I was going to have to grind up. I did this once before and I just couldn't get as smooth of a texture as I'd hoped. Initially, I was going to make the frangipane while the crust was chilling, but Hubby fell asleep on the living room couch.
You're probably like, "So freakin' what?? You cook in your LR?!" Yes, the big-screen TV folds down into a work station/range....but seriously. Our living room and kitchen are essentially one big open room separated by a counter/bar, so I didn't want to have that little chopper running like crazy while he snoozed. And I can't pick him up and carry him to bed like I can do with Sweet Pea.
So that waited until another day, when I finished it all on a Saturday night (whoohoo, that's me, the party animal!) -- speaking of animals, for some reason that night we were overtaken by flies! =:O I'm still trying to figure that out. But suffice it to say that they drove me NUTZOID while I was trying to mix and bake. ANYway . . . I rolled out the crust and cut it into circles (with a plastic drinking cup from my credit union - how high-tech!) that fit perfectly into my muffin pan for mini tarts/puddings. They really turned out cute!
Close-up of the layers
The next day was Father's Day, and my parents drove over for the day to pick up a bed that we moved out of our guest room to make room for New Baby. I thought that would be a GREAT time to share the latest kitchen creation. They adored it - yay! The grapefruit-lime curd was wonderful with the frangipane, and the crust didn't have any overwhelming taste of almond that I feared. As a matter of fact, I warned my mother about the potential almond tsunami because she isn't big on the flavor, but she didn't notice it at all. Personally, I think that it just gave the whole tart a nice warm undertone that blended well with the curd.
I thought this was a really fun challenge, and the crust and curd were great make-aheads. There are so many ways you could take this flavor-wise, as evidenced by the numerous posts by my fellow Daring Bakers. Be sure and check them out here!