I am a baker. A gluten-free baker. But let me tell you, I really wish I were a Daring Baker. Have you heard of Daring Bakers? It is perhaps one of the most ingenious ideas for a community of adventurous foodies; a group of hundreds of bloggers coming together every month to prepare and chronicle the same exact recipe. But wait, this is not just any blogging community. It is a secretive one. For an entire month participating members are sworn to secrecy regarding their assigned recipe, only to reveal their baking results at the end of the month in one massive internet revelation. Sounds fun doesn’t it?
But like all great secretive communities, in order to be a member you must first agree to a list of specific terms and conditions. For Daring Bakers, the most pertinent of these are 1) you must participate in at least 8 of the 12 challenges in a calendar year and 2) you cannot miss more than 2 consecutive challenges. Not exactly a feasible commitment for an overwhelmed full-time college student. Not yet anyway. So until graduation comes and the insanity of schoolwork subsides, I have decided to live the life of a vicarious Daring Baker. So here it goes. A revisit to the June 2009 challenge: Bakewell Tart.
A Bakewell Tart is a British dessert consisting of a shortcrust pastry, jam layer, and almond frangipane filling. Can you say “yum”? The shortcrust is devilishly buttery-rich, akin to a tender almond-scented shortbread. Meanwhile, the frangipane filling is deliciously soft, slightly sponge-y, and almond-y sweet. What is particularly wonderful about this tart, besides its immense deliciousness, is how versatile it is. Almond is a wonderfully flexible flavor and excellent partner to a variety of different jams. I chose to make my tart my homemade vanilla rhubarb jam, but your options are endless. Try whichever jam tickles your fancy, whether it is cherry, strawberry, or even a more exotic fig or pear. No matter which one you choose, you are guaranteed a ticket to this buttery sweet almond heaven.
Part of the Daring Bakers challenge is to make the assigned recipe exactly as is, without any substitutions or changes. Exceptions are made, of course, for specific dietary needs. So in the spirit of Daring Bakers, that is how I prepared this recipe, minus a few necessary gluten-free substitutions and volumetric conversions. But all right, enough talk. It is time to dig in! Enjoy, my fellow bakers (daring and otherwise)!
1 2/3 cup GF Flour Mix*
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp almond extract
1-2 Tbsp cold water
9 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup almond meal
2 Tbsp GF Flour Mix*
1/2 cup jam
Prepare the crust:
Sift together flour mix, xanthan gum, sugar, and salt. Using a food processor or the tips of your fingers, quickly cut/rub butter into the flour mixture just until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract and quickly mix into the flour mixture. While mixing, slowly dribble in the water, adding only enough water to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough (the mixture should come together to form a ball). Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface (if it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatized for about 15 minutes before you roll it out). Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 1/4-inch thickness.
When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to a greased and floured 10-inch tart pan; press in and trim the excess dough (the dough will probably tear some, but just patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits). Place the tarts on a baking sheet line with parchment paper and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Prepare the frangipane:
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is light and very fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (the batter will appear to curdle, but don’t worry, this is supposed to happen).
After all three eggs are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds, scraping down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour mix. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look and retain its pallid yellow color.
Assemble the tart:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
Spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the frozen 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, when the top is poofy and brownish, remove from oven and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Return the tart to the oven and finish baking for the final five minutes.
Let tart cool completely on a wire rack, then dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
*GF Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch