11th November 2012
I can’t believe I haven’t actually baked anything for a whole week. With complaints coming from all members of the family about the lack of cakes this week, I thought I’d better bake something – although I hoped they wouldn’t be disappointed as I fancied baking something with ‘pastry’ today as I still have lots of recipes left from this section of the book.
The first thing to make was the sweet pastry – or the pâte sucrée as it is known in this recipe. The plain flour was measured into the bowl and the butter rubbed in until it resembled fine breadcrumbs. The sugar was stirred through and then two large egg yolks were added. These were mixed in until the mixture came together to form a dough. I had been lucky this week in that one of my chickens had decided to lay a few eggs, so I used her eggs for this and I was very surprised at how yellow my pastry was. I was becoming used to the paleness of shop bought eggs or even the free range ones I purchased from the Farmers Market the other day, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the lovely deep yellow/orange yolks again!
The dough was kneaded very lightly until it became smooth. It was then wrapped into clingfilm and popped into the fridge for 30 minutes. During the 30 minute wait I seemed to spend most of the time washing and drying up the huge mountain of dishes that seem to have accumulated since this morning. One thing I am going to have once the extension has been built and I have a new kitchen is a dishwasher. I seem to spend hours washing and drying dishes. I should probably do what my brother and his family used to do – they all had to wash and dry their own plates, glasses and cutlery and they would take it in turns to wash the pans etc. I don’t think he does it now as he only has his youngest son at home now with their eldest now working and the other two at university, but I’ll have to ask him, it’s definitely something that needs considering in this house, hehe!
The oven was put on to preheat and a 12 hole patty tin was taken out of the cupboard. I usually use this for making small Yorkshire puddings in as I find it too small for fairy/cupcakes, but glad I had found another use for it.
Once the 30 minutes was up the pastry was removed from the fridge and rolled out. A 7.5cm pastry cutter was used to cut out 12 rounds. Mary does say to only roll the trimmings out once, but I had enough left over to produce just one more, so instead of rolling it out, I rolled it into a little ball and then flattened it to make the twelfth round. I must admit the first five I rolled out were a lot quicker than the next rolling – whoops, I hope they cook through OK – I don’t want any soggy bottoms!
Each round was gently put into the patty tin and the bottoms lightly pricked with a fork. I did think that I would have to blind bake these, but reading through the recipe it appeared that this was not the case, so back into the fridge they went to cool whilst I made the frangipane filling.
Into a bowl went the butter and sugar which was beaten together until light and fluffy. For some reason I had decided to use a huge bowl – I’m not sure how much mixture I thought I was going to make – it only had to fill 12 tiny pastry tarts, so it was quite difficult to cream 50g sugar and 50g butter. Most of it went to the side of the bowl and stayed there. In the end I resorted to doing the mixing by hand as I didn’t really want to make another bowl dirty -I’d had enough of washing up! Once the mixture was light and fluffy one egg was added to it – gradually – and beaten in. The next addition was 65g of ground almonds (hurrah that was nearly a packet used up – if you’ve seen my Twitter page you will know that when I sorted my cupboards out the other day I found quite a few packets of ground almonds, so I think this was probably one reason why I chose this recipe today). These were mixed in, together with a few drops of almond extract. My mixture looked very lost in the huge bowl, but it was enough to fill each of the tartlets with. The filling was spread evenly out in the pastry tarts and the tops were sprinkled with ground almonds. Into the oven they went for 15 minutes.
Once out of the oven they were very carefully taken out of the tin and put onto a wire rack to cool. It was at this stage that you were supposed to melt some apricot jam and brush this over the top. Unfortunately, although I thought there was a jar of jam in the fridge, there wasn’t, so I had to omit this bit out. You were also meant to decorate the outside of each case with a thin line of ground almonds, but I didn’t do this either as I assumed the ground almonds would have stuck to the jam!
The verdict on these little tarts – they were very nice indeed. My son, who doesn’t like almonds seemed to eat the majority of them – although he did take the flaked almonds off the top – I didn’t like to tell him that the main ingredient in the filling was almonds – it’s amazing what they’ll eat if they don’t know it’s in there! And there were no soggy bottoms – I checked every one of them!
Yet another one I think I’ll bake again. Please excuse the photo, it was dark outside by the time I remembered to take a picture of them and the speed at which they were being eaten, I knew I had to be quick!