Almond, cherry & Bourbon tart, recipe (September 01, 2011)
Baking: the new black?
Almond, cherry & Bourbon tart
Programmes dedicated to baking have proliferated recently. Hard to know though, if the TV shows - which include: Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy for BBC (with accompanying glamorous book); Eric Lanlard's Baking Mad on Channel 4; and the return of last year's popular The Great British Bake Off on BBC 2 during August 2011 - are setting or reflecting the trend. Rather than being considered a homely and functional activity, baking has now become a glamorous, even decadent affair ... Eric Lanlard's programme emphasised, in a slick and sophisticated way, the connection, for him, between baking and creating deserts, and social events and PR. Baking is now being used as a vehicle to showcase a variety of skills, rather than just basic baking techniques. So much emphasis is placed on the decoration and serving of items (cupcake served on a dry-ice serving dish, or deserts decorated with real gold sheets anyone?), that the whole activity has become something of an art form.
Commonly, people are put off baking because of previous (bad) experiences. Baking is an exact science, which does not lend itself well to experimentation or baking 'free spirits' (such as myself). Ingredients have to be exact and therefore, baking appeals most to those cooks who enjoy sticking rigidly to recipes (and I am not one of those).
However, baking does not have to be difficult (or time consuming). If the thought of making your own pastry fills you with trepidation, then I am going to share some of my secrets; well, one of my recipes. And, as I observed one of my baking heroes using pre-made pastry recently, I do not feel I am cheating (well, not too much). Thank you Eric Lanlard!
One of my partner's favourite deserts, which I make regularly, in slightly different forms, is my fresh cherry and almond tart. The third and very important ingredient is alcohol. I often use Bourbon, but sherry, whiskey or amaretto also work well. The key is to use deliciously fresh and juicy cherries. You would be amazed the difference flavoursome cherries make to the desert.
Wash the cherries, de-stone and try and keep them reasonably whole. Set to one side.
Take a fluted edge flan case (which has been generously greased with butter or margarine) and drape over a sheet of ready made shortcrust pastry (a large selection of which are available at all major supermarkets). Press the pastry down into the flan case and trim off the excess pastry from the top of the flan case. Make sure the cut pastry is flush with the top of the flan case, as when blind baking it can slip down slightly into the flan case.
Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans (I use uncooked lentils) and place in the oven on Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes (middle of the oven). After 15 minutes remove from oven and remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans.
In a bowl take 70 grams of softened (unsalted) butter and mix thoroughly with 40 grams of caster sugar and 1 egg (medium or large). After this mixture is soft and fluffy (and has lightened in colour), add 125 grams of ground almonds. Continue to blend the mixture so the ground almonds are well distributed throughout the mixture.
Add your alcohol of choice, a good dash of whatever you fancy (approximately 2 table spoons), and mix in well.
Before adding the almond mix to the tart, spoon 3 teaspoons of black cherry conserve onto the tart base (tip: do this while the base is still warm, as the conserve spreads more easily when warmed), then add the almond mixture on top. After all the mixture has been evenly spread across the flan base, place in the whole (stoned and washed) cherries. Bake in the oven (middle shelf) at gas mark 4 for 20-30 minutes, removing when golden brown on the top.
Leave the tart to stand for 15 minutes.
Best served still slightly warm with single cream. Enjoy.
Claire Meredith, 1 September 2011
Also from the head chef at Tŵr Cymru Culture Towers:
Smoked mackerel and horseradish pâté with hot brown seeded-rolls; September 2011
Chic party food ideas 2; June 2011
The cupcake revolution; February 2011
Chic party food ideas; February 2011
Stylish party canapes; September 2009
© 2011 Caregos Cyf. | Hawlfraint - All rights reserved
Click here to return to the Featured Articles page