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Introducing the Banoffee-Bakewell Tartlette! British-British fusion at its best!

Introducing the Banoffee-Bakewell Tartlette! British-British fusion at its best!

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.

Is it a tart? Is it a pudding? Is it a pie?

Who the heck knows! It really depends on what slice of the globe you happen to call home and what you like to call your yummy baked goods. But regardless of the name, it is truly and utterly delicious.

The Bakewell tartpuddingpie has its roots in merry old England, and combines a number of traditional dessert elements in an interesting and scrumptious way. First you lay down a buttery, shorbread-like tart crust, slather it with your jam or curd of choice, then top with a mysterious concoction known as Frangipane. This exotic-sounding addition is a somewhat squidgy mess of eggs, butter, sugar, and ground almonds which bakes into a delightful, almost sponge-cake-like flufiness atop your tartpuddingpie. The combination of these three elements is no less than genious. Those 19th century Brits knew what they were doing, I say!

According to this month’s lovely hosts, “like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling. The version we’re daring you to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.”

As for the tart/pudding debate, someone once said something like “The Bakewell pudding is a dessert. The Bakewell tart is that girl over there.” Use that knowledge as you may…

Again, this month’s challenge gave us daring bakers a little leeway in our baking madness: use the tart dough and the frangipane, but choose your own jam or curd for its innards. Making our own jams was heartily encouraged so, with last month’s sad failure still haunting me, I decided to start early in the month and work extra hard to make this challenge a success! And I’m happy to report, I did.

My first attempt began early in June, and true to the daring baker’s spirit, I made my own jam filling out of the fresh lovely produce hitting my local markets. I researched some jam recipes, and decided to just strike out on my own and see what happened. I figured I didn’t need anything worthy of canning (since I just don’t have the equipment for that), and if the texture was a bit runny or dense, it didn’t matter since it was just going to be the jam in my bakewell sammich. The result of my labors was a quite lovely Brown Sugar Stone-fruit Jam (the recipe is listed at the end of the post).

I chose to make my tart dough in the food processor because, well, I’m lazy! If this were something in which the flakiness of the dough was paramount to the dish, I might have taken the time and effort to do it all old-fashioned-like, but f*** that. And hey, this dough is merely a substrate for the jam and frangipane anyway! The frangipane was a breeze to whip up, believe it or not. Though the originators of the recipe warned could sometimes get an unappealing curdled-like texture, mine was nothing but smooth and creamy all the way. I think the trick is really making sure your butter is at room temperature, making sure to mix thoroughly between elements, and having a good quality hand or stand mixer at the ready. My KitchenAid hand-mixer is so freakin’ turbo-powered, I wish it had a *LOWER SETTING* – the 1st notch on the dial is hand-numbingly powerful, and I don’t think I’ve ever even dared to go beyond notch 3!

For my jam-based creation, I also decided to remain traditional with choice of cookware and size – a nice, standard 9-inch tart pan did the trick. I lined the bottom and sides with the pastry crust, oozed on a thick layer of jam (at this point it almost started to look like I was making a deep-dish pizza…), then smoothed the luscious frangipane over the top.

After a half an hour in the oven, it looked nice and brown on top, so I took it out and let it cool. The house smelled AMAZING – like marzipan and shortbread had been makin’ sweet, sweet love in my kitchen all day. I let it cool for quite some time, but upon cutting into it realized that I hadn’t quite baked it long enough: the frangipane in the center inches of the tart was still runny, and the dough beneath it suspiciously soft. That didn’t stop it from being DELICIOUS, however, and it firmed up a bit more after a night in the fridge. Undercooked or not, the boytoy and I inhaled the thing over the next couple of days – it makes quite a good breakfast, I assure you (as long as there are no bacon waffles nearby to compete with them)!

I call this one "The obligatory almond"

I call this one "The obscene almond"

As good as that first tart was, I was sure I could do better. I wanted to do something a little more bold, now that I’d tackled the basics! First off, I decided to convert the recipe into cupcake-sized tartlettes, hoping the smaller size would help my frangipane to cook through this time. As for the filling, here was where I wanted to try something truly unique. With my mind stuck on yummy-British-dessert mode, I suddenly remembered a divine concoction known as Banoffee Pie: bananas and toffee/caramel are combined in pie format and then slathered with cream. I’ve seen it done a dozen times on my cable channel of choice, the Food Network, and every time found my chin dropped somewhere near the floor with a puddle of drool beneath it. I always imagined this combination to be something truly inspired, but as of yet, have never gotten around to making the damn pie! And here is where the idea came to me: why not make a crazy British-fusion dessert, combining the bananas and caramel of Banoffee Pie with the delicious almond-ness of a Bakewell Tart? GENIOUS! And thus the Banoffee Bakewell Tart was born!

So here I am, once again on the day that the challenge is due, working down to the wire to finish my baking. Yes, I got a head this month, but still, I seem to be a creature of (last-minute) habit. Luckily, this month luck was with me: I found that the single quantity of tart dough was the PERFECT amount for exactly 12 cupcake-sized tartlettes! After the dough was rolled out, I cut circles out of it with a crumpet-ring, then smooshed them into the dozen crevices in my standard-sized cupcake pan.

Is that a crumpet ring or are you just happy to see me?

Is that a crumpet ring or are you just happy to see me?

After a quick chill in the freezer, I filled each little tart with about a tablespoon of canned Dulce de Leche, topped that with a slice of fresh banana, then covered with frangipane like usual.

A quartet of banana slices, mired in delicious caramel goo

A quartet of banana slices, mired in delicious caramel goo

Ready for a quick trip to the oven before being ravenously devoured.

Ready for a quick trip to the oven before being ravenously devoured.

They cooked for about 20-30 minutes, until brown and poofy on top. With a bit of whipped cream dolloped on top, these Banoffee-Bakewell tartlettes were a clear winner!

It's hard not to just stick your finger in that, isn't it?

Please try and refrain yourself: licking your computer screen is not recommended...

Here are the official recipes and directions for all the elements of this fantabulous dessert. I highly urge you to give this one a try – it really wasn’t hard at all, and if you used store-bought jam, it would be even easier!

Brown Sugar Stone-fruit Jam:

  • Approx. 3 pounds of stone-fruits (I used cherries, plums and peaches in roughly equal proportions, but feel free to play with this as you like), stones/pips removed, and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (I used vanilla sugar, but plain works too)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan tall enough so that you’ve got some room for bubbling without overflow. Cook on medium or medium-high, stirring frequently. Once the fruit has gotten very soft (after 10-20 minutes), start crushing the mixture with a potato masher, breaking up the fruit and syrup into a nice pulp. I let mine bubble, reduce and thicken for about an hour, but use your own judgement.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

There’s a lot of info out there on jam-making and how to know when it has set enough (often involving frozen dinner plates or other strange things), but since texture wasn’t all that important in this case, I just cooked it until it looked thick enough for my needs. Let it cool, uncovered, until it isn’t scorching bloody hot anymore, then move to the refridgerator until you need it.

Sweet shortcrust pastry:

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, plastic wrap

  • 225g (8 oz) all purpose flour
  • 30g (1 oz) sugar (or vanilla sugar, if you have it)
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
  • 110g (4 oz, or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond or vanilla extract (optional)
  • 15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

** If you want to make this in the food processor, combine all the dry elements and pulse to distribute evenly. Add chunks of butter, really cold or frozen is best. Pulse about 10 times or so until you have coarse crumbs and small chunks of butter. Add the egg yolks, pulse a couple of times, then start drizzling in water a bit at a time, pulsing in between drizzles. You don’t want to over-work the dough if you don’t have to! Open the lid and check in between each drizzle of water to check the texture. Don’t wait until the dough forms a ball in the mixer – it should look like fine yellowish crumbly crumbs that, when smooshed together with your fingers, hold together in a cohesive dough.

Frangipane:

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

  • 125g (4.5 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g (4.5 oz) icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
  • 125g (4.5 oz) ground almonds
  • 30g (1 oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Bakewell Tartpuddingpie Assembly:

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges) or muffin pan, rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
Bench flour
250ml (1 cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability (or 1-2 bananas and 1 can dulce de leche!)
One quantity frangipane
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the 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, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Beware! These tartlettes are guarded by Pearl the attack cat. Should you try and take one, she will promptly attack you with purring and snuggles!

Beware! These tartlettes are guarded by Pearl the attack cat. Should you try and take one, she will promptly attack you with purring and snuggles!

Left: It's PacMan!  Right: Is it smiling at me?

Left: It's PacMan! Right: Is it smiling at me?

As always, the requisite food-porn shot.

As always, I must leave you with the obligatory food-porn shot.

The epic struggle of Mr. Bacon vs. Monsieur Tofu, now available in action-figure form!

The epic struggle of Mr. Bacon vs. Monsieur Tofu, now available in action-figure form!

Somehow I’m not surprised, but when looking over my blog stats for the past day I noticed that my little ol’ Waffles-of-Love seem to have garnered more clicks than all my other posts to date!  Woot!  Trust me, dear readers, I feel the bacon love in the house. Those of you who know me know that I love bacon more than some people I’ve met.  For serious. It’s only one of the reasons I’ll never have the stomach to turn vegetarian. You know, I think it must be genetic: My parents, bless them, have contemplated going veggie (for their health), but admit they couldn’t resist the lure of bacon. “Can we be bacon vegetarians?” my mom asks. I believe in the power of bacon! Heck, a dear old friend of mine likes to refer to himself as a “bacon-loving Jew”, no lie.

However, I must admit, there are some awesome, rockin’ people in my life (especially you, JennyBakes!) who take their life at a decidedly more vegetarian pace than I. One such person asked me via facebook today if soy-bacon would possibly work in this recipe: “are there any circumstances under which veggie bacon could be considered an acceptable alternative? i am usually a happy-go-lucky vegetarian, but this recipe fills me with longing…”

Well, i thought long and hard about it, and decided that YES, though I wouldn’t personally use fake bacon (or “facon,” as I like to say), should that be what boats your float, then you should definitely go ahead and use it! You see, I realized that unlike other recipes where facon would be pretty noticible, the candying effect of the brown sugar and spices in this case could definitely do the trick of covering up that telltale this-is-not-bacon-you-fool! flavor.

My exact recommendation was as follows: “I would definitely suggest adding some oil or butter to the soy bacon first (I’m assuming it doesn’t have that natural fattiness of real bacon – lol!), to help with the “candying” effect. Also, i’d double the spice amounts in the brown sugar, to give it more flavor. Adding some salt to the sugar mix would also help. What you want is that sweetness combined with the salty-crispy-smokiness…”

She took my advice and hit her kitchen with a vengeance, striking a hit for vegetarians everywhere. “For the record,” she replied a short time later, “soy bacon candies oh-so-well. YUM!”

So there you have it, folks. Should you be of the vegetarian or vegan persuasion, or simply looking to cut back on your bacon consumption (gasp!), you too can experience Waffles-of-Love. ❤ ❤ XXOO!

A pool of maple syrup, into which I will plunge.

A pool of maple syrup, into which I will plunge.

Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles.

Do I have your attention yet? Yes, that’s right, I said waffles, and bacon, and brown sugar, and ohmygod! So back when I lived in North Carolina, there was a popular breakfast joint in my town named Elmo’s Diner. On their large menu of breakfasty-goodness there was one item that never failed to take my breath away – the bacon-waffle. Just finishing one of these monstrosoties of deliciousness was a difficult task, once properly slathered with butter and real maple syrup. Yes, my friends, it is a heart attack on a platter, an untimely (but scrumptious!) early death just waiting to happen… and I loved him. It was a love that dare not speak its name – the kind of guilty pleasure indulgence food straight from the fatty-food-lovin’-Paula-Deen-butter-guzzlin’-southern-nation. You try and hate on it, but in the end you just can’t… because you’re too full.

Since moving away, there have been many things I’ve missed, and that bacon waffle is one of them. Since recently purchasing a Belgian-waffle iron, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of recreating this masterpiece. My first attempt was okay – decent tasting waffle (if a bit heavy), and delicious bacon crumbles. It definitely satisfied, but it wasn’t the kind of gluttonous, beautiful meal I remembered. So what do I usually do in the face of such a challenge? Go to the interwebz, of course! A bunch of googling later, I had some contender recipes, but none that really called to me with the promise of that long lost waffle of love. Until I found this one. The title, the pictures… I was sold. “I must make these,” I said, “and they will be awesome.”

Next step? Tracking down the best possible bacon available for this noble enterprise. I recently discovered a little butcher shop down the street from my work that puts out some of the best meat products I’ve seen in years. On splurge-nights, the boytoy and I get ourselves a big honkin’ ribeye (I’m talkin’ the couple-inches-thick kind) and proceed to have a steak better than a lot of restaurants I’ve been to recently. Their smoked products are out of this freakin’ world, and I was overwhelmed with joy upon finding they offered bacon in both hickory and applewood smoked varieties. I scurried home with a pound of some of the most beautiful, thick-cut bacon I’ve ever had the pleasure to own or eat (hickory, in this instance).

Homer Simpson voice: "Mmmmmmm... bacon!"

Homer Simpson voice: "Mmmmmmm... bacon!"

What intrigued/thrilled me the most about this particular bacon-waffle recipe was the semi-candying of the bacon itself under a veil of brown sugar. It seemed, to the imaginary tastebuds in my head, to be a great way to incorporate that sweet-salty-meaty-hot combo I love so dearly. So, like any recipe I stumble across, I made a few adjustments and plunged right in:

Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles

(adapted from Joy the Baker)

Step One: cut a hole in the box… um, er, I mean prepare the candied bacon!

The original recipe says to use 10 slices of bacon – which I did – but mine were so thick and luscious, I had to make a few adjustments in the baking time. My 10 slices were just shy of a whole pound, but ymmv depending on the brand and thickness of your bacon.

Lay your bacon out in a baking pan of some sort, with a tall enough edge to contain all the fat that will render off without splashing when moved. In order to fit in my pan I had to overlap the pieces a bit – this is okay. Sprinkle the top of your bacon layer generously with the following mixture:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
  • fresh ground pepper (to taste)
I only bake with the prettiest possible spices.

I only bake with the prettiest possible spices.

It's a BACONSCAPE!

It's a BACONSCAPE!

My bacon sparkes in the sunlight.

My bacon sparkes in the sunlight.

Bake this lovely concoction in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, again based on the thickness of your bacon. Mine took 30 minutes, while the original recipe called for only 20. I suggest checking it at 20 minutes and adding more time as necessary. You want the bacon to look crisp but not burned. Immediately transfer out of the greasy sugar sludge with tongs to a cutting board to cool (don’t use paper towels for draining – the bacon will stick!). Once cool, chop it into happy bits of a size amenable to the chef (too big and they will make your waffle iron difficult to close, so be wary). Make sure to eat a few to make sure that they are okay… then a few more… oh crap, remember to save some for the waffles!

Bacon candy! *drool*

Bacon candy! *drool*

Now the waffle batter!

  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk (I use 6 tbsp. buttermilk powder + water)

In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar (if using powdered buttermilk substitute, add it here to the dry ingredients).  Whisk to blend.  In a  medium bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk (or water, if using powdered buttermilk) and vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold.  Once almost fully incorporated, add the bacon bites.  Stir.  Try not to over mix the batter or the waffles will become tough.  It’s ok if a few lumps remain in the batter.

Cook according to your waffle machine instructions. Generally, you should watch the steam coming off of your iron – when it starts to slow down or stop, your waffle is probably ready. It can take a while to get through all the batter – I made at least 8 belgian-waffle sized lovelies from my batch (hard to count when they keep getting eaten). What should you do to pass the time while your waffles are cooking? Well, if you’re me, you start eating waffles! And drink beer, that’s always a good choice (it pairs very nicely with both waffles and pancakes, I’ve found). In desperate times, get out a laser-pointer and make your cat run in circles around the kitchen floor. That’s always good for a laugh! Next thing you know, your waffle will be done!

Hot, steamy waffles!

Hot, steamy waffles!

One of these days she'll catch that damn laser spot!

One of these days she'll catch that damn laser spot!

Behold! The first bacon waffle! (and there was much rejoicing)

Behold! The first bacon waffle! (and there was much rejoicing)

Serve immediately (can keep warm in a low oven while batches finish), topped with real maple syrup (none of that fake stuff, you pansies!) and butter if you dare. Be prepared for moans of extasy to escape the mouths of you and your loved ones. Make this for your date and he/she will imminently propose marriage, simply to have these waffles of love be a regular part of his or her meal schedule. Warning : Waffles-of-Love have been known to cause pregnancy in certain circumstances. Please practice safe syrup.