Tuesday, 7 July 2015

cherry & coconut bakewell tart - an ode to our Indian summer

I've been obsessing about cherries lately and planned to bake a pie on the weekend. I'm on a pie craze at the moment having recalled one of my favourite films - Waitress. You know the one where a crises-ridden Keri Russell bakes her way out of suffocating misery? I just love films like that, depressing as hell but somehow full of optimism and a happy ending, which may or may not be conventional. I.e. the girl doesn't always get the guy or even want the guy. Or vice versa. I know I told you that I’d be baking a pie but the the fusspot siblings weren't in the mood for pie and I almost gave up on baking anything altogether until my dad returned home with a punnet of organic cherries! It's like he read my mind:)

I took this as a sign that I should make something to keep the sweet crimson cherries company. I was determined to perfect my pastry crust, so decided on a tart with a slightly different take on the traditional almond frangipane filling that creates the famous Bakewell tart. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to cooking and anything that's judged as just 'ok, could be better, or you could've done xyz' will put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day.

My family and I were invited to dinner at my cousins over the weekend. This of course included overindulgence, too many fried goodies and my white chocolate and lemon pound cake. I didn't put the recipe up cos guess what? It didn't look the way I wanted it to look! It did however taste amazing, so I will bake it again and add pronto. So anyway I promised myself that I would go easy on the desserts for a while...but you know what? Life’s too short not to bake the perfect pastry crust, line it with glistening home-made cherry jam and fill with a rich frangipane. Baking waits for no one. C'est la vie!

Besides, owing to the Indian summer we've been blessed with (tortured by because I do not like anything above about 20 degrees) I've only been running essential errands and could not force myself to locate my misplaced pie dish.  Instead I've ransacked my mum’s kitchen to come up with ideas and provisions to bake you an amazing tart. It's not oozing full of cherries like a cherry pie would have been but it is tropical weather inspired, and I promise you it tastes absolutely divine! Golden flakey pastry, slightly tart cherry and a gorgeous blend of almond and coconut, with the coconut lending a lovely macaroon-like texture to the filling. What’s not to love?

For the pastry
150g flour
80g chilled butter - chopped
2 tbs caster sugar
About 5 tbs chilled water

Cherry jam
250g sweet cherries (weight before being pitted)
50g sugar
2 tbs lemon juice

Frangipane Filling
2 small free range eggs
70ml oil - I prefer rapeseed
30ml milk
75g ground almonds
75g dessicated coconut
30g plain flour
1 tsp almond extract
135g caster sugar
2 tbs flaked almonds for sprinkling on top

60g Icing sugar
2-3 tbs cold water

Prepare the pastry by mixing chilled butter and flour with your fingertips to form a coarse breadcrumb-like crumbs. Add the chilled water a couple of tbs at a time and bring together with a knife until the mixture is just coming together.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like a dough at this point. The mixture should appear a little dry. Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and bring together by pushing gently with your hands and form into a slightly flattened round. Cover with cling-film and refrigerate for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, make the cherry jam by adding pitted and halved cherries to a pan with sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil. Simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until mixture thickens to a slightly runny jam consistency. You can test that it’s done by placing a drop of jam on a saucer and running your finger down the centre. If the gap holds, then it’s done.

Roll out chilled dough on a floured surface so that it's a few inches bigger in diameter from your 8 inch tart tin. Using your rolling pin, lift the pastry and cover the tin so that it falls naturally. Gently push the pastry in around the inside edges. Using a sharp knife cut off excess pastry from the top and chill for a further 20 mins.

Preheat oven to 200c or 180c fan/gas mark 6 and remove the pastry case from the refrigerator and using a fork prick the surface of the pastry to prevent puffing up whilst baking. I didn’t blind bake – but you can if you want by placing some dried beans on the pastry. Bake for 7 mins.

Reduce the oven to 180c or 160c fan/gas mark 4, and while the pastry case is cooling make the frangipane by whisking eggs in a bowl with sugar, oil, almond extract and milk. To this wet batter add desiccated coconut, ground almonds and flour until it forms a thick but soft paste. 

Add the cooled cherry jam to the pastry case using a spoon carefully place the frangipane mix into on top. Add a sprinkle of flaked almonds and bake for 30 mins.

Once fully cooled mix about 60grams of icing sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of cold water to make a thick icing and decorate the tart with a crisscross pattern or however you fancy. Perfect with a cup of tea:) 

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