Gosh, it sure has been a while. Sorry about that! This week I’ve been thinking a lot about almonds. Last I touched on the subject, my ode to Mary was to expand a moderately sized recipe to a jumbo tart. This time I’m taking things in the other direction. I’m going to embark on some mini bakewells. Not the Kipling kind, smothered in icing, but a light, moist, and sweet bakewell wrapped in a sweet shortcrust.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
- 500g plain flour
- 250g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 100g icing sugar
- 2 large eggs
- dash of milk
- 220g butter
- 220g caster sugar
- 220g ground almonds
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp almond extract
- handful of flaked almonds to decorate
- lots of raspberry jam
- 12 hole muffin tin, or any sized deep muffin tin
- baking parchment
- oven preheated to 180º celsius (fan 160º)
Right, much like other shortcrust and pie recipes, you don’t need to rush with this. The longer you chill your dough, the easier it’ll be to work with. Unlike my previous bakewell, I’m opting for a sweet shortcrust pastry this time. This is because the pastry to filling ratio is much higher than a large tart recipe, so a plain shortcrust would be a bit bland. Start by sifting the icing sugar and flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut your cold butter up into small cubes and drop into the flour. Rub the butter into your flour mix until you have an even breadcrumb texture.
Lightly whisk your eggs and milk in a small bowl, then pour it into the large bowl. Using your hand or fork, incorporate the eggy mixture into the flour, bringing the dough together slowly. Next get your hands involved in forming the dough into a ball. Try not to overwork the mixture, as we’ll want to keep the pastry short and crumbly. Once you can get it into a ball, take it out of the bowl and place it onto a floured surface. Shape the pastry into a round, dust lightly with flour, then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you’re ready to start baking for reals.
There’s a little arts and crafts prep work before cutting your dough. You’ll want to take a large ring pastry cutter and cut out some circular baking parchment shapes, which you’ll be using for your muffin tin to blind bake your tart cases. You’ll want to shape the discs into the groove of the muffin tin to make the blind bake easier. When you’ve made enough to line each of your muffin tin slots, you’re ready to start preparing your pastry. This’ll be a good test to getting the right cutter size too ;)
Lightly grease your muffin tin. Take your chilled pastry dough from the fridge and roll it out to a 2mm thickness. using an [xCM] cutter, cut out enough circles to fill your tin. When placing the pastry in the muffin holes, use an off-cut of your pastry in a ball to push the pastry flush against the walls of the muffin tin. They will look rustic! Once you’re happy, put the tin in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes before blind baking.
Preheat the oven. Using your baking parchment circles cut earlier, place them over the pastry and throw in some dried rice or baking balls and blind bake for 12 minutes. Remove the parchment and bake for another 5 minutes. Set aside and prepare your frangipane.
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once fully melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar. Stir until combined, then add in the ground almonds, egg, and almond extract. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Back at your tart cases, place ½ a teaspoon of jam in the bottom of each, before pouring in a healthy amount of frangipane mix and placing back in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then take out and add some flaked almonds to each. Finish off for a further 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on the tart crusts.
Because this is a flourless frangipane it will not set like a sponge. There’s also a slight risk of jam eruption, but these are the small joys of a rustic tart.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. If you wish, quickly mix a small amount of icing sugar with some water to create an icing drizzle to glaze your mini bakewell tarts.