Posts Tagged 'almond'

pear & almond tarts

these tarts were conceived of initially as an exercise in waste management. i had lots of shortcrust pastry, lots of hopes, and so many dreams. but more to the point i had the need to not do what i was meant to be doing – a need which always, invariably ends in baking. the french left was going to have to wait…because i was filled with a sudden, unexpected and extremely pressing sense of urgency to use up my chilled pastry. and i doubt the communards would disapprove of my pear and almond tarts. as it happened, the amount of pastry i had remaining only made for ten tartlets and as a result, i was left with a glut of frangipane mixture. so i was forced to turn that into a cake. mores the pity. it was more of a cake-tart. i spent some minutes looking at the almond mixture – trying to work out the science which would transform this from tart filling to cake, in and of itself. ‘what does it need?’, i asked out loud, much to the consternation of those around me trying to record audio (yes these cakes are the product of a very artistic, if occasionally fraught environs). it had butter, it had sugar, it had eggs, and it had ground almond substituting flour. all it lacked was air and, henceforth and forthwith, lift. so i took my almond mix and to it i added one whisked up egg white and a smattering of baking powder. and poured it into a cake tin. i also lined it with the roasted pears left over from the tartlets, which were, in turn, left over from the free-form pear and raspberry tart, which were loosely based on left overs from some teacakes, which lay in the house that jack built. so here they are – the tartlets and a tart cake. both were lovely and didnt taste like leftovers at all.

ingredients

1/2 quantity shortcrust pastry – divided into ten tartlet tins – pre-baked, ready to rock

350g butter

350g sugar

350g ground almond

4 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

4 pears roasted (in oven on 200 degrees with 2 tbsp vanilla sugar and a few knobs of butter. i used vanilla paste – and tossed the pears in the sugar and vanilla in a bowl before spreading them out on a baking tray to cook – until tender which is about 30 minutes)

couple handfuls of raspberries

preheat the oven to 190 degrees. make the almond mix. beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. add in the ground almonds, then the vanilla and beat to combine. then add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. what you have now is beyond description – its golden, sweet, textually mind blowing heaven. what you no longer have is self-restraint. so at this stage, take a moment to enjoy.

pour the almond mix into the tart cases – filling them almost to the top.

then press the fruit into each one. you can of course exercise your freedoms and use any fruit you choose. and you do not need to roast them first. i did for unrelated practical reasons but mainly on account of a total lack of direction – but they did seem to taste lovely roasted, their flavour concentrated and intensified and given the tarts are only in the oven for 20 minutes, it helped that they had already had some cooking. this again depends on their ripeness. mine were like rocks.

i also used some leftover frozen raspberries – so push them into the top. frozen is probably better because there didnt appear to be any bleeding…which is all you can ask of a raspberry in a cake.

put them into the oven for 20 minutes or until golden

and then there were more….

if you are mad enough to continue on in the belief that you are responsibly managing potential waste (by making another cake that had no where to go and nothing to do, thereby only adding one more step before it all goes to the bin) then take your leftover frangipane mixture. to it, fold in one egg white, which has been whisked to stiff peaks and give it a tsp of baking powder. mix together and then pour into a greased 21cm cake tin. arrange your leftover pears on top, which ever way you see fit and push them in gently to the cake mix

put into the oven, which yes, is still on but turned down to 180 degrees for 30-40minutes or until golden brown

apple and almond cake.

…apple almond and ginger cake if youre so incline. i however, am not.

this cake made me realise a number of truths, to which i was previously either ignorant, oblivious, or indifferent. the first and most important is that chaos, complications and fuck-ups are necessary on the way to achieving greatness. the second, if you have foresight and do a little advanced planning (even over-planning such as buying 800g of almonds when you only need 300g ‘just to be on the safe side’ and having to make two extra almond recipes on account of a nut glut) is a good thing and in a recipe such as this a lack of forethought can be devastating (those prone to frontal lobe syndrome-like tendencies will fall horrendously flat on their face unless they get it together). finally, apples and almonds make for one hell of a cake. in the words of snow…’holy mother of god’. what this cake reaffirmed for me is the following a) butter and sugar, melted, creamed, or simply eaten as is, are good. b) the oxymoronic fact that experimental cooking should only be done after its been tried and tested and c) a cake made with love, especially love for a grandparent, makes for not only a better tasting cake, but so too a self-gratifying experience for its maker. so here it is, the king of cakes.

ingredients. (ive divided them into sections of making…because its a big ol mind fuck when done otherwise)

2 granny smiths

1 royal gala

30g butter

50g caster sugar

100g raisins

this is the first stage which is cooked in a pan on the stove. first peel and core apples and cut them each into 8. melt the butter in the pan, add the apple and sugar and toss to coat the apples. cook til soft (about 5 minutes), then add the raisins and cook for another minute. finally remove from the stove and let cool.

260g almond meal (dont think your clever by avoiding the saw-dust like stuff called almond meal and substituting it for ground almonds because that would not make you clever, it would make you and your cake very very stupid.)

220g almonds

2tsp baking powder

4 eggs

230g caster sugar

145ml maple syrup (i for one cannot tolerate maple syrup. most of the world would disagree the ‘most of the world’ section of my readership should ignore this parenthesis. but for those who have a similar weltanschauung i would suggest replacing the maple syrup with 100ml melted butter and 45ml orange juice.)

in a processor (or for those lacking in such fundamental kitchen aids use a bowl and pound) pulse almond meal, almonds and baking powder together.


whisk eggs and sugar and maple syrup until pale and doubled in volume.

add nut mixture and cooled apple mixture and fold to combine. pour into a greased 26cm tin.


finally and foremost, the topping. that which takes this from cake to something so much more

2 royal gala

50g roughly chopped almonds

30g butter melted

50g sugar (25 demerrera, 25 brown)

core and thinly slice the apples. if you find royal galas intolerable use granny smiths. if you only decided you find royal galas intolerable when you are at the topping stage, use what granny smiths remain, curse yourself and maybe those around you for not being more attentive at the preparatory stage to both your quantities and your emotional state as well as the potential for a sudden and unexpected change of heart resulting in the need for 5 granny smiths instead of the original 3. arrange over the top of the cake. scatter with the chopped almonds. drizzle with butter then scatter with sugars.


bake for 60-75 minutes. its beautiful and i think im ready to say, in full recognition of the profound weight this statement will bear and in full acknowledgement of maureens chocolate cake which was my first glorious foray into the world of baking, this is the greatest cake on earth.

vanilla almond and apricot bars

muesli bars? really? well yes but its not just filler. its because some dark traumatic months a year or two back apricot and almond bars became my lifeblood. only the other day did i taste one again and amongst the bleakness and deeply repressed sadness they conjured, so too was there was a glimmer of fuck they’re good. and also some questions: how are they bound? isnt melted butter the only one true unbreakable binding force of this society? and yet not a hint of butter in sight. where are the oats, where is the solid which holds this ethereal delight together? so many questions…i became weary and had to sit down. after days of sitting and much thinkings later, i decided the closest i could come was a muesli bar with puffed rice, shredded not dessicated coconut and mostly whole almonds. the end result posted here has nothing or no one to do with this vision. because to make things more difficult i had a request for a non-lumpy snack food thats healthy but can have chocolate, with no oats unless you cant see them but most importantly, one that didnt require chewing. so i decided on an apricot almond bar – with instant oats not rolled (because you cant see them if you dont want to) and one which was entirely overwhelmed with the intoxicating scent of vanilla. an amalgam of needs. and here it is…


ingredients.

300g oats (rolled if you want high visibility oats, instant if you dont because of a reason i still dont understand)

100g coconut (dessicated)

200g melted butter

200g golden syrup (this is your bulk standard wet binding agent – i dont care for it at all so i use 100ml honey and 100ml apple juice which i think is not unclever)

vanilla extract (it would seem redundant to put a quantity here)

150g brown sugar

dried apricots (150g or the whole 600g bag depending on what your position on excess is)

150g almonds (roughly chopped)

get oven to 180 degrees. in a bowl combine the oats, coconut, apricots, almonds et al. in a pan melt the butter with the sugar and syrup and stir.


and finally…wet into dry just like a muffin or any other sweet, baked incarnation of the sublime.


theyre good. chewy but not too much chewing. theyre healthy…except maybe for the butter and sugar but then i think its probably more unhealthy in some ways not to have butter and sugar. theyre no exile bar and they might be a bit oaty but i think they represent a middle ground which we can all tread together.