Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weekend Tarts

I'm going to Alec's place tonight for a pot-luck dinner and to play bridge. I'm bringing dessert, and I decided on tarte au citron with an almond pastry (because I have a lot of ground almonds that need using). The pastry recipe came from here, but I used brown sugar instead of golden caster sugar - because I didn't have golden caster sugar. I also increased the recipe by half, because I wasn't sure there'd be enough.

Last night, 300 g flour, 250 g ground almonds, 250 g brown sugar, and 300 g butter went into the food processor …

… which didn't do a terribly good job of turning them into breadcrumb-looking things.

I used my hands in the end. One egg yolk was enough to bind it, probably because brown sugar is quite moist.

I pressed dough into my big tart dish, using a glass to roll the middle flat and to get the edges nice and smooth. Smoother than my finger would have anyway:

I needn't have made extra pastry - I had loads left over. Enough for a smaller tart shell:

And some biscuits:

I used my "Brigitte Keks" biscuit cutter to make them, with "Bridge" embossed on the tops.

I'm going to stick them together with raspberry jam and take them to bridge on Thurday night for our table's supper. They used to provide tea and biscuits and ladies to prepare them, but financial pressure has left us to our own devices recently.

The tart shells went into the fridge overnight, and I baked them blind this morning after the bread came out of the oven.

I baked them for 20 minutes or so with the beans in, then another 15 or so after I removed them.

The smaller one still seemed too raw, so I left it in the cooling oven for a bit longer:

And forgot it. It's a bit more cooked than I'd like, but I tasted a crumb and it doesn't taste burnt.

The recipe for the centre of the tart comes from Margaret Fulton's Superb Restaurant Dishes. I modified it by using yoghurt instead of cream, and by using limes instead of oranges.

You need about one and a quarter cups of mixed orange and lemon juice, I used a bit less than that, mostly lemon and some lime. You need the grated zest of two lemons, I used one lemon and two limes:

Then three quarters of a cup of sugar and four eggs:

You beat the eggs, sugar, juice, and zest together well.

Then you're supposed to melt together a quarter of a cup of cream and two ounces of butter. I didn't have cream, so I used yoghurt instead. Milk would have curdled. It says to cook over a low heat - I used my big double boiler just to be on the safe side.

Once the butter's melted you add the beaten sugar, juice etc. and stir together, still over the low heat, until slightly thickened:

Then you pour the custard into the pie crust and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or so, until it's set. While it's in the oven you need to peel and segment two lemons (I used a lemon and a lime), removing all of the membranes. The easiest way to do this is to peel them with a sharp knife right down to the flesh, then you take the knife again and slice down each side of each segment:

You end up with a pile of nice peeled segments, and a couple of fan-like membraney bits:

When the custard has set, arrange the segments over the top of the tart and sprinkle lavishly with icing sugar. Then you stick the tart back in the oven under a hot grill (broiler for Americans) until the top is nicely browned.

My grill wanted to cook the edges more than the insides, so I got out my trusty $8 gas soldering iron (minus the soldering head) …

… and blow-torched the rest of it to match:

It looks quite professional, I think - I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Then I thought I may as well do something with the slightly overcooked shell too. I decided on chocolate, mostly because I found a tin of mandarin segments in the cupboard. I got a couple of rows of a chocolate bar…

… and melted them in the double boiler with half a cup or so of milk …

… and a decent sized shake of cocoa powder:

When they were melted I added two eggs beaten with half a cup of sugar and proceeded as for the lemon tart …

… pouring most of the custard into the pastry case when it was slightly thickened …

… and decorating it with mandarin segments, before baking this time:

I continued cooking the left over custard until it was properly thick, and put it in a little jar to cool:

It's really nice on bread and butter.

And I didn't waste the lemon and lime peel either - candied peel post coming up in a few days when it's finished.


Almond pastry (modified from the BBC)

300g plain flour
250g ground almonds
250g brown sugar
300g cold butter , diced
1 egg yolk

Make the pastry by tipping all the ingredients, except the yolk, into a food processor and pulsing to the texture of breadcrumbs. I had to rub it in with my fingers.
Add the yolk, then mix until it all comes together to form a soft pastry.
The pastry will be too soft to roll out, so press it evenly into a loose-based 25cm tart tin (I used a bigger glass one) until the pastry comes up above the edges of the tin. I managed to roll out the pastry for the small tart and the biscuits.
Rest in the freezer for at least 20 mins. I left mine in the fridge overnight.
Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Line the tart case with baking parchment and baking beans, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 mins until the edges are starting to brown. Remove the beans and paper, then continue to cook for 10 mins until almost cooked. Leave to cool.

Tarte au citron (modified from Margaret Fulton's Superb Restaurant Dishes)

2/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice (I used slightly less lime juice)
grated zest of two lemons (I used 1 lemon and two limes)
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 oz butter
1/4 cup cream (I used yoghurt)
12 inch tart shell

Beat together the first five ingredients
Melt the butter with the cream over a low heat.
Add in the egg mixture and stir over low heat until thickened slightly. Don't let it boil.
Pour custard into cooked 12 inch tart shell and bake at 170°C until set. About 20 - 25 minutes.
Decorate the top with peeled lemon segments and sprinkle heavily with icing sugar.
Place under a hot grill (broiler) until browned. Or caramelise with a blow-torch.

You're supposed to serve it warm, but I'm taking mine elsewhere so I can't.

Chocolate mandarin tart (very heavily modified from the above lemon filling)

~80 g dark chocolate
~ 1/2 cup milk
~ 2 tbsp Dutch process cocoa
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tin mandarin segments
8 inch tart shell

Beat eggs and sugar together well.
Melt first three ingredients together in a double boiler.
Add egg mixture and stir over low heat until slightly thickened.
Pour into 8 inch tart shell and decorate with drained mandarin segments.
Bake at 170°C until set.

Chocolate spread

Excess chocolate tart filling

Continue to cook in double boiler until thickened completely. Try not to let it actually boil, but it does curdle a little. Scrape into a jar and leave until cold. Spread on bread and butter.

Bridge biscuits

Left over almond pastry scraps
Raspberry jam

Roll out all the pastry scraps and cut into circles or rectangles with cookie cutters.
Bake at 180°C until golden brown.
Cool on wire rack.

When cool, sandwich together with raspberry jam or chocolate spread.

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