That took far longer than it should have been. What is stated on the recipe as a 1-2 hour job, it feels like I have been working on this all day. If and when I repeat this challenge next year I really need to work on my timings, because I remain to be a slow baker. But by god am I happy with it. The shortcrust pastry wasn’t entirely up to scratch but the overall effect is pleasing and the top decoration worked a treat.
I am also happy to report that I did decide to try making the jam from scratch this time. I’m even happier to say that it did seem to work. After it had set it was a little thick which made it more difficult to spread about, but that wasn’t the main problem. You may recall when I was making the Viennese Whirls, that I was afraid of making the jam and ruining one of my Mum’s pans. Well… a photo has is in the gallery at the bottom.
At the time of writing this post, the pan is soaking and hopefully I’ll be able to get it looking sparkling and clean once more. It just needs a bit of elbow grease. Who knew there was so much drama in baking!
WEEK 5: BAKEWELL TART
Getting the pastry right was the trickiest thing. It’s essentially the make or break of this challenge. The ingredients all form together quite nicely, but I was left with a dough that was basically too sticky. I had to keep sprinkling helpings of flour into the mixture and knead it like bread to get it soft, and even then there were still visible cracks that just wouldn’t disappear. The same thing happened with my Dampfnudel.
The second issue with it was actually getting it moulded into the flan tin. I had to roll out my pastry a good three or four times before I successfully got it into the tin. Each time it would just be that little bit too thin and either broke apart when I tried to get it off my work surface, or wouldn’t stretch out to the edges. Which brings me to my first top tip for this week:
WORDS OF ADVICE
When rolling out your pastry, try rolling it on some baking parchment or a baking tray. It can be a bit fiddly, but you then have the option of turning the tray upside down over the flan tin, so that the pastry falls gently over it.
Using the tray wasn’t perfect. I still needed to put plenty of flour to stop it from sticking entirely, but it made it a lot more manageable when transferring it from A to B. Which brings me to another top tip from my experience:
WORDS OF ADVICE
If you are using a flan tin with a removable base (which is recommended for the end), be careful not to knock it when taking the Tart in and out of the oven. What I ended up doing was using a pizza tray to rest it on. This made it more stable when putting it in and out of the oven, and the holes in the bottom allow the heat to come through.
I did leave my pastry hanging over the sides of the pan, before it went into the oven. I wasn’t entirely sure when to cut those away (the recipe didn’t say anything), so I just left it until it was cooked and had a more solid shape before trying to tidy up the edges. Aside from not being a smooth finish, the sides of my tart were far too thin whereas the base was far too thick. I suppose that’s advisable so that it holds the filling without it collapsing in on itself, but that thickness needed spreading to have a more solid surround.
The rest was pretty straight forward. It was getting the pastry right that was the challenge. Other than nearly destroying one of our pans, making the jam was a simple three steps and set nicely. The sponge filling came together quickly and browned nicely in the oven and the icing on top was thick enough so that it did not run, but thin enough so it could easily spread without sticking to my pallet knife.
There was no pink food colouring available, so I had to settle for red and instead of piping it as the recipe asked for, I ended up using the sauce bottle that I used for the pancakes last week. Once I’d gotten the icing thin enough, the bottle worked wonders in getting the swirly lines across the surface and using a cocktail stick, I struck across them at intervals to give that final presentation design.
I can’t say how it tastes yet. We haven’t dared cut into it, but all in all, I love what I’ve come out with this week. It may have taken me far more hours than it should have, but that time was well spent getting it as good as I could.
Not quite beaten the Viennese Whirls yet, but it definitely hits second place.
This week’s challenge came to you from the legendary Mary Berry and can be found right here, for those wanting to have a go.