June 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge – Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Here’s a bit of information regarding the tart and the challenge hosts’ take on whether or not it’s a tart or a pudding:

Bakewell tarts are a classic English dessert, abounding in supermarket baking sections and in ready-made, mass-produced forms, some sporting a thick sugary icing and glazed cherry on top for decorative effect.

Is it a tart or is it a pudding?  Someone once said something like “The Bakewell pudding is a dessert. The Bakewell tart is that girl over there.”

It’s a debate that rages on and we aren’t taking sides on this one. But we will say that many people call this pudding a tart.

While we’re at it…
The etymology of pudding is a rather interesting and slightly convoluted one. The naming confusion may come from the British manner of referring to the dessert course as ‘pudding’ (as well as referring to fat babies by the same name, though we don’t think that is what was the inspiration in this case). And so any dessert is a pudding until another name comes along and adds clarity to what it really is.

Well, I’m calling it a tart so there.  I’m getting this baby done just under the wire.  Eek!  Making this challenge is a first for me.  I’d never heard of Bakewell Tart before, but after reading the recipe, I was excited to try it.  I’d never made pastry crust before either (lame, I know), but it came together much easier than I anticipated.  I cheated and used a locally-made strawberry jam instead of making my own.  The end result was delicious, and I had a lot of fun making this challenge!  Thanks to Jasmine and Annemarie for hosting!  Please visit the the Daring Bakers’ Blogroll and The Daring Kitchen to view other Bakers’ creations.

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Bakewell Tart

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Published in: on June 27, 2009 at 9:37 pm  Comments (19)  

June 2009 Daring Cooks’ Challenge – Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

Ok, I’m waaaaay freaking late on posting my creation.  I’ve been fried due to my new job and finally found the time to make these this last weekend.  This month’s challenge was hosted by Jen of use real butter.  She chose Chinese Dumplings or Potstickers as the challenge.  While I’ve eaten these before, I’ve never attempted to make them.  These took a while to make due to having to roll out the dough, but they were relatively easy to make.  I ended up frying them instead of steaming them and used a purchased dipping sauce.  The end result was delicious!  I might make these again if I have the time, but they were time-consuming, so I don’t see myself doing it anytime soon.  Thanks, Jen, for hosting this month’s challenge!

Here they are right after I formed them:


They didn’t look too bad.

And here’s the end result:


Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers


pork filling:


  • 1 lb (450g) ground pork
  • 4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
  • 3 stalks green onions, minced
  • 7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
  • 1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
  • 1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
  • 3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (113g) warm water
  • flour for work surface


Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Make the dough: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side.  Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Comments (9)  

Product Review – Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce

A while back, Al Malekovic, from Country Bob’s asked me if I’d like to test their All Purpose Sauce and put my thoughts about it on my blog.  I’d never tried the sauce before, so I was totally game!  Along with the sauce, they included some recipe brochures.  I made the Corn Pone Pie minus the cornbread topping and substituted pasta instead.  I’m sure it would have been good with it, but I wasn’t feelin’ it that day.  The sauce is good!  It tastes sort of like a sweeter version of A-1 Sauce.  I plan to include it in my rotation of condiments.  Please visit Country Bob’s website for more product information and recipes.

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Corn Pone Pie (Sort of…courtesy of Country Bob’s)


  • 1 16 oz pkg elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/3 c onion
  • 1 c stewed tomatoes
  • 1 c Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
  • 1 (15.25) can corn, drained
  • Shredded cheddar cheese


1.  Cook the pasta according to directions.  Set aside.

2.  Brown the ground turkey.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.

3.  Stir in the tomatoes, Sauce, chili powder, and salt.  Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

4.  Discard about half the bean liquid; stir in the beans and remaining liquid and the corn into the turkey mixture.  Add the cooked pasta.  Cook until heated through.

5.  Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm  Comments (1)  

Monster Cookies

I’ve been lax with respect to blogging lately because I’ve just started a new job, and I’m trying to get used to my new, really early hours.  I did find time to make these cookies, though!  Although it’s hard to choose a favorite cookie given my addiction to anything sweet, these are probably my favorite.  I love the overload of stuff in them.  They’re pretty much guaranteed to make your ass expand.

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Monster Cookies (Adapted from Betty Crocker)


  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 c peanut butter
  • ½ c butter or margarine, softened
  • ½ c butter-flavor or regular shortening
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ c old-fashioned oats
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 c M&Ms
  • 1 c chocolate chips
  • 1 c peanuts
  • ¾ c raisins


1.  Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat sugars, peanut butter, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in oats. Stir in flour, baking powder and baking soda thoroughly. Stir in candies, peanuts and raisins.

2.  On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by slightly less than 1/4 cupfuls about 2 inches apart. Flatten to 3/4-inch thickness with bottom of glass.

3.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes or just until cookies are set and begin to brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 5:07 pm  Comments (3)