17 September 2011

Mini Bakewell Tarts

I'm not really sure how to go about this post. I have not been baking or posting as much as I would like recently and there are a few reasons for this which I feel I should probably share with you lovely people that for some reason continue to delight me with your presence on my blog :)

Earlier this year, a few months before I started food blogging, my Dad very sadly passed away. He had had a lot of heart attacks in the past (11 in fact, he was a walking miracle!) but since a triple by-pass in 1998 he seemed to be absolutely fine. On the 9th February this year, my Mum and her partner turned up on my doorstep in University just before midnight, sat me down, and told me that he had been found at his home on the sofa, with his newspaper in hand (he always did the daily cryptic crossword, my Mum still has the paper from the day of my birth and he somehow managed to complete it whilst she was in labour!) and my little sausage dog Penny rather anxiously by his side. He had suffered a massive heart attack and most likely knew nothing about it, the only comfort really is that if he could have chosen that is probably how he would have wanted to go, content and at home. It has taken some time to sink in, well in all honesty I don't think it truly has yet. He left me as a main executor of his will so recently I have been rather busy dealing with a lot of legal stuff that mostly goes over my head in all honesty! We unfortunately have no option but to part with the house, so I have had to learn rather fast about equity releases, mortgages, solicitors/estate agents and their fees (greedy bums.) etc and this means I have had a lot less time to do what has been my distraction, rather successfully!, for the past few months - baking of course :)

I try to keep upbeat and go about life as normal, if anything I try even harder to live life now than I did before. By chance I wasn't very well at the time, I won't go into details but I was in 'n out of hospital and one of the last things my Dad said to me as he hugged me goodbye to university was to please not get any worse. For him I fought my hardest and now I can nearly confidently say I am almost back to how I was before. I stayed at uni during it all and tried to do my Dad proud by completing my 2nd year exams (which I did, and passed, hurrah!) as education was incredibly important to him. And this leads me onto my second reason for my gradual decline in posting, I have been getting ready to return to my final year at uni. I am saddened to be returning on the one hand as blogging has become really rather important to me. The kindness shown by so many of you is what got me through some darker days and for that I am eternally grateful, so to know that in a week or so it will become pretty tricky to blog regularly if at all disheartens me to say the least. I hope that I will be able to bake at least once a week, or fortnight even, but in reality I am unsure

If I do not get to post much, I hope that come the Christmas holidays when I will be back home (and no doubt baking my little socks off to make up for lost time!) that you may rejoin me then. What will be will be and all that, I may well carry on posting but this is a just-in-case message as I am a crazy over-thinker!

I couldn't post without a recipe now though could I? :) It had been a long week, I took the first lot of people on a viewing around my Dad's house yesterday which made things hit home a bit more, so today I made sure to make some 'me time' and let me tell you, these were a very good choice indeed; a few steps that kept me busy for a while (but were not taxing by any means), some favourite flavours of mine, and any treats in miniature form just make me smile!

These really were delicious little tea-time bites. The pastry was gorrgeousllyy flakey, the frangipane so so soft and the jam the perfect partner in crime. I have to say I think they could do with a bit more flavour though so next time (which I really think there will be as they are just so cute! and kinda tasty too...) I am tempted to put a dash more jam in. This time I used 1/2 tsp of apricot conserve in half of them and 1/2 tsp raspberry conserve in the rest, upping the amount could be dangerous and result in a jammy sticky mess but I like ma'jam so think its worth a shot. I may bump up the almondy level of the frangipane by adding a little almond extract. Also I was a tinnnyy bit sceptical about the lack of ANY salt in the recipe, so might try using salted butter (or add a pinch of salt) in the pastry. All in all though this is a wonderful recipe indeed, they gave me a great deal of pleasure in both the making and consuming :)

Mini Bakewell Tarts
Adapted from The Great British Bake Off
Makes 12

For the Pastry
200g all-purpose flour
100g unsalted butter, chilled + cubed
40g powdered (icing) sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp fruit conserve/jam*

For the Frangipane Filling
55g unsalted butter, softened
55g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
40g ground almonds
15g all-purpose flour

To Decorate
50g icing sugar, sifted
fresh berries

For the pastry: sift the flour into a large bowl and rub/cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
Sift in the icing sugar and cut in the beaten egg using a knife
Press together into a ball, wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes

Grease a 12 hole muffin tray
Roll out the pastry between 2 sheets of parchment to 3mm thickness
Use a 5cm round cutter to cut out 12 discs and use to line the bases in the tray
Cut 12 strips of dough roughly 2.5 cm x 15 cm** and line the sides of the muffin tin, making sure there are no gaps and thoroughly pressing together the pastry at the seams to seal
Chill for 15 minutes

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F
For the filling: beat all ingredients together until smooth
To assemble: prick the base of the pastry cases with a fork, put 1/2 tsp jam in each, top with the frangipane, about 2 tsp per tart
Bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is risen and golden
Cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely

For the decoration: mix icing sugar with enough water to form a slightly runny paste and decorate the cooled tarts. Press a few fresh berries onto the icing if desired

* Original recipe is for blueberry bakewell tarts. If you wish to make your own blueberry jam heat together 125g (fresh or frozen) blueberries with 1 Tbsp caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes after the berries burst until the mixture is very thick. Sieve to remove skins and let cool completely
** Original says to cut 12 strips measuring 1 x 20 cm, I tried this and still for the life of me cannot figure out how this would work! It isn't long enough to wrap around twice but is too thin to go up the sides of the tin if you only go round once...if anyone can enlighten me please do!

        Dinky little Printable

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