Father's Day In Desertville
8:15 am: And the adventure begins! It's coming close to the end of the month and I haven't yet made this month's Daring Baker Challenge. This challenge comes from Jolly Olde England, with the following secret password:
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.
And, so, my kitchen is starting to bubble and whir with activity. A Bakewell Tart (and I'm sticking with that story, no pudding spoons will accompany dessert tonight) is a sweet pastry crust smeared with jam and topped with frangipane, which is somewhere between an almond custard and an almond cake. They are delicious and I've never made one before. This morning's preparations include grinding almonds (check!) and making pan jam sensu Jasmine's creation. The jam is just starting to bubble away now.
Thanks to this challenge and the ongoing, and therefore, top secret Daring Cooks challenge, I found myself justifying the purchase of a kitchen scale. I'm using the very last not-quite-500-grams of my Alaska berries. I've already mourned the last of the blueberries and cranberries, but now the last of my mixed blueberries/cranberries/bear berries are in a pan with 100 grams of sugar on their way to becoming the jam layer. It's more sugar to berries than Jasmine suggests, but bear berries and slightly under-ripe cranberries? Not so sweet.
8:47 am: But wait -- my worst nightmare has come true: I am Out Of Butter. There are two or three tablespoons in the butter dish, but a search of both freezers demonstrates a complete and utter lack of back-up. How did I let this happen?? It puts a serious crimp in making the crust. And the frangipane.
(Now, truthfully, being Out Of Butter is not my worst nightmare. I have a toddler, after all. She is very capable of inspiring much, much worse nightmares. But being Out Of Butter ranks right up there in my culinary nightmare situations. I love butter.)
And so what to do? If I was certain that the gas station carried butter, I'd drive the 16 miles each way to get some, but I'm not. They only carry single-serve milk and we've learned that they don't really stock bread, so staples are not their specialty.
This is where the isolated part of the blog title really comes into play. Bleah.
2:43 pm: Back on track after a 70 mile round-trip drive to get butter. I justified that sojourn on the basis of needing gas for our car that does not go to town. It relies on a gas can that has been very much empty since before vacation. Husband fears the car won't get him home from work tomorrow if it doesn't get a gas infusion, so the gas was necessary. I thought that the second-closest gas station (where gas is close to a dollar cheaper than at the closest, price-gouging station) would have butter, but it didn't. Luckily, it is located in a "company town" with a very- well-hidden company store that welcomes non-company customers. They had butter.
So now Little Girl is napping, my crust is formed into a disk and resting in the refrigerator, the butter for the frangipane is softening in a mixing bowl, and I am going to have a belated lunch.
5:21 pm: Once again, my trusty rolling jar was dragged out to do the honors. I think that might have been the ugliest rolled crust I've ever made, but once it was in the pie plate and trimmed, it looked pretty good. I know y'all are getting tired of this, but -- surprise! -- my tart pan is in storage. So the tart's in just a plain, old pie plate.
I spread a goodly quantity of jam without measuring and then topped it up with the frangipane mixture. I set the timer for 25 minutes so I could toss the almond slivers on before it was done, but something made me check it at 20 minutes and it was already a deep brown. I got my slivers on and gave it another five minutes until I thought the center seemed more or less set. It looks good as it cools on the counter and I've got dinner almost made, too!
I'm making the tart as a Father's Day treat, so I sure hope the resident father likes it. Husband's a bit unpredictable on sweets, so I've hedged my bets by planning tamales and a black bean salsa/salad for dinner. That is a sure thing. I'm not convinced that the two courses will go together, but we'll live with it. Husband does not do flan (it's another texture thing), so he won't be expecting that particular Mexican classic.
8:08 pm: A success! The tart was well-received by its intended audience. It sliced beautifully and tasted just as it should: fruity and almond-y and delicious.
My dough was probably a little thinner than it should have been and I had lots of trimmings, so if I hadn't been so ham-fisted with the rolling, it might have been perfect. I would have preferred a thicker jam layer, but when I voiced that thought, Husband was very quick to squash that idea, citing his dislike of "jammy textures". It is a well-established dislike.
So, many thanks to Jasmine and Annemarie for providing the inspiration for a successful Father's Day dessert!