Another day, another bake.
This time it’s one I can share with people at work. A huge sacrifice on their part, as you can imagine.
This bake is in the section immediately following the cakes. What is that section, you ask? Sweet pastry and patisserie. Pay attention, already.
I still have nine recipes left in this section, so I had a few choices, but I landed on this recipe because I’ve put off trying frangipane long enough.
Also, fun fact, I have been to the birthplace of this particular tart. And in all my (limited) travels, it is the cutest town I’ve ever been to.
The crust for this particular bake is puff pastry. Either the puff pastry I have already tried (originally done for the tapenade twists) or puff pastry from a package. Since I’ve already proven to myself I can in fact make a puff pastry (even though it hardly puffed), I figured I could use an out and go with the store-bought stuff.
When I went to the store, however, it didn’t have my usual go-to puff pastry brand. It only had another brand that was unfamiliar to me. When I brought it home, all ready to bake that night, I realized it needed an hour or overnight to thaw and, since it wasn’t in the usual size I purchase that is easy to defrost with a baked glass pie dish, I decided that it was a sign for me to just put it off another night.
So the night that I actually baked, I opened up the package to find not one, but two sheets of puff pastry.
Mary and Paul tell me to use one 375 gram pack of all-butter puff pastry, but they did not tell me what to do in the case of one 450 gram pack with two sheets.
Instead of doubling-up on sheets, I decided to just use one and find a use for the second sheet in the next couple of days.
Which brings us to the tin choice.
In the past, I have been fooled by recipes that call for a “deep tin” as I have yet to actually fill the deepness of a tin or dish (with only a couple of exceptions). Therefore I ignored this advice and went with my shallower flan tin.
Mary and Paul want straight-sided if possible, but I refuse to go out and buy yet another baking dish. I’m running out of room. My coworkers will have to just put up with a fluted flan tin (is that the proper term? I think so).
And I have to say, I think I will be purchasing this puff pastry again.
I didn’t even have to roll it out!
I barely stretched it to fit into the shallow flan tin, and managed to push the pastry into the corners without tearing it. It was, in short, a breeze.
I heartily recommend the sheets of puff pastry instead of the blocks of puff pastry.
Continuing on with the instructions that have, until now, been bizarrely easy, I prick the base of the pastry with a fork and pop it into the fridge with the excess pastry hanging over the edge.
*30 minutes later*
With the pastry sufficiently chilled, and the oven preheating, I pulled it out of the fridge and got to trimming the excess. Mary and Paul told me to use a sharp knife and take care not to drag the pastry, but I ignored that advice and instead opted for a technique I saw in an episode of The Great British Bake Off.
I was pretty smug when I first started to do this and thought I was a complete genius. But then the pastry wasn’t actually coming apart and I started feeling less smug. but then I rolled it a few more times and treated the edge more like perforated paper than cut pastry and it worked!
Also, good news folks, I purchased more baking beads.
So hopefully there will be less shrink-back with this recipe than what I’ve experienced with past pies and tarts.
It’s time to bake!
*15 minutes later*
Mary and Paul told me to bake blind for 12 to 15 minutes before removing the beads and baking for another 12 minutes, but my fear of shrink-back was real so I did it for the full 15 minutes, assuming everything would be fine.
Narrator: Everything was not fine.
The pastry puffed.
The pastry puffed a lot.
Maybe I should’ve used a homemade puff pastry. The puff of this pastry has pretty much filled the flan tin.
I probably also should’ve used a deep flan tin.
But maybe baking it a little more will sort things out.
Narrator: Baking it a little more did not sort things out.
I hope this will turn out.
*another 12 to 15 minutes later*
It may not turn out.
I have no idea how I’m going to pour frangipane into this when this is pretty much a solid block of puff pastry.
The one time I don’t go with the deep flan tin and this happens.
Not much I can do about that for now, so I decided to start on the filling, beginning with eggs and sugar (though not as much sugar, because the world needs less sugar).
Am I the only one who sees a teddy bear or a panda bear? Or some kind of cute bear?
Is this like looking at clouds?
If clouds were made of piles of sugar and whole egg yolks, then yes!
With those two ingredients added to the bowl, I could start whisking.
Mary and Paul told me to whisk “for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is very thick, pale and mousse-like.” And can I just say how much I appreciate the instructions in this recipe book? Some recipe books will tell you the time you’re supposed to do something for; e.g., 4-5 minutes. Other recipe books may tell you what to look for; e.g., thick, pale and mousse-like. But the fact that Mary and Paul provide me with both helps a lot.
That way when it reached 4-5 minutes, I could check the consistency. And when it reached the consistency, I could check the time.
The point is, I did what they told me to do and it worked.
With that ready, I could add the almond flour, almond liqueur* and double cream.
Except that I didn’t have almond liqueur.
A lot of these recipes require very specific kinds of alcoholic beverages, but those alcoholic beverages are (a) expensive and (b) only really useful in these specific recipes. I don’t want to fill my cupboards with niche brandy and liqueur when I could just fill it with different extracts and do an estimated guess of what the conversion would be. So that’s what I did. Instead of two teaspoons of almond liqueur, I did one teaspoon of almond extract. (Spoiler alert: it worked!)
Then I folded.
With the filling ready, I tried to deal with the mess of my pie crust.
If I had to fit all of the filling, along with a healthy layer of jam, into the small flan tin filled to the brim with puff pastry, I was going to make a mess of my oven.
So I thought I could try to squish it down a bit.
And that did not work.
So then I thought I could maybe transfer it to the large flan tin and hope for the best.
That kind of worked, but it didn’t completely fit all the way to the bottom, so this tart may have a lopsided base.
Not much I could do about that, though!
Mary and Paul wanted me to use Morello cherry preserve or jam, but as I stood in the same grocery store that didn’t have my usual puff pastry, I stared at a selection of jams with no cherry in sight.
Eventually, though, I spotted one jar sitting between strawberry and raspberry and figured it would be good enough. No need to go fancy with Morello cherries when regular cherry is the only thing available.
Then I poured in the filling and started to get worried.
But there was no turning back.
With a healthy sprinkling of flaked almonds, I put this thing on the baking sheet I accidentally preheated (anyone else dry their baking sheets in the oven and forget about them?) and hoped for the best!
Those eagle-eyed readers of mine may also notice a few extra treats popped into the oven at the same time. I used the excess puff pastry to make a couple of cheese puffs and a couple of chocolate puffs, because why not, eh?
*a little over 40 minutes later*
I wasn’t sure what this was supposed to look like when it was done. Plus, it wasn’t going to look perfect because of the mess with the flan tins, so I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad that I ended up with this:
I also had no idea if that was “golden brown” but it was just firm in the centre (after I kept it in for a few minutes longer than the required 40 minutes), so I’m assuming it’s done?
Also I have no idea how to tell the doneness of frangipane.
I also wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to leave it misshapen in the tin to cool completely.
But I did leave it in the tin and then I realized, about half an hour later, that I had made another mistake.
Mary and Paul wanted me to warm up apricot jam and, with the tart still warm, brush the warm jam onto the top to give it a thin, shiny glaze and then let it cool for only 15 minutes before unmoulding it.
So instead I had to warm up the apricot jam and also warm up the tart so that the jam would melt more on the tart than if I were to have applied it cold. It didn’t totally work.
Mary and Paul said it would sink slightly, but they said nothing about the seismic fault lines that I ended up with. Also the apricot jam should’ve been sieved.
Also, if I were to follow this recipe exactly, I was supposed to unmould the tin by setting it on a can of food. I set it on a bowl.
Mistakes all over the place!
The only good news (other than the fact that the bite I took of overhanging cooked frangipane was edible, if not a little tasty) is that I found a cute storage option for my baking beads:
Small wins, guys.
*the next day*
When it was time to serve it to coworkers, all I could do was hope! I hoped it would be edible. I hoped it’d good. After all, I had no idea what frangipane even tasted like or what it should taste like.
Now, in the past when I’ve watched GBBO and they’ve talked about frangipane, I always assumed it was a super complicated specialty item that everyone, but myself, knew about.
I had never heard of frangipane before the contestants in the tent started talking about it and even after watching them use it, I could not tell you what it was.
Even now that I’ve made it, I’m not sure I could explain it to you.
“It’s like a marzipan but squishier but kind of soft but cakey but not.”
So I really had no idea what to expect. Plus, this Bakewell was rife with issues from incorrect flan tin size to unsieved apricot jam to an overly puffed crust.
But guys, it was delicious.
I had two slices. I never take two slices. People told me it was their new favourite. I got approval from both French and German natives (they know quality baked goods) and I made a note in my bakebook to “make this frangipane always.”
I want to try to make a frangipane pear galette. Or some sort of apple frangipane upside-down cake. Or, at the very least, try this bake again with fewer mistakes.
I’m still thinking about this filling and it’s several days later.
So if you ever get a chance to make frangipane, I have two things to say:
- Say the word “frangipane” out loud as often as possible. It’s super fun to say.
- Make it and prepare to fall in love with it.