Inspired by my Paris trip, I set out to create a simple but very fine tart. A “tarte fine” has a flaky pastry base and can be topped with pretty much any firm fruit (although I wouldn’t go for grapes, per se). Some pastry chefs partner the fruit with crême patissière for extra creaminess. Because I felt really eager to make these, I chose an apple topping - for some reason, supermarkets only sell nectarines, peaches and pears in their stone-hard, unripe form. That means that I would have to wait a week, if not longer, for them to ripen. No such patience here.. Apples it is!
Now you can be very creative with this recipe. Instead of vanilla, you could flavor with cinnamon. Or you could go for another fruit altogether, if using pitted fruits, remove pit and cut into wedges to go on top of the tart (sliced side face up). Great for when you have an abundance of fruit in your garden in the summer - I never know where I should leave all of it. Experiment, by all means!
1. For the pastry, rub the salt into the flour until evenly distributed. Add the diced butter, coat the butter in the flour mixture. Add 100 ml of ice cold water, use a fork or spatula to bring the dough together. Add more water if necessary (1 tablespoon at a time). The dough should be firm, and the chunks of butter should still be clearly visible (see image below). Shape dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
2. Once chilled, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the ball into a rectangle, then roll out into one direction, until you have a 20x50cm rectangle. If the dough starts sticking to the surface, flour extra. The dough should have a marbled effect (see picture below). Keep the edges of the rectangle straight. Fold the top third down the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn, re-flour your working surface and roll and fold again as before. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. While the dough is resting in the fridge, core your apples, quarter and slice them into thin wedges. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning if you’re making these ahead.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
5. Once chilled, roll the pastry out into a 35x35cm square. Cut out 9 circles using your fluted cutter. You can stack the remaining pastry, flatten it and return to the fridge to use at another moment (don’t roll into a ball or you will lose the layers).
6. Place the pastry circles on the lined baking sheet and arrange the apple slices evenly on top. Sprinkle the vanilla sugar on the apples. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
7. Heat the apricot jam with one tablespoon of water in a small, heavy botttomed pan on low heat. Once jam has become more liquid, pass through a sieve to filter the chunks out.
8. Once pastries have baked, place them on a wire rack and brush with the apricot jam while still warm. Leave to cool, or eat while still warm. Great with some vanilla ice cream!
These crunchy Dutch mini biscuits are traditionally eaten at Saint Nicholas’ Eve’ and the month leading up to it.
150 gr all-purpose flour 75gr dark brown sugar 60 gr unsalted butter, diced approx. 3 tbsp milk 1 tbsp speculaas spice blend 1 tsp baking powder pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/Gas 3 and grease a baking tray.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix these together so they are distributed evenly.
3. Add the butter and rub it into the dry mixture with your hands until you get a sand-like consistency.
4. Add the milk and knead until the dough has come away from the bowl.
5. Roll the dough into little marble sized balls between your hands and place them on the baking tray, leaving some space between each ball. Bake the pepernoten in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
GBBO Challenge Final Week: Chetna’s Masala Chai Baklava
Well, I’m having a “crackin’” day today: I was featured with no less than three recipes/pictures on the ELLE Food Netherlands website!! I can tell you, when I saw traffic coming from that site, my heart skipped a beat. To me, this is a pretty big deal! I danced around the room a bit, hypered, highfived my mom and took a screenshot before it will eventually come down from the FRONTPAGE! Simply over the moon. The recipes featured are Gevulde Koeken, Southern Dutch Apple Pie and Broccoli and Gouda Cheese Tart. Alright, forgive this slight happy-rant, but I couldn’t help but share this with you. Now on to what this post should actually be about: the crispy, sugary, sticky yumminess that is baklava.
For my last Bake Off Challenge post, I decided I’d pay hommage to Chetna. The “Queen of Flavors” exited in the semi-final, which I thought was ridiculous, seeing as she had baked such beautiful things before. I’m not saying Nancy isn’t great, but looking at the whole series, I think Chetna might have been better.
Josh Widdicombe might be right in that “Chetna is a genious”. The flavors of this baklava are amazing! Cashew, almond and cardamom filling and a chai tea flavored syrup: what more do you want? And I want to say that Mary was wrong (there I said it) that it didn’t have those traditional baklava layers. Biting into one of these was a feast of layers of filo pastry and crispy nut filling, with a nice sticky finish. The syrup was amazing I thought, although when I let my mom taste it, she said “oh! you made cough syrup!” - ehm no I didn’t mom! But thanks anyway..
I have now developed a firm disliking for storebought filo pastry though. It was just way too dry and came out of the package torn. I had to make some patches (which you’ll see in the pictures) to stop the filling from burning. I think it might actually have been better to make my own, but I understand that that’s not really appealing to everyone. I’d suggest you buy good quality filo pastry, from the fridge instead of the freezer if that’s available where you are. It’s just so fiddly to work with! Get a good dose of patience before you start, is all I’m saying ;) I used a couple of substitutions as ingredients go, I’ve noted those after the ingredients Chetna used.
As for predictions on tonight’s GBBO winner: it must and should be Richard. You can not win star baker 5 (!) times and NOT win! That would be just ridiculous right? Should he not win, my second favorite is Luís. He has delivered consistently beautiful bakes, and he’s so precise and organized. I thought Nancy would have been better in the semi final as its theme was patisserie, but she let me down a little. Anyway: we’ll see tonight, I’m very excited to see what this talented bunch will bake!
Recipe Chetna’s Masala Chai Baklava
Source: BBC Tools: pastry brush, food processor or blender Ingredients Filling:
100 gr toasted flaked almonds 100 gr cashew nuts ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground Syrup:
300 gr granulated sugar 100 gr clear honey 3 breakfast tea bags (I used Earl Grey) ¼ tsp cardamom seeds (I used ground cardamom) 2½cm fresh root ginger, finely chopped
For the filo:
12 sheets ready-made filo pastry (keep the sheets under a damp tea towel until use)
75 gr unsalted butter, melted
1. For the filling, combine the almonds, cashews and cardamom in a food processor with blade attachment or blender and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
2. To make the syrup, combine the sugar, honey, tea bags, cardamom and ginger with 200ml/7fl oz water in a medium saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes then set aside to cool.
3. When the syrup has reached a safe temperature, sieve the syrup and leave to cool completely in the freezer.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease a baking tray with butter or line it with baking parchment.
5. Brush a sheet of pastry with butter then fold it over. Spread about a tablespoon of the filling mixture over it, leaving a 5mm/¼in border on all sides.
6. Starting at one of the long edges, roll up the filo into a long cylinder shape. Brush generously with butter and roll the cylinder into a tight spiral. Brush with butter again and place on the prepared baking tray. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets of filo and place them next to each other in the baking tray.
7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden-brown.
8. When cooked, spoon half the syrup all over the baklavas. Leave for five minutes and then spoon over the remaining syrup. Let the baklava cool a little, then serve.