Sunday, May 1, 2011

Frangipane

I am a big fan of frangipane. I blogged about it in March but feel the need to repeat my love of this versatile filling. It works well with just about any fruit which makes it perfect for use at any time of year. My mom is currently obsessed with figs so last month I made a fig and almond tart. We bought so many figs I've had to spend time preserving them but more on that later. Now, I admit to being a terribly lazy person. I can get all excited about baking but I usually avoid things that require icing and finishing unless I am feeling really strong. I'm good at the cake making part but have usually lost interest by the time it comes to ice the damn thing. The same goes for tarts and quiches. The whole blind baking business puts me off. I mean really, who has time these days to line a tart shell, fill it with rice, spill half the rice when trying to remove it from the shell (thus having to pick out little rice grains that have become embedded in the pastry), and then put it back in the oven with the filling. Its just all too much for me most of the time. This is why frangipane is genius. It bakes at the same time and temperature as the shell which means no blind baking is necessary! Yay! It also means its a really quick and easy dessert to make when you're stressed for time. You can make and freeze both the pastry and the frangipane and then just defrost and use with fruit of your choice. Genius.

This is the frangipane recipe we used at one of the hotel's I worked at. We made it in extremely large amounts (everything you make in hotel's is made in extremely large amounts) and this is a scaled down version. You may see other recipes calling for baking powder and such like. I don't like those recipes. Apart from having more ingredients, the frangipane tends to get overexcited and spill all over the oven. (As a lazy person - see above - I really like to avoid situations of oven cleaning.) This is simple and easy and never gets over excited. You need a tart case lined with sweet pastry and fruit of your choice for laying atop the frangipane. Finickity, perfectionist type people will tell you that you should glaze this tart with apricot glaze. Feel free. On a Friday night, after a long week such things are, to my mind, a waste of time. If you're serving the tart recently out of the oven it'll look shiny anyway. But you can call it.

Frangipane
200g butter, unsalted at room temperature
200g caster sugar
2 and a half eggs
200g almonds
Frangipane recipes usually call for ground almonds that are not toasted. This makes fine frangipane but I recently had toasted almonds to use up and I added them to frangipane. The resulting tart had a much deeper flavour and as such I now make frangipane with slivered almonds that I toast first and then blitz. Again, you can try it both ways and decide for yourself.

Toast the almonds until brown and then blitz until fine in a food processor. If some pieces are still sort of whole its not the end of the world. Cream the butter and the sugar until white white white. (This was an instruction at my first hotel job when I was young, scared and intimidated and I do this now out of fear and consequences. I have no idea what happens if the butter/sugar mixture is slightly yellow. I suspect nothing but am unwilling to try.) Add in the eggs and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally add in the almonds. The mixture is stiff and should be spooned into the raw tart shell and then smoothed with a palette knife. Arrange the fruit on top of the frangipane and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes. The frangipane will rise up amongst the fruit and turn golden brown. A knife inserted into the centre will come out clean. If glazing, do so whilst the tart is still warm. Allow to cool before removing from the tart case and serving. This goes well with mascarpone, ice-cream, or cream. If you don't eat all of it, refrigerate for up to 3 days in a sealed container. I suspect it makes good breakfast too.

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