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.
I found a bakewell tart recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks some time ago (I remembered I wanted to bake it but something baffled my plans). Reading through a newly bought recipe/lokal food history-book Culinaria Deutschland I additionally found a verly local kind of bakewell tarte, invented by the bakers of Leipzig. Those little tartelettes are called "Leipziger Lerchen" ("Leipzig larks"). Larks were hunted in thousands in the 17th century, spiked with spices, wrapped into bacon and afterwards fried. They were even sent to Spain or Russia. In 1876 environmental activists obtained a hunting ban for the birds. The tartelettes were invented and thought as substitutes for the real larks, the two dought stripes crossed on top shall symbolise the cord the lark was tied up with.
I was really astonished by this story because it meant there was also a German side of bakewell tart history; and a very local too. Leipzig is a town about 50 km away from my place - if some of you remember 'Faust' from Goethe, the play took place there. Therefore I decided to make "Leipziger Lerchen" too. The result didn't quite look like in the book, but I was proud anyway. I searched the internet for more recipes and found out that there are also lots of varieties - some use strawberry or apricot jam, others no jam at all (like in the book).
makes one 23cm or twelve Tartelettes (if you use muffin moulds) & one small loaf pan
- One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
- Bench flour
- 250ml jam or curd (I used my newly made strawberry-lime-jam), warmed for
- One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
- One handful blanched, flaked almonds
Sweet shortcrust pastry
[Modifications for "Leipziger Lerchen"]
- 225g  all purpose flour
- 30g  sugar
- ½  tsp salt
- 110g  unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
- 2 [one egg] egg yolks
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
- 1-2 Tbsp cold water [1 Tbsp Cognac]
(If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract.)
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
I have tried lots of shortcrust pastry recipes before, but this one was the perfect one! Not too sticky or didn't crumble or fell apart in pieces.
[Modifications for "Leipziger Lerchen"]
- 125g  unsalted butter, softened
- 125g  icing sugar
- 3 [one egg yolk, three egg whites] eggs
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
- 125g  ground almonds
- 30g  all purpose flour
- [1 Tbsp corn starch]
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of te bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don't panic . Really. It'll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.
Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4") thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C. Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart.
Modifications for "Leipziger Lerchen": No jam, just the frangipane, and they are made in special moulds similar to muffin moulds. Keep some of the (rolled out) dough and cut it into (about 1 cm wide) thin stripes and cover the tartelettes with two crossed stripes.
Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.