Monday, 11 July 2011

Cherry Frangipane Tart

Cherry Frangipane Tart

The Kent-grown cherries are tasting fantastic this year, despite the fact weather conditions have been challenging, and damaging to the crop - basically not enough rain followed by far too much.  The delicious yellow and red Rainier variety available at the moment are slightly firmer and less fleshy than the black ones and are perfect for eating just as they are.  Having bought a kilo of Rainier's and one of black cherries from the Dallaway's stall on Borough Market on Saturday, I wandered up to Bermondsey to do the rest of my shopping.

I was full of thoughts of turning some of the black cherries into the perfect cherry frangipane tart as I paused for a reviving espresso at Monmouth's roastery before stocking up on my staples of bread, cheeses and prosciutto.  The Bermondsey Trail certainly seems a lot busier of late but it's a far more relaxing way to shop than fighting your way around Borough Market.  Finishing up at Gergovie Wines bar on Maltby Street, I enoyed a glass of Gamay from the Auvergne and shared a plate of perfect baked ham and a dish of silky caponata.  And then I spotted Kit's cherry tart.  I was determined to resist.  Then my neighour ordered a slice, eating it in that quiet way that tells you something is good, waiting until the last bite to declare it so.  I was undone.  I had to have it.  The pastry was a wafer-thin layer of finest shortcrust.  The almond frangipane was soft and yielding and another ounce of sugar would have tipped it over into too-sweet.  It could have been a bit more generous on the cherries, but it was amazingly good.   

I left feeling not quite so confident about my own plans, but here's my recipe.  It's not as good as Kit's but if you can't get over to Maltby Street, you might enjoy this.  You'll see from the photograph that I used a slightly smaller and deeper tart tin, but a 22cm shallow one is best for this.

Cherry Frangipane Tart
(22cm shallow tart tin)

Sweet Shortcrust pastry:
110g (4oz) soft butter
55g (2oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons beaten egg
170g (6oz) soft plain flour
pinch  of salt

125g softened butter
125g ground almonds
125g caster sugar
2 eggs plus egg leftover from the pastry making

250g stoned cherries

For the pastry, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then gradually add the flour and salt, mixing to a smooth paste.  Cover and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  (This makes a very fragile, buttery pastry which is best if handled as little as possible).

Lightly butter a 22cm shallow loose-bottomed tart tin.  Press pieces of the pastry into the tin to form a thin layer - you will probably have more pastry than you need, the important thing is to apply it thinly.  Push a rolling pin over the top of the tart tin to leave a clean edge.  Prick the base with a fork and place in the fridge for another 30 minutes (this helps to reduce shrinkage in baking).  Heat the oven to 190C and bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes.  Remove the baking beans and if the base is not cooked, return the tin to the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Beat the very soft butter and mix in the ground almonds and caser sugar.  Gradually mix in the eggs well.  Add the stoned cherries to the tart and spread the frangipane cream over them.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Cool, remove from the tin and serve the tart at room temperature, perhaps with a dollop of creme fraiche.