The Aga Tarts

Posted on August 2, 2013

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You know how this works by now: I tell you a meandering tale by way of recipe foreplay then insert a money shot to keep your interest.

Today though…because my final images are being saved for the Autumn edition of Aga Living Magazine you will have to make do with one of my ‘practice tarts’ that I made at home the week before shoot day.

Frangipane tart

The brief was to create a three course autumnal meal to be cooked at photographed on location in Devon. The article is ‘I love my Aga’ and features Mary King, Olympic Equestrian, at her beautiful home on the South coast. I was to provide the recipes, share the cooking tasks, style and shoot the food whilst Tim James covered the main shots of the family. I don’t want to publish too many spoilers but suffice to say there was lots of recipe planning, prop loans, food ordering and other preparatory work plus a drive down from Derbyshire on the sunniest day of the year so far.

It’s quite a novelty for a girl like me from the Midlands to get to work by the seaside so I had to make a little diversion to Sidmouth seafront en route.  From that moment on it was one of the busiest days I’ve ever had and included challenges such as cooking with an Aga for the first time, dealing with strange substitutions from Waitrose online, broken crockery and making sure that the fillet of beef was cooked to perfection. This was something I was determined to get right because Mary’s husband David provided the beef from his own herd of cattle.

It really was an enjoyable process and I am so looking forward to seeing the results. It’s fascinating to see how much is involved with this type of shoot with a whole production team hard at work throughout the day. We managed to fit in an impromptu bread stick making session with Mary’s son and daughter which added a nice extra bit of interaction for Tim to shoot for the feature.

I must thank Matt Inwood from Absolute Press for suggesting me,  Laura and Tim from Mabel Gray for getting me involved, Helen Stiles and Archant for being so supportive and helpful and Dawn Roads for being just amazing with the Aga. I am itching to do more work like this, I loved it.

Here are a few of my Instagrams and outtakes from the day.

aga montage

The recipes, that will all be published in the magazine include polenta breadsticks, twice cooked potatoes with spicy and cool sauces, herb coated fillet steak with roasted vegetables and bulgar wheat salad followed by the honeyed plum and cherry frangipane tarts that I will share with you now….not least because I have just made them again to take to a family gathering tomorrow, so it’s fresh in my mind and tested to the limit.

When I suggested this family of tarts I had a clear vision that I wanted there to be a large one for slicing surrounded by a myriad of little baby ones. I was really pleased with them, especially with how well the Silverwood tins worked with the Aga baking oven and gave a crisp pastry with no blind baking. (I am always afeared of not blind baking)

Oh, I sometimes put a blob of jam in the base of the teeny tarts as they work well as a slightly sweeter version for kids or with a coffee the next day.

You may have seen versions on this tarty theme before on things{we}make before, but here I tie them all up into this ultimate, new improved recipe:

Honeyed Plum and Cherry Frangipane Tarts

Pastry

  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 100g SR Flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g butter & good pinch of salt
  • 50g lard
  • 1 egg & dash of milk

Mix the flours and icing sugar then rub in the fat. I use the Magimix for this.

Add most of the milk/egg mixture and stir until it starts to come together, add more if needed. Pull the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.

Roll out so it’s slightly thicker than a pound coin. It is a very short pastry, so just ‘patch in’ if it tears.

Cut and place oversized pastry circles in a non-stick bun (fairy cake) tin. Use other half for a 23cm buttered floured (Silverwood) tart tin. Chill for 20 minutes whilst you make the frangipane.

Filling

  • 120g Butter, softened
  • 60g runny honey (plus extra)
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 120g ground almonds (Plus)
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla (plus an optional dash of almond extract)
  • 2 eggs & good pinch of salt
  • A spoonful of two of double cream and some jam (optional)
  • Small Ripe Plums/Cherries halved and pitted

Whisk the soft butter and sugar until pale – whisk in honey, vanilla, almond extract (optional), ground almonds, and the egg  until smooth. Stir in the flour gently. Add more flour or some cream if needed to create a thick spoonable batter.

8-10 Mini tarts: put half a teaspoon of jam in the base if you want some sweeter little tarts for children. Add a small teaspoonful of the frangipane into each tart case, top with half a plum or 3 halved cherries – cut side up. Drizzle the fruit with clear honey. Make sure you under fill all tarts, the batter will rise.

Bake for 20 minutes at 175 degrees C until golden.

Large Tart: spoon the frangipane in, smooth off and top with plums/cherries – cut side up. Drizzle the fruit with a little honey.

Bake 30-35 min at 175 degrees until set in the centre.

When they come out of the oven glaze the tart with any melted honey left in the dimple of the plums by spooning it back over the top with a teaspoon or drizzle on a little more.

Serve with thick cream or ice cream.

cherry tart

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