There is no better way to spend a rainy, cold day than in the kitchen baking. I always enjoy being in the kitchen with Pamela Clark, Food Director of the Test Kitchen at The Australian Women’s Weekly. Pamela is wonderfully generous with her knowledge and expertise and I always come away with a head swirling with excellent tips and tricks to try at home. All recipes in this post can be sourced in The Australian Women’s Weekly Old-Fashioned Favourites.
Today, we are tackling sweet, glossy pear frangipane tart. This is fantastic news for those who are a little reluctant to make their own short crust pastry. Pamela shows us how to make the pastry both by hand and in the food processor, enabling us to see the difference. The processor gives a smoother and quicker pastry but I prefer the hands-on method, being a tactile person. The choice, however, is yours. Either way works equally well.
“Short Crust Pastry (basic pie dough) is the popular type used for savoury and sweet dishes, such as pastry cases and pies. Short pastries have a medium to high proportion of fat to flour and a low moisture content. They are handled lightly and quickly, with the minimum of rolling, to give a crumbly – or short – texture when baked. This type of pastry does not rise during baking.” ~ New Concise Larousse Gastronomique.
Almond Pear Flan
1 1/4 cups (185g) plain flour
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
2 egg yolks
3 firm ripe medium pears (690g), peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed and strained
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1 cup (120g) almond meal
1 tablespoon plain flour
1. Blend or process flour, butter, sugar and egg yolks until just combined. Knead on floured surface until smooth, cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make almond filling.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius/160 degrees Celcius fan-forced. Grease 23cm-round loose-based flan tin.
4. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper; press dough evenly into base and side of tin. Spread filling into pastry case; arrange pears over filling. Bake for about 45 minutes. Brush flan with jam.
Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until just combined. Add eggs, one at a time; fold in meal and flour.
Pears can be replaced with apples, peaches, plums, apricots or blueberries.
How to keep
Flan can be stored in an airtight container for up to two (2) days.
Preparation time: 30 minutes (plus refrigeration time)
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Our second task for the day is to create basic scones. Again, Pamela effectively demonstrates the appropriate hand movements to gently turn the dough in a circle whilst kneading it with the thumb part of the palm. This took a little practice but with Pamela’s expert guidance, all students passed the test.
“Scone (Biscuit) A small round cake made of raised dough, which may be sweet or savoury. Originating in Scotland, it is soft and light and has a brown crust. Scones are eaten at breakfast or for tea, usually served hot, split in half and buttered. Traditionally cooked on a griddle (or girdle), a thick flat iron with a handle, placed on the fire or on top of the stove, they are now more often baked.” ~ New Concise Larousse Gastronomique
4 cups (600g) self-raising flour
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
3/4 cup (180ml) water, approximately
1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius/200 degrees Celcius fan-forced. Grease 20cm x 30cm lamington pan.
2. Sift flour and sugar into a large bowl; rub in butter with fingertips.
3. Make a well in the centre of flour mixture, add milk and almost all water. Use knife to “cut” the milk and water through the flour mixture, mixing into a soft, sticky dough. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth.
4. Press dough out to 2cm thickness. Dip 4.5cm round cutter in flour; cut as many rounds as you can from the dough. Place scones side by side, just touching, in pan.
5. Gently knead scraps of dough together; repeat pressing and cutting of dough, place in same pan. Brush tops with a little extra milk; bake for about 15 minutes or until scones are just browned and sound hollow when tapped firmly on the top with fingers.
How to keep
Scones are best made and eaten on the same day. Or, freeze for up to three (3) months. Thaw in oven, wrapped in foil.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
If, for some reason your dough is not quite up to scratch or you have left-over, you can make sweet or savoury tea buns or scrolls. We gathered up everyone’s left-over dough, re-rolled it out into a rectangle, then sprinkled a generous amount of brown sugar in a line across the rectangle and rolled it up into a long sausage. Slice into discs and place in a round cake tin. Brush with a little milk. Bake until brown.
Our final treat for today – Creme Caramel. Pamela demonstrates how to make this classic dessert with ease, making us all want to go home and make our own.
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 3/4 cups (430ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar, extra
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celcius/140 degrees Celcius fan-forced.
2. Combine sugar and water in medium frying pan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil; boil, uncovered, without stirring, until mixture is a deep caramel in colour. Remove from the heat; allow bubbles to subside. Pour toffee into a deep 20cm-round cake pan.
3. Combine cream and milk in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Whisk eggs, extract and extra sugar in large bowl; whisking constantly, pour hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Strain mixture into cake pan.
4. Place pan in medium baking dish; add enough boiling water to come half way up side of pan. Bake, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until firm. Remove custard from baking dish, cover; refrigerate overnight.
5. Gently ease creme caramel from side of pan; invert onto deep-sided serving plate.
Preparation time: 20 minutes (plus refrigeration time)
Cooking time: 40 minutes
I hope you try these classic treats at home. They are certainly not as frightening as they first might seem and their taste is well worth the effort. Why not show off your expertise in the kitchen by making these for your friends and family. Enjoy!