"make a cake with rum in it" said a comrade,
"aye" said I.
And so, I did.
A frangipane is much like a sponge, and in fact the ratio of ingredients is exactly the same. The only difference is that instead of flour, you use ground almonds. This gives the tart filling incredible depth, flavour and texture. It is dense, but not rich, and sticky, but not sickly. The shortcrust pastry holds the frangipane in place, the rum provides a reassuring scent, whilst the apple gives a soft, sweet and utterly welcomed intermission to this heavenly tart!
Ingredients for the pastry base
6oz plain flour
3oz butter, room temperature
1 1/2oz of icing sugar
pinch of salt
1 free-range egg
Ingredients for the frangipane filling
2oz golden caster sugar
2oz light muscovado sugar (or other soft brown sugar)
2 free-range eggs
1 tbsp of dark rum
4oz ground almonds
1 large cooking apple
a little lemon juice
knob of butter, melted
golden caster sugar to sprinkle
First, we start with the pastry - the recipe for which I have used before in the pumpkin pie recipe.
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Dice the butter and add to the flour. Rub the flour and butter together, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. It may take a few minutes to get to this stage, but trust me, it will happen. Sieve in the icing sugar and mix with a wooden spoon. in a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the egg and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the egg and bring the mixture together, using your hands, until you form a round dough. Place on a surface a flatten slightly with your hand. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 1-hour - overnight if you are able to.
When ready to make the tart, pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Unwrap the cooled pastry and place on a floured surface. Sprinkle flour onto a rolling pin and roll out the pastry to an even thickness and large enough to fit the base and sides of a 23" fluted loose base tart tin. Once rolled, roll the mixture onto the rolling pin and then place over the tin. Push the pastry into the corners of the tine, lightly using your fingertips. If the pastry falls apart, don't panic - this happens to me all the time - a little too much icing sugar, not enough patience with the cooling process. Just arrange the broken pieces in the tin, no one will know and I won't tell anyone, promise!
Poke the pastry base with a fork a few times and place a layer of grease proof paper over the pastry. Fill the pastry with ceramic balls. If you don't have any of these, you can bake the tart blind, as it is. The ceramic balls help the pastry to bake evenly and stop the sides from falling in, but they are not essential. Consider them a future investment!
Place the pastry base in the oven for 20 minuntes, remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
1,2,3......lets frangipane! In an electric mixer, if you have one, or with a wooden spoon if you don't, cream together the butter and sugars. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with the rum. Don't get too enthusiastic with the rum, if you add to much the mixture will be too wet and won't rise. With the mixer on a slower setting to begin with, add the egg, a little at a time, to the butter and sugar mix. Once started to combine, turn the mixer up to a higher speed to get as much air into the mixture as possible. Whilst it is whizzing, sieve the almonds into a bowl. Turn the mixer to a slower speed, add a tablespoon of the almonds and combine. Then, by hand with a wooden spoon, add the remaining ground almonds, a spoonful at a time, to the mixture, gently folding in to combine between additions.
Pour the fragipane mixture into the pastry base and spread to an even level with a palette knife or spatula. Slice 1 large cooking apple into slices, sprinkle a little lemon juice over it, to stop it going brown, and arrange as you wish on top of the frangipane mixture. Brush a little melted butter over the apple and dust with golden caster sugar.
Place the tart back into the oven, on gas mark 4 for 30-35 minutes until the frangipane is set and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Dust with a little more golden caster sugar and leave to cool completely in the tin before serving with, my preferred accompaniment of greek yogurt.