Three Things; Monday Lunch – Jam and Frangipane Tart

Jam and Frangipane Tart recipe

Today’s recipe is an autumnal treat that is show off-y enough to take with you when invited to someone else’s house and yet yummy enough to scoff as a family pudding.

Autumn fruits for jam making

I am including recipes here for you to make the lot from scratch but there are several shortcuts if you are pressed for time. I would, however, suggest that you have a go as the recipes are quite simple and nothing beats the smuggery of making your own jam.

For the jam:
This recipe is proportionate so it doesn’t matter how much fruit you can forage, you will just end up with more or less jam.

One quantity of blackberries
Half a quantity of pear
Half quantity of cooking apples
Two quantities of sugar I.e the same amount of total fruit and sugar
A big wide pan
A wooden spoon
Two saucers put in the freezer
Jam jars with lids

To make the Frangipane Tart…

For the sweet Pastry

225g plain flour
110g sugar
110g butter
One egg
One to two table spoons of cold water

For the Frangipane
125g butter
125g sugar
Two eggs
125g ground almonds
1 tablespoon of plain flour

Optional icing
Icing sugar and cold water

Apple Blackberry and Pear Jam

To make jam…

I make jam without a recipe and certainly without any special tools and certainly nothing as specialised as a jam thermometer. but in order to be a fearless jam maker you need to know about jam club. The first rule of jam club is do not talk about jam club. Never say to your family and friends that you are about to make jam, you will feel under immense pressure and fluff it entirely. Any announcement should be along the lines of “I’m just popping off to make something delicious with these blackberries”. That way when your jam doesn’t set, you can claim that you meant to make a delicious syrup for ice cream all along. Or if your jam solidifies totally, you can carve it into delicious little cubes and pretend that you were making homemade jelly sweets.

But if you follow this simple recipe you should have perfect jammy jam, so here goes.

Firstly pop two plates or saucers into the freezer, this will make you feel especially chef-y later on.

Peel and chop your apples and pears and slice into tiny pieces – smaller than your smallest blackberry as you don’t necessarily want massive chunks on your toast.

Pop your fruit and sugar into your wide pan and set it on a low heat. It must be on a low heat as you want the fruit to release juices so that the sugar dissolves in the hot juice. If the heat is too high then the sugar will melt and stick to the bottom of your pan and probably burn in a burny stinky mess, so gently does it.

You should stir the mixture every so often to check how it is going. At the start you will feel and hear the crunchy sugar when you stir the pan but eventually the sugar will be dissolved and it will start to heat up.

At this point you can turn the heat up and watch like a hawk for a ‘rolling boil’ this is when the pan is boiling and bubbly all over and the bubbles aren’t calmed down when you stir it. Once you have this magic rolling boil you need to look at your watch or set a timer.

After three minutes of the rolling boil take the pan off the heat and get one of your pre chilled saucers from the freezer dribble a bit of the molten jam into a blob on your cold saucer. Leave it for a moment to cool and then push the edge of the blob towards the centre with your finger. If the surface of the jam wrinkles then it is ready. If no wrinkles appear then pop the jam pan back on the heat and do another minute of rolling boil and repeat the wrinkle test. You repeat the whole wrinkle test and minute rolling boil cycle until you have done five minutes of rolling boil altogether then after that you will need to do wrinkle tests every 30 seconds just to be on the safe side.

N.B. you can buy special sugar called jam sugar or preserving sugar, this has setting agents e.g. Pectin added and will ensure perfect results every time but the chances are you will need a special trip to the big supermarket to get some. I used everyday white table sugar for this jam today.

Once your jam passes the wrinkle test you can decant it into your jam jars. These should be sterilised either by running through a dishwasher and using straight away or by washing, rinsing and then placing in an oven for about half and hour on its lowest setting. Add the lids when the jam is till roasting hot and then the little seals will pul down as the jam cools and you will get that satisfying pock when you de-lid a fresh jar which signals it is still good to eat.

If you don’t have jam jars or only want to make a small amount of jam you can leave it to cool in the pan and then pop it into what ever Tupperware or similar container you have. In this case you will need to keep it in the fridge and eat it within a week or two as it won’t be sterile.

So there you have it, jam!

If that all sounds like hard work then you can buy jam in jars at the supermarket and proceed to the step below.

Autumn Jam Frangipane Tart

To make the Frangipane tart…

This can be made in a loose base flan tin but then you have the heart wrenching moment when you have to turn it out. If you are making this to take to a friends house, why not make it in a pie dish on the grounds that it will be safer in transit and then it is cut and served from the pie dish, no turning out issues.

Firstly make the sweet pastry

Put the flour into a bowl and grate the fridge cool butter into it. I find this is easier then to rub into the flour rather than trying to deal with big chunks of butter.

Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles damp sand. The idea here is to make sure the butter is combined with the flour but not melted into it.

Once the butter is combined you can make a little dip in the centre and crack the egg into it. Use a knife to swirl the egg around in the flour mixture to begin to combine it without getting your hands too sticky. You will need to get your hands in the mixture to finish it off.

I suggest adding about three quarters of a tablespoon of cold water to the mixture at this point and trying to squash it into a sort of ball. If it is impossible add another splash of water. The idea here is to use the bare minimum of water so that the mixture is only just coming together and still has a slight crumbly texture.

Once you have a sort of pastry lump, pop to into your pie dish and place in the fridge for a while whilst you prepare the Frangipane.

If that sounds like too much hard work as well then when you are buying jam from the supermarket you can get some ready roll short crust pastry.

To make the Frangipane…

Cream together the butter and sugar, you can blast the butter for 30 seconds in the microwave to soften it as long as you don’t tell any real chefs.

Crack in each egg, one at a time and beat until it is all combined.

Gently fold in the almonds and flour.

You can use this immediately or keep it in the fridge until later if appropriate.

Assembling the pudding…

Pre heat your oven to 375F, 190C or gas mark 5

Get the pie dish and pastry out of the fridge and rather than rolling it out just flatten and squash the pastry into the base and up the sides of the dish. This is much less hassle and gives a wonderful rustic finish. You can roll it out and trim it etc if you like but you should flour the worktop well so the pastry doesn’t stick. If you are using ready made pastry you will have to roll it out.

Dollop a very generous portion of the jam into the base of the tart, you can spread it about with the base of the spoon. Remember to lick the spoon when you are finished.

Carefully dot the Frangipane mixture on top of the jam making sure you spread it pretty evenly over the surface. The mixture will expand and cover any gaps so don’t panic too much. I find it is easier to put little spoonfuls that then merge together rather than put one dollop into the centre and try and spread it out.

Place it in the oven for about 45-50 minutes until the centre of the Frangipane is golden brown and domed nicely with no dip in the centre.

When it is done you can let it cool in the dish and once cool you can add the optional icing to give it a bakewell tart kind of a vibe.

I made up the icing sugar with a little water and piped it in messy swirls and criss crosses for an air of nonchalance. If you are hand making this from scratch it lends an ‘Oh this? I just threw it together’ feel which makes the whole thing less try-hard. Of course perfect Paisley or an intricate lace pattern in icing would be simply stunning.

If you really want to push the boat out and impress your hosts then you can arrive not only with a splendid homemade tart to share but a small jar of jam as a gift for them to keep.

Please do have a go at jam making and let us know how you get on.