Quince Frangipane Burnt Butter Tart
Butter; What is it that makes it so special? What is the very first thing that pops into your mind at the mention of it? Is it a golden, crispy-skinned roast chicken that has been smeared in the stuff? Perhaps it’s the sound of the knife, scratching over the surface of toasted sourdough, crumbs flying here, there and everywhere all over the kitchen bench as you try to spread fridge-cold butter right to the crusty edges.
When I think of butter I often think of baking. Rubbing cold cubes of butter into flour for the first stages of pastry making. Creaming it with sugar until its pale and fluffy. And melting it on the stove until it has reached that gorgeous nut-brown stage, sending a blanket of caramel-like aromas throughout the kitchen.
The latter takes me back to a day. One that I will never forget. We used to make a burnt butter tart at the café, which quite often would very quickly disappear from the counter before lunch time arrived. It would be topped with seasonal fruits, spices and even the scattering of dark chocolate and coconut at times. I always loved coming up with different flavour combinations as it could withstand just about anything, making it a very good vessel to become experimental with.
This particular day saw us have a rush of orders come in all at the one time. I had just put the pot with the butter in it on to the stove to “burn” it before being whisked from the kitchen to help out the front. Stuck out there a little longer than I had imagined I turned to face a customer who appeared to have a look of concern on her face, “your kitchen is on fire!” My eyes darted over to the kitchen and there flying high above the pot on the stove were some very angry looking flames! Quickly opening the door, I had lost all memory of where the fire blanket was (It was of course right where it always was) and for a moment I was frozen. My dad came in, grabbed one of the lids off the stock pots and threw it over the top of the flames. The butter was indeed burnt, burnt to oblivion and the pot wasn’t in very good shape either, it was never quite the same after that. I however, continued on with “burning” butter, always erring on the side of caution and never leaving it out of my sight. Lesson learnt!
I had been playing around with an idea that had been swirling in my mind for a while now, jotting down notes in my baking journal as they appeared. It was a tart that I wanted to create, using poached quince of course, I just can’t seem to get enough of them at the moment. My first trial run was ok, but it was lacking that something special. It was during a conversation with the ever so lovely, Sally Frawley @sallyfrawley during a day of photographing and styling together that the “something special” was unearthed…. Quince butter. A glorious smooth paste of pureed poached quince poured into a baking dish and cooked until it reaches an even more intense colour and flavour. I could happily have eaten it just like that, perhaps on a slice or two of freshly baked sourdough with a scattering of creamy goats’ cheese…
I had an idea, however, and I was determined on bringing it to life. And so, this quince and frangipane tart with a burnt butter crust was created, with a very last-minute sprinkling of coarsely crushed almonds added on top. It was lovely. So much so that I am sharing it with you in the hope that you too may find a moment or two to have a couple of hours to yourself in the kitchen, rolling, stirring and sprinkling. Just remember to always keep a watchful eye on that burning butter!
Quince frangipane burnt butter tart
Makes 1 23cm tart
125g unsalted butter
70g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp cold water
In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter and cook until it has reached that lovely nut-brown colour, but be careful you don’t take it too far! Pour into a small bowl, scraping out those burnt bits on the bottom too and then place into the fridge to harden.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the polenta, sugar and salt and then take your butter from the fridge and using a spoon, scoop it out into the bowl. Now you need to rub the butter and flour mix in between your fingertips until there are no longer large chunks of butter left. Add the egg and stir together with your fingertips, add in the water a little at a time until it forms into a neat ball of dough.
Flatten it out slightly and press any cracks that have formed back together, wrap in cling wrap and then pop into the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
When ready to roll out take out of the fridge 30 minutes before hand, depending on how hot or cold your kitchen is you may need to wait longer or get on with rolling soon after you have taken it from the fridge.
On a lightly floured bench, roll out until it is slightly larger than the tin you will be using. Roll it up onto the rolling pin and then drape over your tin and very carefully ease it in, trimming a little of the excess pastry away. (keep this handy though) Pop into the fridge again for another 30 minutes.
For the Quince butter….
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
You will need to have poached quinces on hand for this, I do have a recipe for this together with the quince and apple tart in the recipe before this one.
You will need 500g of poached quince, blitzed in a food processor until lovely and smooth and then poured into a baking dish lined with baking paper. Now you can pop this into the oven for an hour, stirring halfway through. Once it’s done, set aside to cool. You can do this a few days beforehand if you like and keep it in the fridge.
Now to blind bake your pastry. Increase the oven to 200 degrees and either using baking paper or foil to line the pastry case you will then need to fill this with pie weights or rice or dried beans. Place the tart tin onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and place on the bottom shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, then take it out and lift the paper very carefully just to take a peek to see if you need to patch any cracks or holes in your pastry with the pastry offcuts. Once this has been done, pop it back into the oven, on the middle shelf for a further 10 minutes and then remove from the oven and remove the baking paper and weights. Allow to cool.
To make the Frangipane…
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Finely grated zest of an orange
2 eggs, lightly whisked
100g almond meal
100g almonds, coarsely crushed in a food processor or in a zip lock back and bash with a rolling pin
Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and zest together until creamy and smooth, then gradually add the egg and beat until combined, you may need to scrape down the side of your bowl and then continue to beat. Fold in the almond meal until everything is combined.
Now to fill your tart…
Reduce the oven back to 180degrees.
Using a palette knife or the back of a spoon spread the quince butter evenly over the base then do the same with the frangipane and then finally scatter over the crushed almonds and smooth it all out evenly.
Place the tart into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden and just firm to the touch when lightly pressed with your fingertip in the centre.
If you find that the edges of the tart are browning a little too much, simply create a collar, of sorts, with some pieces of foil and then continue to bake.
Once she’s done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before placing onto a lovely platter and serving with a big dollop of thick Greek yoghurt, crème fraiche or vanilla bean ice cream.
I hope you enjoy, and I would love to see your creation of this if you do get the chance to have that quiet moment in the kitchen. Don’t forget to tag @amy_minichiello_ if you do,