Regency Moon Cakes

12/12/2013

 
An intriguing message on our Facebook page earlier this year provided the impetus for this recipe.

The communication read:


Dear The Historian and the Chef,
Do you think there would be a Regency moon cake floating around somewhere?
Best wishes,
Moon cake lover


Although fairly cryptic, we assumed the reference was to something resembling the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival moon cakes.  These are cakes so popular that the festival is commonly known as the Mooncake Festival.  Was it possible that, along with their passion for Chinese tea, the Georgians also adopted moon cakes?  Alas, despite Mishka's best efforts, we have been unable to discover any reference to moon cakes in the British Regency period, let alone a contemporary recipe.  So we have devised an anachronistic one of our own.

To give our recipe a period feel, we decided that Mr Darcy and Miss Bennet and their contemporaries would have eaten moon cakes in the style of petit fours or sweetmeats. Consequently, ours are much smaller than the traditional oriental moon cake.  We have also substituted butter for oil and a marzipan filling instead of lotus seed paste.   For a quintessentially English Regency taste, we added gin and rose petals.

Ingredients

Pastry:
200g + plain flour
120g golden syrup
70g unsalted butter

Filling:
100g ground almonds
70g rose petal jam
1 tbl gin or brandy (optional)
1 egg
food colouring (optional)

Glaze:
1 egg

2 tsp golden syrup
4 tsp hot water
icing sugar to dust (optional)

Makes 24 small moon cakes

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Begin by pre-heating your oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Heat the butter and golden syrup briefly - the butter doesn't have to melt, it just needs to be on the verge of doing so - and place them in a large bowl, preferably of your stand mixer.  Sift in the 200g of flour and mix using the paddle attachment.  Once combined, add a little more flour so that it is the right consistency for baking and knead briefly into a roll.  Set aside in the fridge.

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Next, prepare your filling by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl.  If you are concerned about raw egg, heat it in a saucepan.  Add two or three drops of food colouring - we recommend red - if you prefer.

The rose petal jam can be substituted with any delicate fragrant jam, such as rose hip or quince jelly, but if you have access to roses it is easy to make. Simply boil up a couple of handfuls of petals with at least a cup of sugar and a minimal amount of water and add a squeeze of lemon juice after the petals become translucent. You can remove the petals with a slatted spoon (and eat them like lollies) or leave them in if you don't mind a chewy jam.

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Roll out the dough on a floured bench and cut out rounds 7-8 cm in diameter.

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Place a teaspoon of the filling on each round.  We used a mini muffin tin to assist in the process, but this isn't necessary.

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Squeeze the edges of dough together, pushing gently into the tin, before turning out onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Glaze with beaten egg.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  While the moon cakes are baking, mix the golden syrup with hot water.  As soon as you take the cakes out of the oven, brush them with the syrup.
The moon cakes can be served as is or dusted with icing sugar.  If you are feeling particularly creative, they could be topped with marzipan or sugar decorations.  The red berries and green leaves of holly would transform them into a unique Christmas nibble.

If you want to retain the Regency feel, we recommend accompanying them with a Chinese tea, such as Oolong or a Green Tea.  (Remember, Indian tea did not reach England until the 1830s!)  If you happen to have a period cake basket to serve them in, all the better!
 
 
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The French fashion of cheese as a dessert course has existed since the nineteenth century, and many of us would not think of doing anything with Brie other than eating it raw.  Occasionally, you may come across a dish in which Brie is melted as part of the recipe, for example when baked in a brioche, but it is rare to find Brie mixed in as an ingredient in a dessert.  Either way, Chef Dirk "doesn't do Brie", so today's post is going to be heavier on history than culinary expertise.

Brie can trace its history back to Medieval times.  Like wine and beer, cheese-making was an industry dominated by Benedictine and Cistercian monks.  According to Charlemagne's biographer E(g)inhard, the Emperor was so enthusiastic about the cheese of Reuil in Brie that he pronounced it "one of the most marvellous of foods" and requisitioned two crates of it.  Given that in these times both courses had sweet and savoury dishes, it is possible that the tradition of eating cheese as well as dessert at the end of a meal hails from this time.


This recipe is taken from The Forme of Cury of 1390, compiled by the Master Cooks of King Richard II, and is a mildly sweet - it must be remembered that sugar was an expensive luxury - but rich tart.  The recipe asks for "chese ruayn" which all other historians have take to mean a soft English cheese made of "rewain" grass, but given that the recipe is actually called "Tart de Bry" I am more inclined to think that it refers to cheese from Reuil in Brie, that is "Reuil-an".  Regardless of what King Richard's cooks meant, it was supposed to be a Brie tart, so I recommend using Brie (or Camembert) unless, like Chef Dirk, you "don't do Brie".

Ingredients:

shortcrust pastry (frozen is fine, but it should not be sweetened; make it using lard if you want to be authentic)
pinch of saffron
20ml hot water (from kettle)
500g cheese (Brie)
5 egg yolks
75g (raw) caster sugar
pinch ground ginger
pinch salt
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Begin by pre-heating your oven to 190 degrees Celcius and steeping the saffron strands in hot water until it is a deep gold.  Line a flan tin with the pastry and prick the base with a fork.

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Next cut the rind off your cheese, and slice into pieces no larger than two inches. 

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Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and fairly smooth.

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In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale.

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Then add the cheese, followed by the  ginger, salt, and (strained) saffron water.  Pour into the pastry case and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Serve warm or cold but on the same day.

 
 
The French cherish their culinary terms nearly as much as the objects of their culinary passions.  When the Académie Française - who publish the French equivalent of the Oxford Dictionary -called a clafoutis a "fruit flan", the citizens of Limousin saw red and did not desist until it was redefined as a "cake".  Furthermore, these pastry-less "cakes" can only be called clafoutis if they're made with cherries.  Otherwise, they are flaugnardes.

Interestingly, Francatelli's Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes from 1852 has a recipe for a 'Batter and Fruit Pudding' which bears a striking resemblance to a flaugnarde.  No doubt the French would speculate that Francatelli picked up this recipe while training in France.  It is more likely that such a pudding was fairly commonplace in western Europe from medieval times and that it was popularised in the historic Duchy of Aquitaine, with the Limousin region specialising in a cherry version.  The name clafoutis makes its first documented appearance in 1864, and in its 'home' regions it is often called a milliard, suggesting a far longer history.

Of course, Limousin's capital Limoges is best known for its porcelain, so (if you happen to have any) a clafoutis will give you the perfect excuse to show it off.  You could also use this "cake" as a springboard for a discussion of Anglo-French relations (which should transform the dullest of dinner guests into experts on international affairs).  Whether you want to ponder the true origins of this so-called "cake", whether the Black Prince really did massacre thousands in Limoges, or the merits of Renoir versus Whistler, the flaugnard or clafoutis is an excellent accompaniment.

Cherry Flaugnarde
(a.k.a. Clafoutis or Milliard)

There are many practical reasons to prefer a flaugnarde to a flan.  Even though making pastry only takes ten minutes or so, ten minutes matters when you have very young children or have just come home after a long day.  A flan also has the disadvantage of being off-limits for our gluten-free or Coeliac friends.  So we've decided to share with you a super-quick gluten-free clafoutis recipe.

Ingredients:

150g castor sugar
50g custard powder (gluten free)
200ml eggs (4 large)
350ml cream
600-750g jar of pitted cherries (or equivalent)
castor sugar for coating cherries (optional)
icing sugar for dusting

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Begin by pre-heating your oven to 180-200 degrees Celcius and placing a greased oven-proof dish in the oven to warm.  Drain the cherries and (if you prefer it) toss them in sugar.  You may also wish to consider soaking the cherries in brandy for a few hours if you're making the clafoutis for a special occasion.

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Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  We recommend adding the eggs to the sugar and custard powder, then mixing in the cream.

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When the oven is ready, pour a little of the batter into the hot pan, and add the cherries.

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Then pour in the remaining batter and give the pan a little shake to distribute the cherries evenly.

Bake for 40-50 minutes.

When cooked, the clafoutis will be bouncy and firm to the touch.  It will puff up, especially around the sides, a little reminiscent of a Yorkshire pudding, then subside as it cools.

Serve warm or cold, dusted with a little icing sugar.

Fruit Flan (Fruit Tart)

A flan (or tart) differentiates itself from the flaugnard by means of its pastry case.  This recipe can easily be made in the style of a flaugnard simply by omitting the pastry.  It can, furthermore, be made gluten free by using gluten free flour or almond meal.

Ingredients

Filling:
zest and juice of one lemon
200ml sour cream
1 large egg
100g sugar
70g flour
fruit, e.g. stewed apricots or canned peaches (drained)

Pastry:
225g unsalted butter
100g castor sugar
1 egg
350g plain flour
(For the method, see how we made the pastry for the Nougat de Tours.)

Glaze:
1/3 cup apricot jam
1 tbl water

Pre-heat oven to 180-200 degrees Celcius.

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Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl, leaving the fruit until last or keeping it separate.  If separate, pour a little of the filling into your pastry case, then arrange the fruit evenly across the flan.

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Fill the case making sure all the fruit is covered.

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Bake for 40-45 minutes until the middle no longer wobbles and is firm to the touch.



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Sprinkle with icing sugar (using a sieve) and put under the grill until it browns.  (Don't worry if there are white patches - they will disappear when glazed.)

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Allow tart to cool on a wire rack.

Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan.  Brush the tart with the jam and allow it to set before serving.

 

Toll House Cookies

05/09/2013

 
This is the first of our recipes for children.  Whether you're a home educating parent, a doting uncle or aunt who wants to do some baking with the littl'uns, or just feeling a tad lazy, this is a recipe for you.

PictureRuth Graves Wakefield

The Toll House Cookie is better known around the world as the chocolate chip cookie.  The details are a matter of dispute, but what is beyond reasonable doubt is that Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, invented them in 1930 using broken-up Nestlé chocolate bars.  The cookies became so popular that Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestlé in exchange for a lifetime's supply of chocolate.  Nestlé invented the chocolate morsel so home cooks wouldn't have to break up their chocolate bars, and the rest (as they say) is history.

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The method we're using today harks back to its invention.  We're using Nestlé dark chocolate buttons so that they can break up in the mixer the way the chocolate in the very first Toll House Cookie would have.  If you don't have a stand mixer, you may prefer to use chocolate chips.


Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter
170g brown sugar
170g castor sugar
200g chocolate buttons
130g pecans


2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
350g flour

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If you're cooking with children, the first thing to do is get organised.  (If you're not, it doesn't hurt to be methodical.)  First, put the two sugars in your mixing bowl.  Secondly, dice your butter.  Thirdly, put the nuts and chocolate in one bowl; and mix the flour, salt, and soda in another.  If your children are fairly young, we suggest you use bowls you can't break.

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Add the butter to the sugar, and mix using the paddle attachment.   Don't 'cream' them unless you want a very thin cookie.  Limiting the mixing stops them spreading too much and becoming one flat mass of conjoined cookies.

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Next, add the chocolate and nuts.  This is where we replicate the process by which the first chocolate chip cookie was made.  According to legend, the vibrations of a Hobart mixer knocked some Nestlé chocolate bars off a storage shelf into the cookie dough.  Mix them in so that the chocolate and nuts break up a little.

Now you can add the eggs, then the flour mixture, approximately one-third at a time.  (Pulse your mixer rather than just turning it on if you don't want a mess.)

Handy Tip: If you want to break eggs in one hand like a pro, make sure you crack them on a flat surface (not an edge) so that you don't end up with broken bits of shell in your cooking.
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You could put the paddle and bowl in the sink to be washed, but we don't like to waste a single crumb, so feel free to lick it as long as your eggs are safe to eat raw.  (The key to safe eggs is to wash their shells.)

Pre-heat your oven to 210 degrees Celcius.  (Any temperature between 200 and 220 should be fine.)

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At this point, turn out you dough onto a clean surface dusted with flour and knead sufficiently for it all to stick together.  This is a brief process.  You do not need to make it smooth.

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Cut off pieces and roll into logs to press out any air bubbles.

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If you have little helpers, they should be able to participate fully as long as you don't use a sharp knife.
 

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Put aside any excess logs and freeze for later.

(This recipe makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies, so you can put some aside if you're feeling penitential, but we don't recommend it.)

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Cut your logs into small sections so that your little helpers can roll them (just like play dough) into little balls.  It's important to make them even in size.  As a guide, ours were approximately 20g in weight and 3-4cms in diameter.

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Make sure you space your cookies so that they cook evenly.  You can flatten them slightly with a fork if you prefer, but it's not necessary. The cookies will spread by themselves in the oven.

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Bake until they are golden brown (approx. 15 minutes).


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Allow the cookies to cool down a little on a wire rack before eating.  You don't want to burn your tongue!

You should now have enough cookies to fill a couple of cookie jars.

If you are using this recipe as a lesson for your children, you could do various activities relating to the history of toll houses and turnpikes.  At the very least, it's great fun getting out a map and finding Whitman, Massachusetts, the original home of the world-famous Toll House Cookie.
 
 
Ciabatta, which means slipper in Italian, has a hotly-disputed history.  It is generally marketed as a traditional bread, the sort of bread one might have consumed along with a tankard of mead in an alehouse in the Middle Ages.  However, a miller called Arnaldo Cavallari claims to have invented it in 1982 to save Italy from skyrocketing baguette imports from France.  If he did, it was a stroke of genius.  Ciabatta has become the bread of choice in trendy cafés, restaurants, and sandwich shops the world over.  With a high water content (80%), it's an inexpensive bread to produce, and yet it is often double the price of other breads.

It is delightfully ironic to be baking a bread that fended off an invasion of French baguettes to accompany our Veal Marengo recipe celebrating a French Napoleonic victory in Italy, but the main reason we've chosen to feature the ciabatta is that it's a bread that's particularly pleasing to the senses.  It isn't just tasty.  It tears beautifully in the hands, alternates between a crunchy crust and soft springy centre, and gives off the most wonderful aroma in the oven.  And then there's the texture.  The loaves are a work of art, never identical, a joy to touch.

Some say it isn't a bread for novice bakers, but we beg to differ.  As long as you are not impatient and keep the dough wet, this is an easy bread to make.

Ingredients:

700g strong (high gluten bread/pizza) flour
20g dry yeast
20g salt
pinch of castor sugar
1 tbl white vinegar (or sourdough starter)
560ml tepid water
20ml olive oil
olive oil spray (optional)
flour for dusting, preferably rye

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Begin by weighing and mixing all the dry ingredients.  It's important to weigh these as the amount can vary so much if you use a cup measure depending on how densely the flour is packed.  Add the flour mixture to 500ml of the tepid water and a splash of vinegar (c. 1 tbl) in the bowl of your stand mixer.  (If you don't have a stand mixer, be prepared for quite a workout.)  Mix on slow speed using a dough hook, adding the rest of the water as needed so that you have a very wet and sticky dough.

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Mix on a higher speed for ten to fifteen minutes until the dough sticks with a cobweb-like consistency, then add the olive oil and continue mixing for a minute or two.

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By this time, the dough should be supple and stretchy and have a high sheen.  Add a small handful of flour and continue to mix on high speed.

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The dough should come away from the bowl - add a little more flour if it doesn't.

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The dough will now be supple, shiny, smooth, and stretch easily.

Let it rise for approximately two hours in the bowl, covered with cling wrap or a plastic bag.  It should more than double, even triple in size.

Pre-heat your oven to 230 degrees Celcius or thereabouts.

After your dough has risen, give it a generous spray of olive oil and knock it back.  (This prevents it sticking to you or the dough scraper.) Then sift rye flour over the top.

Pour your dough on to a (rye) floured bench top or board, and sift more rye flour over the top.  Gently shape your dough into a rough rectangle, pushing the flour against the sides of the dough with your scraper so that the dough is encased in flour and doesn't stick.  You should be able to lift up the edges, feel the springiness, and pull the dough into shape.  Cut the dough into two large or four small loaves, once again shaping them using your dough scraper, this time into slipper shapes.
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Place your 'slippers' on a baking tray (or trays) and gently push them back into shape if necessary.

Bake for 45 minutes with a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to produce steam (though this isn't mandatory).  The loaves pictured did not use the steam 'trick' but some swear by it.

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Cool the loaves on wire racks.

Ciabatta is so delicious that it can be eaten straight.  Its flavour is best appreciated with olive oil or unsalted butter.

Whether you use your ciabatta for a fancy lunch sandwich, to soak up a rich sauce, or as an accompaniment with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, your guests will think it came from one of the finest bakeries of the region.

 
 
Our last recipe, the Nougat de Tours, left us with some spare sweet pastry dough.  Given that this often happens when making pastry, we thought we'd show you how to transform it quickly and easily into Shortbread Spirals.  Popular with adults and children alike, you're not likely to have to worry about even putting them away, let alone them going off.

The only additional ingredients you'll need are: a couple of tablespoons of cocoa, a sprinkling of castor sugar, and an egg white (or water if you've run out).

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Take your leftover dough and split it in half.  Flatten one of them a little, add one to two tablespoons of cocoa, fold your dough over it to keep the cocoa from going everywhere, and knead it in.  This is something you can even let children do.  It's just like play dough, except tastier!

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Roll out both halves so that they're roughly the same size.  Brush the plain pastry with egg white (or water) and place the chocolate one on top.  Smooth it out so there are no air bubbles.  Brush the top again with egg white.  (This is so your spiral sticks together.)

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Lift the pastry and create a rounded edge to begin your spiral.

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Then roll the pastry together, taking care to eliminate air bubbles as best you can.  It's no big deal if you don't get rid of them all - we had a few! - as long as you don't mind a few small holes here and there in your spirals.  In other words, try, but don't stress over it.  They'll still taste good!

If your roll threatens to fall apart or lose its shape, unroll and brush again with egg white.

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Run your hand over the roll and feel for bumps (air bubbles).  See if you can gently squeeze them out.  Then coat your spiral roll in castor sugar.

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Cut off the ends as cook's privileges and reserve on the baking tray for "testing".

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Cut your spiral roll into slices no thicker than one centimetre....

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...then arrange them on a lined baking tray with at least an inch between them.  Bake in a 180-200 degree oven for approximately ten minutes.  (The plain pastry should give just a hint of turning golden brown.)

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Serve as is, or half dip in melted chocolate for a special treat.

 

Nougat de Tours

02/09/2013

 
La belle cuisine is taken very seriously in France, and the Nougat de Tours is no exception.  Its history goes back to at least the Renaissance, and it even has its own confraternity.  But that's not the reason we've chosen it as our inaugural recipe.  We just like its simplicity and versatility.
There are fabulous historical associations with Tours that add to our appreciation of this delicious tart.  We all enjoy the traditions associated with the Twelve Days of Christmas, and some of you may even be familiar with Michaelmas - after all, schools in the UK still refer to a Michaelmas term.  There is also Martinmas, but it has fallen out of favour over the last century, mostly because of the unfortunate concurrence of Armistice Day.

"But what's Martinmas got to do with the Nougat de Tours?" you ask.  Well, Martinmas is the Feast of St Martin of Tours, and Tours is one of the famous pit-stops on the historical pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.  And it's thanks to the legend of St Martin's cloak that we have the words chapel and chaplain.  St Martin, born in Hungary, grew up in Italy and then spent the majority of his life in France.  He is considered a 'spiritual bridge' across Europe.  As we intend to sample the cuisine of many countries, particularly European ones, we hope the Nougat de Tours will be a 'culinary bridge' into the world of the Historian and the Chef.

Martinmas (November 11) also falls just before Advent, a penitential period heralding the celebrations and feasting of Christmas.  In past times, Advent was longer and began immediately after Martinmas.  Like the forty days of Lent, it was another forty day period recalling Christ's tribulation in the desert, a period of waiting for the coming of the Messiah.  Eggs would have to be used up before such a period of fasting (which is  one of the reasons we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday).  This recipe calls for five eggs and is native to Tours, so it's a perfect Martinmas treat. 

Like many enduring recipes, it has a fairly humble past.  It can easily be regarded as merely a peasant dish using the most basic of ingredients.  The beauty of such dishes is that they are what you make of them.  With the slightest variations, the Nougat de Tours can be served  at a fine dinner party or a rustic supper, a ladies' morning tea or a picnic in the countryside.
This is what you'll need....

A pie/flan mould.  A metal one with loose bottom is easiest, but a silicone or ceramic one is fine.  We used one that is 24cms in diameter at the base.

For the pastry:
115g icing sugar
175g butter
2 eggs
340g flour
25g corn flour

For the macaronade:
5 egg whites
20g castor sugar
100g almond meal
80g castor sugar
a large handful of raisins (soaked in your choice of beverage)
icing sugar for dusting

Note: These amounts will make more pastry than you need, so you can either make two tarts (double the macaronade ingredients), halve the pastry amounts, or make something extra (which we'll show you at the end as a bonus).  The amounts for the macaronade are easy to manipulate using the principle of tant pour tant - equal amounts of almond meal and sugar.  The corn flour isn't essential, so if you don't have any just top up with regular flour.  In fact, you don't even need to make the pastry yourself - frozen pastry is fine, but there's nothing like being able to say you made it yourself.  You can also use a substitute for the almonds.  (Nougat comes from the word noix, French for nut or walnut.)

Your choice of beverage and fruit will strongly influence the nature of the tart.  To make a delicate tart for fine dining, we recommend soaking golden raisins, cranberries, or chopped dried apricots in brandy or sherry.  For a more robust taste, we soaked muscatels in coffee.  You can also use mixed dried fruit or, as has become common, fruits confits (candied fruit) with a confiture.  (Mishka rather likes the sophistication of a confiture of orange slices.)  Your personal taste and choices, along with the way you cook and present it, will make your Nougat de Tours an expression of who you are.  Once you make these choices, the recipe becomes yours.  It's your Nougat de Tours.

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The Pastry

Making pastry shouldn't be stressful.  Quite the opposite!  It really should be a therapeutic experience.  This is why we're using a basic sweet pastry recipe that you can use for any tart of your choice.  It doesn't even need to be blind baked!  You can jazz it up when you feel more confident, but it really isn't necessary.  Simplicity has its advantages.
Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, combine the butter and icing sugar, before switching to the dough hook and adding the eggs, then the two flours.  (You don't need to cream the butter and sugar - it's more like rubbing in.)  Once they're roughly mixed, dump your clumps of dough on a clean bench and begin kneading.  This is the therapeutic part.

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It shouldn't take long before you have a nice smooth dough which you can mould into two thick logs.  If you over knead it (or are working in a very warm kitchen), it may become difficult to manage, but don't fret, just put it in the refrigerator for a short while.  Put one log aside for later.

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Dust your bench with some flour and roll out your log.  If you do this methodically, it should come out fairly square.  Roll up and down, turn ninety degrees and roll again.  Then roll on the diagonals and so forth.  The idea is to get a smooth and even sheet approximately half a centimetre in height.  Glide your palm across the dough - caress it! - to find any bumps, and smooth them out with the rolling pin.

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Grease your tin - we used an olive oil spray - and place it on top of the dough so that you can use it as a guide to cut your pastry into a circle.  This doesn't have to be neat, just make sure you err on the side of caution so that you have enough pastry for the sides. 

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Now place your pastry inside the tin and press it in.  Once that's done you can cut off the edges by simply rolling your rolling pin in an outward direction along the edge of the tin.

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Finally, prick the base with a fork.  This will stop air bubbles forming and means you won't need to do a blind bake.

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The Macaronade:

We like to begin this part of the recipe by making a cup of tea or coffee.  If it's later in the day and you're making the Nougat de Tours for a dinner party, you may prefer something stronger.  At the same time, soak your raisins (or other fruit) in the beverage of your choice (or hot water if you want a minimalist taste). 

You should also pre-heat your oven to somewhere between 180 and 200 degrees Celcius.  We chose 180 degrees for the Nougat de Tours pictured, but we found 200 degrees better for a more rustic Nougat using coffee-soaked muscatels.

Before making the macaronade, rinse your bowl with a few teaspoons of white vinegar (to remove any fat residue).  You should do this whenever whipping egg whites to ensure they work and to hasten the process.

Whip the egg whites with the 20g of castor sugar until stiff.

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Mix the remaining castor sugar with the almond meal, then fold into the egg whites with a metal spoon.

Drain your raisins (or other fruit) and fold them in too; or, if you prefer, spread your fruit on the pastry to form a bed for the macaronade.  The latter is necessary if using fruits confits with a confiture.

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Then pour your macaronade into its pastry casing, smoothing it out gently with a spatula.  If you're particularly concerned about appearances, remember that consistency and symmetry are key to not distracting from the overall beauty of your tart... and that the heat of the oven will smooth out minor flaws.

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Dust your tart with icing sugar, and wait for it to sink in and dissolve. 

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When it has done so, dust it a second time, trim the edge of the pasrty with a knife (cutting outwards), and bake for 25 to 35 minutes.

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Having said that, it's best if you can form a habit of deciding for yourself when a dish is ready as ovens vary in temperature and heat distribution.  You can tell if the Nougat de Tours is ready by looking at the edge.  The crust should be slightly raised and turning golden brown.

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After you've taken your tart out of the oven, allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes (or completely if you wish to serve it cold) before putting it on a serving plate.  If you are using a loose-bottomed pie tin, this is achieved easily by placing the whole tin on a bowl or other steady object with a smaller circumference and allowing the side frame to drop to the bench.  You can then place the tart on its serving plate without damaging the sides.

Now that you've made your Nougat de Tours, there's the question of  how to serve it.  Softly whipped (or dolloping) cream isn't necessary, but wouldn't be inappropriate, especially if served as a dinner party dessert.  Likewise, a sweet wine from the Touraine region of the Loire Valley would undoubtedly be a delightful accompaniment... but that was beyond the means of the Historian and the Chef

Whatever character you give your Nougat de Tours, we hope we have equipped you to take this basic recipe and make it your own... and we hope we have inspired you to give all your food an individual touch.

But what about that leftover pastry dough?  Read our next post to find out!