Frangipane (fran-juh-pan) is a sweet filling used in many desserts. It is made of almond meal, and predictables like eggs,sugar, butter and a small helping of flour. The flour, I think is just to help the almond meal firm a little. Once baked, the crust turns firm and golden and the rest of the filling retains a somewhat creamy texture. It tastes less sweet and very similar to an almond burfi that has been removed before it has set properly. The only frangipane tarts I ever had are the ones made by me and they have been only vegan. I draw my conclusion having read into the traditional ingredients and the methodology. Frangipani, on the other hand, refers to the champaka, champa, golenchi flower or Plumeria alba.
When I began baking I began with cookies and tarts. I got so hooked I made the latter almost every other day. Even now I prefer what I call a ‘catart’ – a cake within a tart or over a tart base. I like how a mildly spiced, mildly sweet, thin crust perfectly offsets heavy cakes, esp., Christmas cake.
Coming to this recipe, I changed and adapted the filling to my liking while keeping the essence of the dish;
I suggest adding a tablespoon or two of sugar if you have a sweet tooth. The tart crust is made of wholewheat, mildly sweetened. Traditionally fruits in a frangipane tart are arranged in open flower patterns that allow the almond cake to show up on the crust alongside the fruits. The fruits help cut the richness of the filling. I went with a rose pattern as I had a good quantity of fruit slices and my tart is quite small – only six inches. I didn’t today, but often I baste the fruits with rum or thinned down maple syrup which makes it good too.
This meant that the frangipane would not find room to raise. However ever the almond-cocoa cream was gooey, creamy, and baked well underneath the fruits so it all came together perfectly. I felt having devoured that the cocoa powder was not necessary. Visually I felt it looks less appealing with cocoa.
Since I now maintain a sourdough starter, I use the discard in whichever recipes I can fit it in. Here too I used a little at-peak starter. I felt it helps it heaves the filling, which I am sure the eggs did. Adding sourdough to the crust make it crisp and gives a good mouthfeel.
The bean water or aquafaba in the filling is optional and can be omitted. I always have cooked pigeon peas in my refrigerator. I need the stock or the legume rich liquid for rasam. So I mash up some cooked pigeon peas and add water to it. The water settles on the top and gets all jelly like. It is this gelled water that I use for added protein in baked dishes as aquafaba or bean water is not something I use very often. Since I do not have a name for this I simply used the term aquafaba in the recipe as that too works. Feel free to use bean water of your choice as long as the aroma isn’t strong. If entirely omitting, then added a little plant milk to make up for the liquid.
Try making it. And remember you might need a little more sugar if you like a really sweet dessert.
If you would like to make this whole process easier than doing it all in a day, make the crust beforehand. It stays good refrigerated for a week, if wrapped in clingfilm. Sometimes I even roll the crust, line the tart or pie pan and leave the pans wrapped and refrigerated overnight. This saves the rolling time when you want to make this while cooking regular food. If anything, this turns out better as it does not need to thaw before baking. All you need to do is remove the wrap from the pan, prick the bottom with a fork, and put the pan into the pre-heated oven. It might take a few minutes longer but the crust turns out great.
The filling takes ten minutes and the fruits take another few minutes to slice so its all easy-peasy!
Recipe: Vegan Pear Frangipane Tart
Makes: A 6 inch tart. Serves 3
Sweet tart or pie crust
Whole wheat flour or atta – 165g
Sourdough starter at peak after being freshly fed – 40g
(Substitution for starter: Add a tsp of vegan curd or plant milk soured with a few drops of vinegar)
A pinch of pink salt (saindhav namak)
Fine raw sugar – 2 tbsp
Oil as per choice or Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Orange simple syrup (Optional) – 1 tbsp
Aquafaba – 1-2 tbsp
Vegan butter (I used homemade butter made with coconut oil) – 50g
Fine raw sugar – 60g
Aquafaba – 2 tbsp
Sourdough starter – 1 tbsp (Substitute: Just add thick plant based cream instead)
Almond Meal – 40g
Whole wheat flour – 1 tbsp
Tapioca flour – 1 tsp
Cocoa powder – 1 tbsp
A generous pinch of finely ground star anise (Optional or sub with any flavour of your choice – nutmeg, cinnamon or vanilla are good choices too)
Halve a large pear vertically.
Place it cut-side facing the chopping board. Slice very thin.
Prepare the crust: (Can be made upto a week in advance)
Place flour, starter, salt, and oil, and start mixing in a stand mixer at lowest speed.
Trickle in bean water while the mixture runs till the mixture starts to resemble breadcrumbs. At this point stop the mixer and try taking some dough in your fist and press tightly. If it clumps together, even if it looks like it will fall apart when dropped, it is done.
If not, add a teaspoon of cold water and mix a turn or two. Try again and adjust till you get to the right texture.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Press the crumbs together with one hand onto the sides or the surface, while holding down the bowl with the other. Form a rough mass.
Turn onto a clean work surface and continue forming a dough by pressing. Do not knead as it will activate the gluten. Divide into two portions as per convenience. Press each into a thick circle and wrap in cling film.
This can be used after 30 minutes of refrigeration.
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C. Bake the crust for 10 minutes with pie weights.
Prepare the filling:
Beat sugar and butter together till pale and fluffy. I did this in a stand mixer.
Reduce the speed to 2. Add in aquafaba, flours and starter. If it feels a little dry add a tablespoon of water.
Fold in the cocoa powder.
When the crust has baked for 10 minutes, remove the pie weights.
Pour in the almond cream filling and smoothen.
Arrange the fruit slices.
You can arrange in the traditional manner such that the frangipane forms part of the crust. That gives an interesting texture to the crust. I had lot of slices and did this arrangement on a whim. This is good too.
Bake at 180 Deg. C for another 30 minutes. Stick in a toothpick. It should come slightly sticky but cooked.
That’s it, folks!
Remove, cool completely or to a slightly warm feel and slice. Serve with a fruit glaze, jam glaze if you want to. Ice cream makes this too heavy for digestion.
Each bite should give you the juices from the pears and the flavours from the almond, cocoa and star anise.
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Eat well. Stay put at home unless you absolutely need to step out. Eat a slice of tart every now and then and hit that yoga mat.:D