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Rose's Alpha Bakers

TBB - Frozen Pecan Tart

Patricia Reitz

Frozen Pecan Tart - ButterYum

Today Rose's Alpha Bakers share our 5th selection as we bake our way through The Baking Bible.  Usually the recipes in this bake-a-long are not shared, but this week's recipe is available here.  Don't miss my commentary about the recipe, followed by a full photo tutorial below.

This week's selection - Frozen Pecan Tart, a unique twist on traditional pecan pie.  After all the Christmas baking I did last week, I was tempted to skip this week, but I decided it's nice to have a dessert tucked away in the freezer so I made it.  Glad I did - it's delish!

Special equipment needed - Half sheet pan, plastic wrap, 9.5" tart pan, rolling pin, optional digital scale (for the most precise measuring possible), a digital instant read thermometer, an adjustable cake ring, an 8" round cake pan, and a set of pastry wands.

How does it taste - In a word, amazing!  The filling is simply the best pecan tart filling ever.  Actually, as much as I love pecans, I'd happily eat this tart without any pecans at all - similar to a treacle tart, only better.   

How does it look - Impressive.  There's just something about concentric circles of pecans swimming in a pool of caramel filling.  Heck, even if you just tossed the pecans in haphazardly, the tart would still look impressive.    

Level of difficulty - Intermediate.  The Pate Sucree (sweet dough) crust and tart filling are very easy to make, but rolling the dough and placing it in the tart pan can be a bit challenging.  Special care is needed when baking the tart shell too. 

Were the directions clear - Yes, although they are quite lengthy. 

A few bakers in the group had trouble understanding the directions for rolling and placing the crust into the tart pan, but if you follow my photos (or the photos on page 225 in the book), you shouldn't have any trouble. 

What would I do differently next time - Absolutely nothing (or I half- jokingly suggest maybe omitting the pecans and doubling up on the filling because it's so darn good).  Making mini tarts would also be nice. 

Next up - Chocolate Cuddle Cake 

Okay, here's my photo tutorial.

If using turbinado sugar, blitz it in a food processor until it's finely ground.  No need to do this if you're using superfine sugar. 

Here's what my turbinado sugar looked like after blitzing. 

Next we'll add chilled butter that has been cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Pulse the butter with the sugar until the sugar is no longer visible.

It only takes a few pulses.

This is what the butter and sugar should look like.

Time to add the flour and salt.

And the egg yolk and heavy cream. 


Pulse the flour, salt, egg yolk, and cream with the butter and sugar.

Pulse until the mixture looks crumbly like this.

Dump the crumbly mixture into a large zip-top bag.

Use your knuckles to press the clumps together to form a 6-inch round disk.

Rose suggests wrapping the dough disk in plastic wrap, but I just used the plastic bag that I shaped the dough in.  

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. 

When you're ready to roll the dough for the tart crust, gather some equipment like this 8-inch round cake pan.

A ruler, plastic wrap, a 9.5-inch tart pan with removable bottom, and something 12 inches in diameter like a pot lid, a round cake cardboard, or a cake pan, (being a cake maker has come in handy for this project).

If you don't have a 12-inch pot lid, cake board, or cake pan, you might have this nifty expandable tart ring which can adjust anywhere from 6.5 to 12.5 inches in diameter.

And if you have them, a set of Pastry Wands (you'll need 2 of the 1/8-inch size from the set to roll this crust).

Roll the crust between layers of flour-dusted plastic wrap.  I normally don't like to mess with plastic wrap when rolling crusts, but in this case, it's crucial when draping the crust over the inverted cake pan.  One note, my plastic wrap is only 11 inches wide, but the directions say to roll the crust into a 12-inch circle so I had to place 2 layers of plastic wrap, overlapping slightly, under and over the dough.

Once the crust is rolled to the proper diameter, remove the top layer of plastic wrap and place something 12 inches in diameter on the crust; cut away any excess dough (save in case you have to patch any holes).  The crust should still be sitting on the bottom layer of plastic wrap.

Grab the edge of the plastic wrap and carefully pull it over the inverted cake pan, centering the crust so it drapes evenly all around the pan.  Note the plastic wrap is UNDER the pie crust.  DO NOT flip the crust over so the plastic is on top.  You're welcome.

Center the removable bottom of the tart pan on the crust.

Add the tart ring.

Hold all layers together and quickly flip everything over.

Remove the cake pan and plastic wrap.

Now fold all the excess crust to the inside of the tart pan, building up the sides of the tart with a double layer of crust.  Pay special attention to remove all crust from the outside of the tart pan or you'll have trouble unmolding the tart later.

Use the dull side of a knife blade to make a little diagonal design.  I think the fluted tart design is pretty enough that you really don't need to do this step, but you decide if you want to do it or not. 

Now we pop the tart into the fridge to chill for an hour.

About 30 minutes before you bake your tart shell, arrange oven racks in the lowest and middle positions and preheat to 425F.  

Line the unbaked tart shell - Rose suggests parchment paper which is expensive and not very flexible, or a very large coffee filter which can be hard to find, but  I like to use paper towels which are inexpensive, flexible, and super easy to find.

After you line the tart shell, fill it with rice or beans.  If you use beans, you can't cook them afterward, but if you use rice, you can cook it afterward (and you'll love the toasted flavor it develops in the oven).  Naturally, I chose to use rice.

Place the lined and filled tart shell on a half sheet pan and place on the bottom rack of a 425F oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until the crust "sets" (that means it won't slump down the sides of the tart pan when you remove the liner and rice).   See how the rice toasted a bit while it was in the oven?  Yum.

Remove tart shell from oven and remove paper liner and rice.  

Cover the edges of the crust with foil or a pie shield and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes.  

My crust didn't puff up anywhere, but if your crust does, just flatten the puffed areas with the back of a spoon, being careful not to puncture the crust.  Set prebaked crust aside to cool while you make the filling.  Lower oven to 350F.

Time to make the filling.  In a small sauce pan (like Rose's Caramel Pot), combine muscovado sugar, egg yolks, heavy cream, unsalted butter, fine sea salt, and the ingredient that absolutely makes this tart, Lyle's golden syrup (this stuff is liquid gold!).

I got a phone call while I was making this filling so I missed a couple photos, but heat the mixture gently, stirring constantly, until it reaches 160F.  This only takes a few minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in pure vanilla extract, and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any bits of cooked egg and whatnot.  Doing this will ensure your filling is silky smooth.

Time to fill the prebaked tart shell with a layer of pecans.  You can do this neatly, or haphazardly - it's up to you. 

Carefully pour the strained filling over the pecans.  The pecans will float on the filling so pour slowly to prevent the pecan design from getting messed up (not a problem if you layer the pecans in a haphazard fashion).   Protect the exposed crust with foil or a pie shield and bake in a 350F oven, on the center rack, for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190-200F.

Use a digital instant read thermometer to check the temp.  Done!  Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to rest for 45 minutes before unmolding.

To unmold, elevate the tart on an inverted bowl and let the tart ring slip right off.  

The tart is still a little flexible at this point.  I wanted to keep it on the flat tart bottom while it was chilling in the freezer, but I knew it would get stuck to the bottom of the tart pan (the frozen butter would act like glue) so I used a large cake lifter to support the tart as I slipped a 9-inch parchment cake round between the pan bottom and the tart.  I hope I explained that in a way that made sense. 

You can see how the residual melted butter on the removable tart bottom "glues" the parchment round in place (the same residual butter would have glued the tart in place once the tart was frozen - didn't want that!).

You can see how the residual melted butter on the removable tart bottom "glues" the parchment See how the frozen tart is easy to remove from the parchment.  It's the simple tricks that make all the difference. 

The tart can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Cut and serve this tart directly from the freezer.

Instead of drizzling chocolate ganache on the tart, I decided to use it to decorate my serving plates.  I love the way it dressed the plates up.  Serve with a nice dollop of freshly whipped heavy cream and you have yourself a delicious and elegant dessert. 

links to more alpha baker photo tutorials