Baking with almonds – classic frangipane
Almonds are not just ideal for gluten-free baking but are also a mainstay of classic patisserie. Here we take a look at the king of the classics; almond frangipane.
What is frangipane?
Frangipane is a classic French pastry cream found in the repertoire of every pastry chef. The main ingredient in frangipane is ground almonds.
Far easier to make than its elegant reputation would suggest, frangipane is simply a mix of almonds, butter, eggs and sugar. Sometimes flour is added to give the mix more stability. It can be mixed with creme patissiere, that other favourite of pastry chefs, to give a soft creamy richness.
How to make frangipane
Frangipane begins with ground almonds. To make your own ground almonds you will need to blanch your almonds. You can put all of the ingredients into a mixer and beat together but the classic way is cream the butter and the sugar first, as you would to make a cake.
Recipe for a classic frangipane almond cream
To fill an 9 inch tart case 250g butter, soft 250g caster sugar 2 egg 2 egg yolk 2 tbsp plain flour 250g ground almonds 1 tsp vanilla paste
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. An electric hand mixer is the ideal tool for the job.
Beat the eggs and yolks together and beat into the sugar mixture with the vanilla paste.
Lightly fold in the ground almonds and the flour.
Make a frangipane tart
The easiest way to make a foolproof frangipane tart is to use tinned fruit. Go for the kind in halves; pears, peaches or apricots.
To line a 9 inch flan tin you will need 300g of shortcrust pastry. The pastry will be cooked along with the almond filling, not blind baked.
Line the tart case and put it the fridge to chill. Pre heat the oven to 190C.
Fill the tart case with the almond filling to just over halfway. Drain the fruit and dry on a paper towel. Press the fruit halves into the filling, creating a circle around the edge. Fill in the gaps at the centre.
Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the filling is set. It should be golden and well risen. Like cake, a knife inserted into the centre will come out clean.
Once the tart has cooled slightly brush with an apricot glaze made from 2 tablespoons apricot jam brought to the boil with a scant tablespoon of water. Scatter with flaked almonds and cool before slicing into portions. It is best served only just warm.
How to tell if frangipane is cooked
Frangipane is fairly forgiving but like most things it does have a perfect point. It should rise in the oven and form a golden brown crust, with a just set centre. The main cause of undercooked frangipane is baking at too high a heat. The crust will brown too quickly, leaving a soggy centre. Overcooked and it will be dry and granular. As long as it has risen and browned slowly, and you are near the end of the cooking time. you are safe to insert a knife into the filling at the centre. It should come out clean.
What to do with leftover frangipane
There are many things you can do with leftover frangipane but the most obvious, and utterly delicious, is to make almond croissants. Designed entirely for the purpose of using up leftovers, the almond croissant is made by cutting a (preferably stale) croissant through the centre and spreading with frangipane. You only want a thin layer or the croissant will over brown before the frangipane is cooked. Close it up and bake in the oven until the frangipane is cooked through. Scatter with toasted flaked almonds and a liberal snowstorm of icing sugar. Serve warm, tepid even, not hot.
You can freeze almond pastry cream for several months. Bring it up to room temperature before you use it and give it a good stir as it will separate out a bit.
We hope you have been inspired to try your hand at some classic baking techniques.
All of our Australian almonds are pesticide-free. Did you know it is far more cost effective to buy almonds in bulk?