So for this week’s challenge, Mercotte took us off to sunny Spain for a cake known as the Alcazar. The word, which comes from the moorish word for palace, is used for several ancient and exotic palaces all over southern Spain. The cake itself, which is more of a tart really, consists of a sweet pastry case, filled with an apricot puree, topped with an almond filling, not too dissimilar to an apricot Bakewell tart. It was finished off with a lattice of almond paste, the holes of which were filled with more apricot, and topped off with jewel like pistachios.
Although technically easier than the last two challenges, the Alcazar resulted in the first appearance of what has become an institution on the Great British Bake Off—the dreaded soggy bottom. Mercotte’s instructions did not include the idea of blind baking, and none of the candidates thought to do this, which resulted in several of the tarts having uncooked pastry on the bottom.
I asked Mercotte in a comment on her post, if she would be able to supply us with the challenge recipes as well as the excellently detailed ones on her blog. Unfortunately, she replied that she couldn’t but then I noticed that there were no timings on the recipe for the Alcazar, just an indication of when it might be ready: game on!
As with all tarts in France, it was cooked using a pastry ring, rather than a tin, which can help with the soggy bottoms. Therefore, I didn’t blind bake my pastry either, although next time I will as there was just a small moist layer at the top of the pastry, but not a soggy bottom. By the time it came to the topping, I am afraid my diamonds are not as neat as they could have been but I was running out of time and wanted to do this within the two-hour limit the candidates had.
I must say that I am not a huge fan of the cake in itself due to the apricots, but would love to try it with a red fruit filling, so watch this space for how that goes. Only a few hours until tonight’s episode of Le Meilleur Pâtissier, so got to run. A bientôt!