The Queen of Hearts indeed made some tarts, but our Wisconsin bakers staged a veritable overthrow of her crown as they whisked along with this week’s Great British Baking Show: TARTS! Devoted entirely to topless (gasp) pastry, Paul and Mary’s tent tormented contestants with a Classic French Tarte Tatin, Mary Berry’s (Very Own) British Treacle Tart and a Designer Fruit Tart worthy of a Parisian patisserie window — speaking of overthrows, step aside, Napoleon.
In the spirit of The Great British Baking Show, The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge asked our bakers to select just one of the three tart challenges. It was a holiday week in Wisconsin and the nation as we celebrated Independence Day, but our bakers still delivered: through road travel, motor boating and oodles of Aunt Nanette’s noodle salad. Thanks for the fruity fireworks, friends!
Before we get s(tart)ed: If you have not watched this episode yet, SPOILER ALERT!
And don’t forget to read to the bottom to find out who our six featured Wisconsin bakers are!
ROUND 1: CLASSIC FRENCH TARTE TATIN
Judges challenged our British bakers to their own sweet (or savory) variation of this traditional, caramelized apple tart. Contestants had to keep their nerves in check to maintain a crisp pastry impervious to steamy fruit juices, and to avoid trembling hands for the final pan-to-plate inversion!
The Disaster: Brendan’s behemoth betrayed him. Boasting twelve (yes, twelve) whole apples, his tart’s steaming fruit juices drowned the crust, collapsing the whole thing to a ginger and Granny Smith gaffe! Chin up, Brendan.
The Highlights: Sarah Jane dazzled Paul with her Banana — Paul’s favorite — Tarte Tatin. A simple, straightforward recipe baked to perfection is often just the ticket for first rate flavor, color and caramelized texture. Atta girl, Sarah!
The Takeaway: Learn to overcome the finicky relationship between fruit, pastry and heat . . . and keep your hand steady!
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
A dozen of our Wisconsin bakers flipped out (har!) over the Tarte Tatin.
Maddie and Grandma, our Busy Bee Bakers, added rhubarb, making “the French Tarte with our German heritage love for rhubarb pie like Grandma always made.” Maddie took the rhubarb from her Uncle’s backyard. Ginger from Winneconne submitted a savory breakfast, Petit-dejeuner Tarte with apples, potatoes, honey & butter syrup, Johnsonville Brats and Spotted Cow beer! Ginger assures us she removed all the Wisconsin calories.
Jordan from Queensland, Australia echoed the flip of the Tarte by baking from the flip side of the globe, using fresh oranges and lemons and adding cardamom and ginger to the caramel — spices that remind us of a blustery Wisconsin in autumn. And Zander from Gillet loaded his Tarte with the syrup his Grandpa makes every year from the maple trees in his woods.
ROUND 2: MARY BERRY’S TREACLE TART
For the Technical, Mary Berry trotted out her personal Treacle Tart recipe. “Treacle” is used in the UK to refer to everything from sticky molasses to golden syrup. Mary’s recipe demanded an elaborate, interwoven pastry top. Judges wanted to see a lavish lattice with a perfectly golden brown undercarriage. They offered our British friends only a baking temperature but the tart’s exact time in the oven was up to bakers to decide.
The Disaster: Manisha’s Treacle mixture of golden syrup, lemon and breadcrumbs was judged far too thick, plopping her in last place.
The Highlight: James won the Treacle trophy in the blind judge. His tart delivered the thin, bottom crust Paul and Mary hoped for, an even bake, an attractive lattice and lovely flavor and texture.
The Takeaway: Don’t let the filling cool too much or it will solidify and become impossible to work with. Be swift with your latticework and don’t make your shortcrust strips too thin!
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
Another dozen (we’re sensing a theme) Wisconsinites tackled the British Treacle Tart. Sandra from Tomah made a Treacle so beautiful we hope she’ll take it on her trip to the UK this month and share! Is Tart Diplomacy a thing?
Joelle from Madison let the iconic Memorial Union Terrace chair guide her way. Tammy from De Pere went rogue and used wild blueberries picked from the forest near Pembine, WI! And Jayme from Howard let the black bears up north inspire her bake.
We’d like to offer a big baker’s hug to Alexandria from Madison who found the Treacle treacherous, and had what she describes as a disappointing bake this week. We’re so glad you still submitted your results, Alexandria. Learning supersedes success or beauty, in our opinion. Please stay with us and know that — whoohee — we’ve all been there. One of our editors will share her “Great Christmas Tart Debacle of 2003, ” story with you sometime; some of her siblings still hold a grudge!
ROUND 3: DESIGNER FRUIT TART
The “tart of all tarts” led the Show Stopper Challenge this week. Our Brits were asked to make one, large fruit tart so ornate and embellished we could just as well see it in a patisserie window on the Champs-Élysées. Judges wanted professional presentation matched with an even bake and fabulous flavors.
The Highlight: James’ Rose, Lychee and Raspberry Creme Mascarpone Tart topped with rose macaron cookies stood out for its color, depth, even bake and spectacular rose flavor. Paul called it “like a Turkish delight.” We think you’re the delight, James!
The Disaster: Victoria’s Tropical Fruit Tart with Black Pepper Crust topped with macadamia nut praline and a lime glaze was a disaster of flavor combinations. The judges found it wet; the zest of four limes in the creme patissiere overwhelmed the other elements.
The Takeaway: Adding sugar (necessary for this tart) to the shortcrust relaxes the glutens, making the pastry difficult to handle. Don’t overwork your pastry or you could risk a rubbery ride on the designer tart highway.
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
This category was our most popular bake this week, with a whopping 61 Designer Fruit Tart submissions all so beautiful and creative we can’t begin to catalog them here without tuckering you out. Inspired by ornate floral arrangements, the 4th of July holiday, Wisconsin bike paths, monuments and landscapes, we hope you’ll glance through all of them; they’re easy on the eyes.
We will note that our designer mother-daughter duo, Annette & Vernette are at it for a third week in a row!
There was a special Designer Fruit Tart submitted this week we’ve renamed, “The Tear Jerker Tart, ” submitted by Vicki from Madison. Vicki baked this gorgeous French Floral Lemon Tart with Meringue and Fresh Berries in honor of her Mom’s 75th birthday, which was on July 7.
From Vicki: “She is my inspiration, every day, to appreciate my blessings, be kind to others and enjoy life with family and friends. I wanted to bake a show-stopping tart to celebrate this milestone.”
From all of us at WPT, a warm and Happy 75th birthday to Vicki’s Mom! Thank you for passing on your love, including a love of baking, to your daughter and to Wisconsin.
Star Baker: James! His sweet pastries and sweater vests charmed the lot of us.
Kicked Out of the Tent: Victoria – and she accepted her departure with grace and warmth.
Our Six Featured Wisconsin Bakers:
Lilly from Combined Locks, WI
Lilly made this breathtaking apple tart. The ornate, edible bouquet of fruit tops a custard made with Wisconsin maple syrup. Does all of Outagamie County produce such show-stopping sensations, Lilly? We think Paris has a new competitor!
Barbie from Madison, WI
Brandy Old Fashioned + Tart = Wisconsin Perfection. Barbie transmogrified our classic Wisconsin cocktail into a delectable designer dessert. A shimmering sea of cherries covers a brandy, orange and cherry juice vanilla custard. Umm. . . Barbie, can we dive in?
Alaina from Milwaukee, WI
These “risk-taker” tarts in red, white and blue are topped with berries from Pete’s Fruit Market in Milwaukee. Alaina admires the family shop owned by Greek immigrants since 1963 who conquered culture and language to operate for 55 years. Courage in all things, business and baking.
Joni from Manitowoc, WI
If a sea captain’s sack lunch doesn’t include tarts, it will now. Joni’s “Ships Ahoy!” sensation recreates the Helm of the SS Badger, a historic steamship and car ferry which docks in Manitowoc. All aboard this Chambord-infused cruiser. Ahoy!
Amanda from Madison, WI
This “Summer On the Isthmus” designer tart frees Madison’s geography from its glutenous gremlins and recreates Lake Mendota and Lake Monona to scale. Amanda tops it with a Strawberry State Capitol Building (may it always be so sweet)!
Betty from Allouez, WI
Betty’s Tarte Tatin inspired her to use a 19th-century French technique making the caramel in a cast iron pan. She served it with slices of Wautoma white cheddar, a combination her father — and many fathers before her in Wisconsin — loved with apple pie. Tres Magnifique, Betty!
We DO hope you’ll join us for our Week 4 Challenge: Desserts! If you need inspiration for prepping your dough, you can watch the upcoming episode of The Great British Baking Show online now. On your marks, get set . . . bake!