I love Bakewell Tart in any shape or form. Mr Kipling – tick. Sainsbury’s cherry almond slices – tick. M&S Bakewell – double tick. Anything involving almonds or marzipan is good in my book.
My Bakewell Tart recipe comes from Ceserani & Kinton’s ‘Practical Cookery’. I have the 1979 edition – the year I started at catering college. It is one of my favourite books – the spine has not just cracked, but disappeared completely, the pages held together only with the original glue and quite a lot of different generations of Sellotape – and the pages smell of everything I have cooked over the last 37 years.
When I worked in a ski chalet in the 1980s, Bakewell Tart was far and away the favourite afternoon tea cake for our guests (and for us lot in the chalet). In those days, I just made the basic recipe – shortcrust pastry, layered with (probably rather horrid) jam from catering-sized tins; frangipane made with plain flour; all topped off with drizzles of glace icing. Absolutely delicious.
I’ve moved on, but can’t definitively say the end result is better, just different. I hate Turkish jam (aka tooth rot), so the jam is always home-made. The pastry is an extra short version I found in ‘The French Kitchen’ by Joanne Harris, which I now use for every event involving pastry. I use self-raising flour for a lighter sponge and I top it with fresh berries and flaked almonds, caramelised by a good sprinkling of icing sugar before it goes in the oven. It looks and tastes spectacular, but one of these days I might just go back to the original and do a taste test.
Start this the day before, if you can, so that your pastry is well rested and much easier to roll out. You will have enough pastry left over for at least one more tart, and probably a few pie tops or tartlets as well – it freezes beautifully and even behaves better for freezing.
(Apologies for the photos – after we’d eaten quite a lot of the tart and I started to write this, I realised there must have been something on the lens of the camera – am guessing sun cream after today’s walk – ooops.)
Extra short pastry (from The French Kitchen, Joanne Harris)
250g plain flour
175g butter, cold from the fridge, cut into cubes
For the tart:
Jam, any kind which goes with your chosen fruit – 2 or 3 tablespoons, at room temperature
100g soft butter or margarine
85g self raising flour
85g ground almonds
A splash of natural almond extract
A handful each of frozen raspberries and blueberries (or any fruit of your choice)
A handful of flaked almonds
You will need a loose-bottomed tart tin, approx 25cm in diameter, well greased
For the pastry, put the flour and cubed cold butter into a food processor and process for about 30 seconds until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Crack the egg into the mix, fill one half of the eggshell with cold water and add to the mix (obviously just the water, not the shell). Process again, using the ‘pulse’ action, until the pastry forms into a ball – it will take another 30 seconds or so. Tip the pastry out, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is good).
(If you don’t have a food processor, cut the butter into tiny cubes and then rub gently into the flour with your fingertips until you have the required breadcrumb texture. Beat the egg with the water, tip into the mix and stir firmly with a table knife until the dough comes together – you will probably have to finish this process with your hand. Don’t be tempted to add more water or your dough will shrink when it is cooked.)
Once the dough has been rested in the fridge, cut the dough into two and roll out one half until it is large enough to fit your tart tin. Make sure your tin is well greased, then line the tin with the dough, pressing it into the corners and trimming the dough once it is in the tin. Any off-cuts can be squidged up and go in the freezer with the remaining dough – it will be as good as new once it has rested in the freezer.
VERY IMPORTANT: Refrigerate the pastry case while you make the topping, or for a bit longer if you can (I often do the pastry bit the day before).
Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Put the softened butter or margarine in a mixing bowl with the sugar and beat with a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the ground almonds, flour and almond extract. (If you prefer, you can do all this in a food processor, but it makes more washing up).
Spoon the jam into the pastry case – you want just enough for a thin layer. If the jam is too thick, it will be difficult to spread the sponge on top, so keep it as thin as you are able. As you can see from the photo, my jam was a rather random affair of large lumps of plums and whole cherries, so it was less than ideal!
Dollop splodges of the sponge all over the top – a dessert spoon is the best tool – then spread as evenly as you can with a knife.
Dot the berries all over the top, sprinkle with the flaked almonds, then sieve over the icing sugar.
Stand the tart tin on a baking sheet if you have one – this will help the bottom to crisp – then bake for 30 – 40 minutes, turning after 25 minutes if one side is browning more than the other. The tart is ready when the topping is evenly browned and the nuts are starting to caramelise. Allow to cool before serving – best just warm or at room temperature.