Bakewell Tart

The snow’s coming down

I’m watching it fall…

To set the scene, we’re in Bakewell, a pretty market town in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Derbyshire Dales. It’s a cold and grey Saturday morning in mid-December and the streets are full of people bustling about. Inside the tearoom it’s warm and cosy. A table of four men across from us are all wearing Christmas sweaters (in a completely non-ironic way) and we wish we had ours too. There was some patchy snow overnight and now, as we sit in the warmth, Michael Buble crooning from the stereo, pleading with his baby to please come home, more snow begins to drift down past the window. It’s what Christmas dreams are made of.

And the point to this story? Aside from pots of tea, on the table in front of us is a Bakewell Pudding and a Bakewell Tart – both of which originated (although in the case of the latter there’s conflicting evidentiary proof to that claim) in this beautiful town.

The original Bakewell pudding was, as many of these things are, the result of a mishap. A visiting nobleman had ordered a strawberry tart, but instead of stirring the egg mixture into the pastry, the cook at The White Horse Inn in Bakewell spread it on top of a layer of jam. 

Mrs Wilson, the wife of the town’s tallow chandler (if you don’t know what a tallow chandler is, it’s someone who makes and sells tallow candles – tallow being rendered fat) recognised the possibility of producing the puddings to sell (I am, at this point resisting the temptation to make a comment about the smell of the tallow candles) and acquired the original recipe in order to commence a business of her own. This was back in 1860 and the rest is history. They’ve been made by hand to that special (and secret) recipe ever since.

The pudding in question is made on puff pastry topped with a layer of seedless strawberry jam and finished with a soft set custard of eggs, sugar and almonds.

Bakewell Tart

The tart, on the other hand, came later – probably in the early 1900s. It has a base of sweet shortcrust pastry, which is then layered with seedless strawberry jam and finished with a frangipane sponge filling of eggs, almonds and sugar. It can either be topped with flaked almonds or iced with a fondant that tastes absolutely nothing like Mr Kipling’s version.

The recipe I use is made with raspberries and raspberry jam. It comes from Paul Hollywood’s British Baking and is lovely as a dessert (with a drizzle of custard or cream), or as it is with a cup of tea.

Normally it would have flaked almonds on the top, but as you can see, mine doesn’t – quite simply because I thought I had almonds in the pantry – until it came time to scatter them on the top of the tart and I realised I didn’t. Hey ho.

Those of you who have read Escape To Curlew Cottage will know that this featured in the Fenwyck episode of Time For Tea – although it was served with some thin lemon icing drizzled over the top.

There’s nothing difficult about this recipe – you can (and I do) make the pastry in a food processor. The only real pressure point is with adding the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar. To stop it from curdling, just make sure your eggs and the butter are both at room temperature, beat the eggs in well after each addition and, if it does separate, beat in a spoonful of the flour/meal and it should be fine.

Okay, without further faffing, here’s the recipe.

What you need

For the pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 medium
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp ice-cold water

Frangipane Filling

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds/ almond meal
  • A drop of almond extract (optional)
  • 100g raspberry jam
  • 100g raspberries
  • 20g flaked almonds

Equipment

  • A 36x12cm loose-bottomed rectangular tart tin or 23cm round tart tin, greased

What you do with it

For the pastry

  • Blitz the flour, almond meal, icing sugar and butter together, then add the liquid and blitz until it comes together. 
  • If you can’t be bothered getting the food processor out, mix the flour and icing sugar in a large bowl, add the butter and rub it in with the tips of your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the egg, water, and lemon juice together and stir into your floury buttery mix with a knife. As the dough comes together, knead it gently until it forms a smooth ball.
  • Whichever method you use, wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for at least 15 mins.
  • Heat the oven to 200C.
  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick and line your tart tin. Leave the excess pastry over-hanging the edge – you can fix this up later. 
  • Line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with baking beans (or dried beans) and bake blind for 12-15 minutes. It should be dry to the touch. Remove the paper and beans and pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes until lightly coloured.
  • Now you can trim the pastry and turn the oven down to 180C.

For the filling

  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. I use a stand mixer, but handheld beaters are fine too. Beat the eggs in one at a time and stir in the flour, almond meal and almond extract.
  • Spread the jam over the base of the pastry, scatter over the raspberries, and spoon over the frangipane mix, spreading it evenly.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then scatter over the flaked almonds before baking for another 15 minutes until beautifully golden.
  • Let it cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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