Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart

A true British classic, this sweet, moreish tart with layers of pastry, jam and a sponge mixture containing ground almonds is easy to make. I prefer to use short crust pastry for this tart. You could make a sweet pastry, or even try a different jam like cherry or lemon curd.

Pastry Base
450g (16oz) plain flour
125g (4 1/2oz) hard margarine
125g (4 1/2oz) vegetable shortening (I used Trex)
Cold water to mix

7tbsp raspberry jam
175g (6oz) margarine, softened
175g (6oz) caster sugar
3 large eggs
3 drops of vanilla essence
150g (5 1/2oz) ground almonds
75g self raising flour
50g (2 oz) grated almonds

Preheat your oven to 190C/170F fan/Gas 3.

To make the pastry
1  Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Lift the sieve up so that you get as much air as possible into the mixture. Add the margarine and the vegetable shortening (room temperature), cutting it into lumps with a knife. Using just your fingertips, lightly rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. This part of the mixing should be done quickly to avoid the mixture becoming sticky. Add the cold water, a little at a time, working it in with your fingers – the pastry should come away from the bowl cleanly.  Place in a polythene bag or cover with cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This resting time is essential for good pastry as it help it to become more malleable and easier to roll out.

2  When the pastry has rested, flour your working surface and rolling pin and place the pastry on the board. Roll out the pastry and line a 33 x 23cm (13 x 9in) baking tin, allowing the pastry to come up the sides. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, and then place baking parchment on top and weigh it down with rice. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes.

3  Spread jam over the base, working it evenly across the pastry.

To make the filling
1  Soften the margarine, add the caster sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Lightly fold in the ground almonds and the flour.

2  Spread the filling over the jam/pastry base, making sure the mixture is even. Sprinkle with grated almonds, leaving a small amount to be added when the cooking is complete. Bake for 40 minutes, covering loosely with foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes to stop the top browning too much. Decorate with the remainder of the grated almonds. Leave to cool in the tin, and then cut into squares or rectangles.


Bakewell Tart, an accident or a deliberate mistake?
Bakewell Tart has been around for a long time. This classic cake/pudding, from the Derbyshire Dales, consists of sweet pastry shell with a layer of jam and then a sponge layer using ground almonds. The exact origins of this delightful tart seem to differ, but it’s generally accepted that the Pudding, rather than the tart, dates back to Tudor and possibly even medieval times.  One of the most popular stories about how the tart came into existence is that in Bakewell between 1820 and 1860, a Mrs Greaves, the landlady and cook of the White Horse Inn (now called the Rutland Arms), was very busy and left instructions for the undercook to make a flaky, buttery, strawberry jam short crust pastry tart, using eggs and almond paste.  The story seems to vary at this point, but whether the cook decided to do things her way, or she put the jam on top of the egg mixture, or stirred the jam into the egg mixture by accident, we shall never know, but whatever she did cook up was an instant hit, and still is at our family gatherings nearly 200 years later! Worth a try if you are cooking for a large feast. I use short crust pastry and raspberry jam or lemon curd. An easy recipe that can be altered to suit your own family tastes.

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