Welcome back to my blog. I hope you enjoyed my previous instalment of my autumn of baking. Baking my own bagels was a big success and I hope that I inspired to have a go yourself. If you want to read about how I got on, click here.
This week, as the fireworks die down and the cold sets in, I have taken comfort in filling my kitchen with smells of baking. Comfort food and puddings are always on the top of my list when the weather turns colder, so I decided to rustle up a traditional British dessert that would make me feel warm inside. In this post, I am going to take you through how I went about making a Bakewell Tart. But not only a Bakewell Tart, a Champion Bakewell tart!
I have often found that food is a way of evoking times gone by. Memorable meals and treats bring back happy memories of good times and my parents have a particular memory of visiting Buxton and eating the best Bakewell tart they have ever had. Hearing them reminiscing about it, I got to know all the details about it, from how it was served to the atmosphere of the tearoom where they enjoyed it. Armed with all their information that they could remember, I went to explore the best recipe and where the origins of this tart lay.
Bakewell, a small town in Derbyshire, is where the tart gets its name from. I still find it amusing that a place where a successful bake was created is called ‘Bake Well!’ But having researched a little into the history, I discovered that, as with the tarte tatin (see my post on it here), it was born out of a mistake. The story goes that, in a hurry to make a strawberry jam tart, for some rather distinguished customers at a local inn, the kitchen assistant put the egg mixture on top of the jam instead mixing it in with the pastry. Since then, the tart has evolved into various manifestations from the cherry bakewell, made famous by Mr Kipling, with icing and a glace cherry on the top, to Bakewell Pudding, a jam tart without the almond filling.
There seems to be some confusion over the difference between a Bakewell Pudding or Tart, but both originate from Bakewell and contain jam and pastry. The best recipe I found was from delicious magazine and being called a champion tart, rather made me think it was the recipe, if any, that would bring back my parents’ happy memories of Buxton.
The making of Bakewell Tart is split into three component parts – pastry, jam and almond frangipane filling. Each step takes time so setting aside time for the baking of this classic makes it even more enjoyable. Here is the recipe…
For the pastry
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced (I used salted butter for my recipe as I always bake with it!)
1 large free-range egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
For the filling
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature, beaten
150g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
4 tbsp strawberry jam
2 tbsp flaked almonds
A large mixing bowl
A rolling pin
A wooden spoon
A baking tray
23cm fluted, loose-bottomed tart tin (I used a fluted ceramic flan dish)
How to make the bake
- Sift the flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until it forms fine crumbs. Add the beaten eggs and milk and lightly bring together to form a firm dough, taking care not to handle it any more than necessary. Shape into a disc (which will be easier to roll out later), then chill, wrapped in cling film, for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 along with a baking sheet. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. (ESB Top Tip : The pastry is rather tricky to work with, as it has sugar and eggs in it, so treat it carefully!) Use to line a 23cm fluted, loose-bottomed tart tin. Try not to stretch the pastry when tucking it into the edges. (ESB Top Tip : One of my favourite pastry tips is to take a bit of excess pastry from around the edge and squish into a ball. Then use it to press the pastry into the sides of the tin – see picture above – instead of using your fingers which might tear the pastry.) Trim the excess and prick all over with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes. (ESB Top Tip : I didn’t chill the pastry as I was pushed for time but in the future, I would make the pastry ahead and leave to chill overnight so it would be easier to work with.)
- Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. (ESB Top Tip : To get the paper into all the edges of the tin, scrunch it up into a ball first and then press into the pastry.) Place on the pre-heated baking sheet and blind-bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans/rice and paper. Cook for a further 5 minutes until pale golden and dry on top.
- Make the filling. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time, then fold in the ground almonds and lemon zest.
- Spread the jam evenly across the base of the pastry case, then spoon over the sponge mixture, levelling the surface with the back of the spoon. (ESB Top Tip : This step needs to be taken slowly as the jam and almond frangipane can combine if you rush it. Spoon the almond mix in different places over the jam and spread carefully to cover.) Scatter over the almonds and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden, well risen and just set in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then lift onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
(ESB Top Tip : This tart is perfectly lovely the next day, if you warm it up in the oven, served with a hefty dollop of clotted cream!)
My thoughts about making a Bakewell Tart were that there were a number of steps involved, so taking your time is essential to make the tart as good as it can be. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a bake that I would make day-to-day but one that I would make for special occasions.
However, what did my parents make of it? Their verdict was delightfully positive and did bring back memories of the perfect tart they had had all those years ago, although there was a little discussion as to whether there ought to have been icing or not! The texture of the tart was beautifully light and having not had one before, I would certainly make one another time.
Thank you for coming by my blog today. I am really enjoying sharing my baking experiences with you and don’t forget if you decide to make anything that I have baked, do tag me in your pictures on Instagram @englishsingingbaker #esbautumnofbaking. I’d love to see how you get on.
See you next Wednesday at 1800 GMT for another new bake but until then,
English Singing Baker x