Thursday, June 29, 2006

How to Make Bakewell Tarts

Moist, crumbly, rustic and so, so delicious,
especially if you are an almond-loving type of person.

photograph picture how to make recipe for english/british bakewell tarts

Blog save our gracious Tart
Long live our noble Tart
Blog save our Tart.
nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah,
Send her victorious,
Bakewell is glorious,
Long to weigh over us
Blog save our Tart!

After reading an article in the Independent, (expired unless you want to fork out a pound to read it from the backlogs), about the decline in popularity of certain British foods, Andrew from Spittoon took it upon himself to try and save the Bakewell Tart from extinction. The tarts made the list of endangered species due to reports of a decline in sales of Mr Kipling's Cherry Bakewells which I honestly don't give a toss about. I couldn't care less if I never ate another one of those machine-made monstrosities for as long as I live. Mr Kipling's production-line Bakewells deserve to be extinct. Let 'em die out, I say, with their thick, pale, mealy pastry, their measly spread of jam and their miniscule cake centre laden down by a deep, sticky white fondant topped with an ungainly glace cherry. If Mr Kipling made his Bakewells more like Jamie Oliver's, I can assure you he would be worrying about being able to meet demands, not declining sales.

photograph picture how to make recipe for english/british bakewell tarts
Clockwise from top left: baking blind, June Taylor's fabulous strawberry conserve with rose geranium, the tarts filled with the frangipane, a teaspoon of conserve in the bottom of each pastry cup.

I have made Bakewell Tarts on this blog twice before, each time using Jamie's recipe as a guide and thereafter adapting it slightly, until now I have a method which is still his at heart, but even better.

Usually I make one big tart, but this time I decided to adapt the recipe to make individual tarts so they could be more easily and elegantly presented as gifts to several different friends, as well as my downstairs neighbour. Planning to give most of the Bakewell away negates the need to exercise restraint, particularly useful if you care about your waistline. But be sure to save a little bit for yourself!

First off, the pastry. The original recipe for Jamie's pastry works well, is easy to manage and is very forgiving. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, especially if you lack pastry confidence and this is your first time making the tart. That said, this time round, I actually used a pate sucree recipe that I found in The Cook's Book for no other reason that it's my personal favourite type of pastry. Using pate sucree is totally unnecessary since it includes ground almonds and sugar, ingredients that are abundant in the filling anyhow, so unless you have an incredibly sweet tooth, Jamie's less decadent dough is probably the way to go.

I buttered my muffin tin well, rolled out the chilled pastry, cut into circles then lined each tin with dough. I then popped the tray into the freezer for half an hour to chill before lining each pastry-case with parchement paper and a few pie weights to bake blind in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.

A teaspoon of jam is added to the base of each pastry shell before the frangipane topping is added. In his book, Jamie's Dinners, he recommends using top quality jam. Lucky for us, here in the Bay Area, top quality jam is a doddle to get hold of, thanks to June Taylor, British goddess of jam-making. Check out her wares at The Still Room. So far I have made Bakewells with her strawberry conserve, her boysenberry conserve and her strawberry/geranium conserve. Naturally, all of them worked out superbly.

The main difference between Jamie's recipe and my adaption of it, is the amount of butter. I think he calls for too much of it. The first time I made it, I had butter running everywhere and I ended up cooking it for three times as long to try and dry it out a bit. I have found that by reducing the amount of butter by just 5 tablespoons Jamie's recipe works much better and is still deliciously moist. I also add a teaspoon of almond extract to the frangipane to enhance its almondness. This tip is especially useful if you use less falvourful pre-ground almonds instead of grinding them yourself.

Adapted Frangipane Filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
12 oz ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 fresh, free-range farm eggs, lightly beaten together

to finish:
flaked almonds

- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
- Fold in the eggs, extract and almonds until well blended
- Fill your pie up to the top of the pastry shell with the frangipane
- Sprinkle top of your tarts with almond flakes
- Bake in a 325F for at least 40 minutes until firm to the touch with a golden brown crust.

A note about the filling: This recipe produces a lot of filling. Maybe, even too much for your pie tin to cope with as foodaholic recently found out. I recommend using a deeper pie dish, like this one. Rather than over-fill, bake any excess filling mixture in a separate ramekin or souffle dish. The result is a delicious crustless almond pudding that makes a fantastic breakfast when gently warmed and then served with jam.

Blog Save our Tart!

Links, Resources and Further Reading

Bay Area Resources:
Quality Jam | by June Taylor
Organic Butter | Straus Creamery
Fresh Farm Eggs | Marin Sun Farms
Flaked Almonds | Lagier Ranches

Other Resources:
When Sam | met Jamie Oliver and he called her "sweetpea"
Almond Extract | Star Kay White
Andrew's | Almondless, strictly traditional Bakewell
Baking for Britain | A brilliantly informed Bakewell Post.
Alanna's | Rhubarb Bakewell
Helene's | Bakewell Tart
Foodaholic | Tries Jamie's Recipe
The Recipe Book | Jamie's Dinners
The Old Foodie | On Baked Puddings (and other things)
Found on Flickr | Jamie's Bakewell Picture
Leite's Culinaria | reproduces Jamie's original recipe here
Bakewell Tarts | By English Pastis, Caper Berry Gravy, Sarah and fellow Bay-Area Brit, Catherine.

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: The Mystery Vegetable

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How to Make Bakewell Tarts


  • At 29/6/06 13:57, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    "A doddle"? Heh.
    I always assumed (erroneously, I learned, while you and Monkey Gland were hosting the British Puds event) that Bakewell was just a lame brand name, like Little Debbie Snack Cakes or Hostess... Then I found out it's a venerable town with a genuine venerable recipe. (Doubters, go see .)
    So, yeah, preserve history!

  • At 29/6/06 14:48, Blogger RadiationWatch said…

    Mmm, frangipani. I used to just scoop it out and throw away the crust. Disgusting eh.

  • At 29/6/06 14:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good golly, those look delicious. I could use one right now as a late afternoon, pre-dinner, pick-me-up snack ;)

  • At 29/6/06 14:52, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    they look so yumy I am drooling here. I agree with your comments on Mr Kipling; however I recall you and Becs begging me to buy them when you were young( probably more the apple pies)

  • At 29/6/06 15:20, Blogger deborah said…

    We have a Kipling brand in Australia too... mediocre and over sweet products. yuck! You know, I've never had a bakewell tart before... but I may just give this one a go some time soon.

    Its also good to see another Jamie Oliver fan... his recipes are fantastic

  • At 29/6/06 15:46, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    I am lucky enough to have been the recipient of one of these lovely tarts. It was delicious. And Sam, the suggestion to warm it up was right on -- so good.

  • At 29/6/06 17:26, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…

    Are you available for hire? What would the cost be on, let's say, 200?

    I feel the luckiest of all to have received this leetle present. So few people bake for me! These are bloody gorgeous and brill!

    (I have no idea why you might need a pastry class-- the crust on these babies is just right.)

    thank you so much.

  • At 29/6/06 18:57, Blogger Catherine said…

    Love the mini-versions! Excellent diet idea!

    I have to say, I've had bad experiences with pre-ground almonds and don't think I'll ever try using them again.

    Mr. Kipling's Cherry pies? I don't remember cherry, but I have fond memories of apple pies.

    non-dieters - pour some unwhipped heavy cream on bakewells - trust me.

  • At 30/6/06 00:11, Blogger Delphine said…

    I couldn't read until the end.

    I felt my habit of not eating sweets AND my diet would be in great danger if I did.

  • At 30/6/06 08:32, Blogger Alanna Kellogg said…

    Gott check the rhubarb supply: going to pick some more now! Love the idea of baby bakewells ...

  • At 30/6/06 09:57, Blogger Nic said…

    I love the mini tarts, Sam. Delicious!

  • At 30/6/06 12:12, Blogger julie said…

    Hello, first-time commentor (I think)!

    They look fab! I have meant to make a bakewell tart forever...

  • At 30/6/06 12:56, Blogger Sam said…

    cookiecrumb - Mr Kipling's the brand name and we don't like him. But we do like the homemade Bakewell, oh yes we like it very much indeedy.

    Maki - you can bake this without the crust - I've tried it and it works a treat and it is delcious and much easier if you don't have to make the pastry. Consider it ;) I more of a fan of filling than crust too, which is why I use a really thin pate sucree which I DO like.

    Luisa - I wish I could lob one over to you, but I don't think I can throw quite as far as NY.

    Mum! sssh, now, please. it's just because we didn't know any better.

    Saffron - sorry Mr Kipling got to you too, down under.

    Jenn - I am so happy you liked it.

    Andrew - I don't see why you couldn't have a stab at making it yourself?

    Shuna - I need a brisee class, not a sucree. Brisee is where my problems lie. I am so happy to have the stamp of approval of a pastry chef. I felt a little bit brave giving you one in the first place. phew.

    catherine - i am going to try and grind my own almonds next time. or get the ones from the market. I totally agree with the cream rec. Oh yes! just imagine clotted cream, if only we could.

    Del - I will get you someday soon.

    AK - I have frozen a few too, i will be interested to see how they turn out.

    Nic - thank you.

    Julie - the time is now - Blog save our tarts!!!
    Thank you for coming to comment!

  • At 2/7/06 06:45, Blogger Pille said…

    Sam - I used Jane Grigson's recipe, which was lovely, but next time I'll do mini versions, too - your mini Bakewells look so much cuter than my large pudding!

  • At 5/7/06 03:58, Blogger Jeanne said…

    I have to admit that I'd never heard of a Bakewell tart until I came to this country - clearly the Victorians who colonised my neck of the woods weren't from Derbyshire!! And until this month, the only tarts I'd seen were Mr K's. Never bought one as they looked inedibly sweet. But I was pleasantly surprised by the ones I made (and the other 2 I sampled at the Bakewell Tart Taste-off at Henley!). I used a non-traditional Nigella recipe for mine and they were slices rather than a tart or mini-tarts. But MAN they were delicious!

  • At 2/9/06 19:13, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, how durable are these? I assume you can make them, say, a day ahead without them suffering unduly?

  • At 3/9/06 12:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sean - i think the tart is even better the next day.

    and even after that, a little warm up in the oven might help.

    unfortunately they never stick around long enough for me to test their longevity.

  • At 22/6/08 09:00, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am so glad I read your blog. I was just about to make Jamie Oliver's Bakewell Tart, when I stopped in my tracks as soon as I started weighing out the butter. I knew something was wrong and went to the web. Thanks for the tip.

  • At 20/8/08 09:52, Blogger crazy canuck said…

    I found a recipe in an old Canadian cookbook for "Frangipan Tarts" which is very similar to Bakewell tarts. The difference is that you do no prebake the pastry, you do no use ground almonds but almond essence only, and you use rice flour instead of regular flour. The result is YUMMY, and not too sweet.

  • At 22/12/08 13:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I make a very similar recipe..

    3/4 c sugar
    3/4 c butter
    3/4 c rice flour
    1 tsp almond extract
    2 eggs

    use a sweet pastry, line pastry tins, place approx a tsp of raspberry jelly in the btm of uncooked pastry then top with filling and bake until firm approx 20 - 25 mins at 350 degrees

  • At 13/2/09 16:19, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Does this filling come out spongy/cakey, or is it more dense?


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