A Tart: Baked Well

The Bakewell tart is a British classic. A sweet shortcrust pastry case layered with jam, and an almond frangipane, and topped off with glacé icing – what’s not to love? Well, I must admit, I’m not a frangipane fan. I love the almond flavour, but the texture of the frangipane is something I have never been fond of. Instead, I prefer to make the tart with an almond sponge in place of the frangipane. This way, the almond flavour is still there, but the texture of the top layer is lighter with a more open texture.

The base of the tart is a sweet shortcrust pastry which is made like standard shortcrust (cold cubed butter rubbed into flour) but with the addition of sugar. Most recipes use caster sugar to sweeten, but I decided to change it up this time and add icing sugar instead. The use of icing sugar results in a pastry which is sweet and buttery, but not grainy – perfect for any tart, and simply heavenly.

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Now we need to talk jam. As our fridge is always well stocked with a variety of different jams, both homemade and shop-bought, I usually take a vote before deciding which one to use. Classicly, the tart contains raspberry jam but I have made various different types from strawberry to even the odd one marmalade filled, all of them equally delicious. This time, black cherry won out – an excellent choice because the contrast in colours between the light golden colour of sponge and the dark purple of the cherry makes for a beautiful slice once the tart is cut.

As for the aforementioned almond sponge, it’s a classic sponge mix with a few tablespoons of the flour replaced with some ground almonds and with the addition of almond extract in place of vanilla. This gives the sponge a more moist texture, as the ground almonds keep it from drying out as quickly as a regular victoria sponge; this means no need to smother it in ice cream to restore that moisture (though don’t let that stop you from doing so anyway).

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Finally the decoration. The usual feather icing glace icing looks beautiful but can be a little overwhelmingly sweet for my taste, let alone a little fiddly. Instead, I finish the tart with an ‘abstract’ drizzle of glacé icing, or simply a dusting of icing sugar. With the sweet aroma of almond wafting throughout the house, it is sure to be simply irresistible.

THE RECIPE

Ingredients

For the Pastry Case:

  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 150g Salted Butter, cold
  • 25g Icing Sugar
  • 1 Egg

For the Jam Layer:

  • 100g Jam (your choice of flavour)

For the Sponge Layer:

  • 2 Large free-range eggs
  • 140g Margarine
  • 140g Sugar
  • 115g Self Raising Flour
  • 25g Ground Almonds
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Almond Extract, optional
  •  OR 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, optional

For this recipe, you will need a 23cm/9in fluted flan tin.

Method

  1. For the pastry: Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the cold, cubed butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs; then stir in the icing sugar.

  2. Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of cold water, mixing to form a soft dough.

  3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of a pound coin (about 0.5cm).

  4. Line the fluted flan tin, pressing the pastry into (and up) the sides of the tin before trimming off the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Transfer to the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 180°c/350 Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 4.

  6. For the jam layer: Take the chilled pastry case and prick the base a few time with a fork.
  7. Spread the jam evenly over the base, and remove any larger pieces of fruit. Set aside.
  8. For the sponge: Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and beat together using an electric hand mixer until smooth.

  9. Spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the pastry case on top of the jam, and smooth it out, making sure its level.
  10. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 25–35 minutes, until golden-brown and it bounces back when pressed.

  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

 

Notes: Adapted from Mary Berry’s Bakewell Tart

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