I make Bakewell tart fairly often as it’s a bit of a family favourite. This weekend we drove through Bakewell en route to the spa town of Buxton. Bakewell is about a 40 min drive away even though we do live in the same county. All the towns in that area are just gorgeous; beautiful stone buildings, verdant hills and deep valleys with rushing rivers and towns full of cute shops. Definitely is a beautiful part of the world and I’m lucky to live not too far away.
Anyway, after that trip of course I had to make a Bakewell the day after. Driving past all the bakeries in the town made us hungry for one. This one uses some of the early blackberries that have just started appearing in my garden. I was just going to make a compote with them to use as the jam layer, but decided to try popping them in whole with some pre-made jam.
What’s in a name and who started it?
Wars get started on less than this: the Bakewell tart vs the Bakewell pudding. I think it’s pretty impossible to go back and find the true original of the Bakewell pudding, but it does seem that ‘pudding’ came first but then both names got used interchangeably. Only in Bakewell is this still contentious. When you get to Bakewell there is the Bakewell Tart Shop and an Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop. Both tarts and puddings must sell well or they’d not still both be there. The tart is what you’d expect, looking a bit similar to my family recipe, but the pudding has a puff pastry and a filling much like an almond custard rather than a frangipane. They taste and feel (to eat) quite different.
Both these shops cite the origins as being a lucky mistake by an inexperienced pastry cook at a local inn, in about 1860. That must be a pile of old rubbish mind, as the earliest written recipe is in a book published in 1845 (Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families – see here for a free ebook version). This implies that the Bakewell pudding/tart is much older than 1845, as it must have been well established as a recipe to have been included in a book.
I’m afraid I don’t like the pudding version, but then I don’t like baked custards either. So it definitely has to be a tart, but we’re not talking the revolting mass market confectioner version. A choice of your favourite jam and fruit, a moist frangipane filling and a scatter of toasted almonds in a pastry case is all that’s really needed. From then on, it can be tweaked and changed to your taste – it’s not uncommon to have a cherry Bakewell with icing, topped by a half glacé cherry (although make it yourself and it won’t be anything like the saccharin pre-packed cakes) or make one with toasted dessicated coconut.
Not really much to comment on about this recipe as Bakewell tart is pretty straightforward! When I bake this, I look for a light spongy top to the filling with a golden hue. This though melts into the jam layer, so while the top is more like a sponge cake towards the base the filling gets slightly gooey and very yummy. If you want to use pearl sugar, I found mine online at BakeryBits.
25cm flan tin or dish
Ingredients for the pastry
Plain flour – 250g
Butter – 130g
Egg yolk – one
Caster sugar – 50g
Milk – a little drizzle
Ingredients for the frangipane filling
Raspberry or strawberry jam – half a jar
Blackberries (or other berries) – large handful
Butter, softened – 140g
Caster sugar – 140g
Ground almonds – 140g
Plain flour – 30g
Eggs – 2
Baking powder – 3/4 tspn
Vanilla paste or seeds – 1/2 tspn
Orange zest – of a whole orange
For decoration –
Flaked almonds – large handful
Pearl sugar – about 1 tbspn
For the pastry case
- Rub the butter and flour together either using your fingertips or put into a mixer with a paddle attachment until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla to bowl and thoroughly incorporate.
- Start to bring the dough together, if it is not wet enough add a tiny bit of milk (adding more little by little if needed) until the dough makes a loose ball.
- Rest in the fridge for 5+ minutes.
- Put the oven on to 160C fan/180C conventional.
- Butter and flour the flan dish.
- Roll out on a mat or floured surface to about 3mm thick. Line your flan dish with the pastry and gently press it into the edges and the flutes. I prefer not to chop off the pastry round the edge of the flan dish at this point, to ensure it doesn’t shrink.
- Prick the base with a fork, line it with the parchment and line with the beans.
- Put in the oven for 15 minutes (I turned the flan after 6 minutes as my oven cooks a little unevenly), then take out, remove the beans and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until the base is a light golden brown.
- With a sharp knife, while the pastry is still warm and flexible, trim off the edges to the top of the dish.
- Leave to cool.
For the frangipane filling
- While the pastry is cooling, make the frangipane by creaming the butter and sugar together until it turns pale.
- Then mix everything else in.
- Once the pastry case is at least fairly cool, cover the base with the jam and dot round the blackberries all over.
- Put the frangipane into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe the filling around the blackberries. You could just spoon it in but you may end up moving the blackberries or creating a lot of air pockets.
- Level out the frangipane using the back of a spoon or a cranked spatula. Try to eliminate any air pockets round the blackberries and ‘press’ the frangipane onto the case at the edges. To to ensure there are no holes through to the jam layer or you will get it bubbling up during cooking and you’ll get dark yammy patches everywhere.
Baking and topping
- Put the tart in the oven for 25 mins. At the 20 minute mark, take out the tart briefly and cover with the flaked almonds and pearl sugar and pop back in for the last 5 min.
- Wait until it’s cold to serve. Lovely on its own or with some cream or ice cream.