Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bakewell Tart - An English Sweet for St. George's Day

Bakewell Tart, or Bakewell Pudding as it was originally known, is named after the market town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, where the recipe originated in 1860. A Bakewell Tart is a shortcrust pastry base, spread with strawberry or raspberry jam, and topped with a flourless "sponge" mixture made with eggs, sugar, butter, and ground almonds. I've found numerous stories about how the recipe was accidentally created by an inexperienced cook at the Rutland Arms Hotel (then the White Horse). Some say the cook reversed a recipe by putting the jam into the pastry shell before the sponge mixture or accidentally left out the flour from an almond sponge recipe, but most seem to agree that the cook was asked to make a large jam tart with a rich shortcrust pastry but left out the eggs and sugar from the pastry and then added them on top. Whatever the true story is, the result was a great success!

I wanted to make Bakewell tart for the What's For Pud? St George's Fest (courtesy of Becks & Posh and Jam Faced) because my Grandmother loved it and would often make this as a dessert. I used a traditional recipe from British Cooking: A Complete Guide to culinary practice in the British Isles Edited by Lizzie Boyd. The recipe is not the one my grandmother used. She used to make a simple sponge (with flour) with almond essence and a little lemon juice for the top, which was also delicious. The traditional recipe produces a much richer, heavier tart. I dropped an egg from the original recipe (as our eggs are so large these days). The pastry recipe made almost twice the amount I needed, so I have leftovers to work with. Next time, I'd add a squirt of lemon juice to the "sponge" because I missed that flavor. Some recipes used puff pastry for the base - I used a sweet shortcrust, but a plain (no sugar) or rich (with sugar and eggs) shortcrust can also be used.

Bakewell Tart is delicious hot or cold, served with a nice cup of tea. But, if you want to dress it up, top it with freshly whipped cream and lemon zest, or serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Shortcrust Pastry:
8 oz plain flour
4 oz butter, cut into small cubes
2 oz sugar
milk to bind

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix well. Add just enough milk to bind the pastry together to create a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 30 minutes.

Strawberry or Raspberry Jam (or any red jam you enjoy)

3 eggs (orig. recipe called for 4)
4 oz sugar
4 oz butter, melted and slightly cooled
4 oz ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 400. Butter an 8 inch tart pan (with a removable bottom, if you have one). Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow. Add the slightly cooled butter, stirring all the time. Add the ground almonds.

Roll out your pastry and line your pan. Cover the bottom of the pastry with jam. Pour the topping on top of the jam and spread with a knife until even. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the filling is set. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely tart, Catherine. And such a pretty plate! I'm amazed at how much I'm learning about desserts that are new to me thanks to this event. Who says the British don't know how to cook or bake!

11:02 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Ivonne,

Thanks for your comments. The plate is Royal Albert Old Country Roses, my gran's favorite.

This has been a great event. I'm not really a dessert person but now I have a bunch of recipes to make!

1:19 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

What a wonderufl dessert! Looks beautiful and I have always admired that pattern.

2:14 PM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...


4:19 PM  
Blogger Bron said...

Gorgeous Bakewell Tart!
I love the Royal Albert pattern too, a true classic.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Alanna Kellogg said...

"Old Roses", yes? I've intended to make a bakewell tart for the longest time ... thanks the inspiration!

5:14 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out Fran's Banana Coconut pie and Bron's Battenberg - awesome!

Alanna - so good to hear from you. I hope you're going to come back to Veggie Venture - I do miss it!

1:16 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I LOVE bakewell - its one of my favourites of all, and I made one too, on Sunday. I had some leftovers and I have been keeping them all to myself. It's been the best breakfast all week!
It seems just to get better as it ages.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Sam,

Your spread looked incredible - happy eating!

8:30 PM  

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