I made a bakewell tart on the weekend, it’s a famous traditional English dessert which consists of a sweet shortcrust pastry, spread with jam and covered with a sponge-like almond filling (known as frangipane).
The Origins of this tart as I found on the internet is this –
In 1820, the owner of the White Horse Inn, (now called the Rutland Arms) in Bakewell, a small market town in Derbyshire, England, left her cook in charge of making a jam tart. The cook, spread the jam on the base and top it with frangipane, instead of mixing the lot prior to topping the tart case. The newly created desert went down rather well with the patrons who declared that it was "baked well". Thus, this tart acquired the name Bakewell, a pun on the town of Bakewell and customers descriptions of it being ‘baked well’!
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
• 225g plain flour, sifted
• 30g caster sugar
• ½ t salt
• 110g butter, cold and diced
• 1 egg yolk, lightly whisked
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons, chilled water
• 125g butter, softened and diced
• 125g icing sugar
• 125g almond meal
• 3 egggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 30g plain flour
• zest of 1 lemon (or an orange), around 1 tablespoon
• Some jam
• flaked almonds and more icing sugar for dusting.
(I would like to be able to say that I used my own homemade jam but I used store bought jam from Fresh Provisions. One day I will try making my own jam. There were many varities of jam to choose from making it a very hard decision to pick which one. In the end I choose this particular jar because it had a checkered lid, it was the defining point of difference for me!)
Combine flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add in the egg yolk, vanilla extra and 1 tablespoon of chilled water. Process until the dough just comes together, adding more chilled water if necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and shape into a disc. Cover with glad wrap and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180C, lightly grease and flour a tart pan (3cm deep, 22 cm base).
Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper until ~4mm thick. Line pan with pastry and trim excess. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
Prick the pastry base with a fork, line it with baking paper and fill it with some pie weights. Blind bake the tart for 15 minutes or until the edges are light golden. Remove the pie weights and baking paper, and bake for another 7-8 minutes or until the base it light golden. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
Beat the butter, icing sugar and lemon rind until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and beat the eggs in one at a time until just combined. Then fold in the flour and almond meal.
Reduce the oven to 160C. Spread the pastry case with jam, then spread the filling over the jam.
Bake for 25 minutes, then take the tart out and scatter flaked almonds all over the top of it and continue to bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown and when a skewer is inserted in the middle it comes out clean.
Cool slightly, then dust with icing sugar.
I have made shortcrust pastry quite a few times now so here are a few tips that I have accumulated about making shortcrust pastry that I would like to share.
- In order to get a flaky, light and crumbly shortcrust pastry it is important to chill, it likes to be cold! Used chilled ingredients (I even put the flour in the fridge before using it) and allow adequate chilling time for resting, and don’t handle the pastry too much as your hands will add warmth to the dough.
- Resting and chilling the pastry makes it easier to handle, prevent cracking when it is rolled out and prevent shrinkage as it bakes.
- When adding water to the dough, be careful to add only enough to bring the mixture from a crumbly dough to one that can be kneaded and rolled easily. To much water in the mix means that the pastry will steam as it cooks, so add small amounts of water gradually until you have achieved the desired result.
- Don’t over process or over knead the dough it as it will develop the gluten which will result in a tough and chewier pastry.
- Take care not to stretch the pastry when placing it in the tart pan because when the pastry bakes, the heat will cause it to shrink down in the pan.