This one is a definite crowd pleaser. This recipe will take even the most hard-hearted, cynical non-foodie back to their childhood, standing in Granny’s house with the smell of fresh baking wafting out of a homely kitchen.
This is proper baking, straight from the old school, that Irene Rea of Ravenhill Gardens would have been proud to serve up herself.
Once you smell the sweet buttery, ‘biscuity’ aroma permeating the house whilst this tart is baking, you know there are good times to follow.
It is of course the one and only, Bakewell tart.
What could be better than short crust, crumbly sweet pastry, filled with a thin layer of raspberry jam, topped with a thick buttery frangipani mix of almonds and eggs, with a handful of pistachios added for extra luxury.
Mind you, this tart is not for the faint hearted, there is a ridiculous amount of butter in this entire tart, I definitely wouldn’t recommend going to get your cholesterol checked the day after eating this, but then you will get 16 slices out of it. And anyway I’m not suggesting you should eat this every day, this is a tart to be enjoyed on a special occasion with family and friends.
It should be savoured and enjoyed with complete mindfulness of all the flavours and textures. After a Sunday roast or at a family picnic I think would be two ideal occasions to produce this tart, but lots of strong tea is required to wash down the rich buttery jammy goodness!
This is a recipe I’ve tweaked from Jamie Oliver, but the method he gives for lining your tart tin is pure genius. I don’t know about anyone else who has ever tried to roll out sweet butter crust pastry in one piece to line a tart tin, but life is too short, it always seems to break up around the edges, I start to sweat and before you know it the pastry has become too warm and turns into a sticky pile of putty. I can never get the pastry as thin as I’d like when I roll it out and there’s nothing worse than having a thick under cooked soggy bottom to your tart. A soggy bottom is a big ‘no no’ and is hugely frowned upon amongst bakers.
How sad it is that a grown man of 31 with a fondness for Polynesian tattoos and Led Zeppelin gains an overwhelming sense of achievement because his pastry is thin, crisp and crumbly with not a soggy bottom in sight! Do I know how to party or what?
It’s so much easier to form the pastry dough into a fat thick sausage and then simply slice thin slivers of the pastry off with a sharp carving knife, and then lay the slivers into a buttered tart tin, pushing them together with floured fingers to make sure there are no gaps. This way you ensure a nice thin base. After a few tarts you’ll have the knack down to a tee, and pastry won’t seem such a fuss. It really isn’t, if I can make my own successful pastry then anyone can, and lets face it, homemade is always going to taste better than shop bought. Forget about Mr Kiplings, make your own!
The Bakewell tart is a classic for a reason, it’s been around in some form or another since the Medieval times, so why not give this classic the treatment it deserves by making this family size version and only give it to the people who deserve it.
For those about to bake, I salute you!
For the pastry (enough for two 28cm tart cases)
250g butter unsalted
200g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
500g plain flour
Zest of 1 lemon
4 egg yolks
4-6 tbsp of water
For the filling
350g of blanched whole almonds
300g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
3 whole free range eggs
1 handful of whole shelled pistachios
To make the pastry cream the butter, icing sugar and salt in a food processor, then pulse in the flour vanilla extract, lemon zest and egg yolks. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, pour the mix into a large mixing bowl and add the cold water. Using a knife bring the mix together with the cold water, adding a little more water if needed until the mix comes together in a ball of dough.
Lightly flour the dough and pat into a thick sausage shape, wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
Butter your tart case well and now you can start to line the case with your pastry. Slice off very thin slivers of pastry length ways. Place the slivers of pastry all around the tart case, pushing the pieces together and up the sides of the case as well. Once the tart case is completely lined with no gaps, put it back into the fridge for another hour.
After the hour now it’s time to bake the pastry blind. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with dried beans and bake for about 15 minutes at 180 degrees C.
After 15 minutes remove the greaseproof paper, give the pastry a quick brush with egg white and place back into the oven for one minute. Allow the pastry case to cool. The egg wash will seal your pastry avoiding a soggy bottom.
To make the filling for the Bakewell tart grind up the whole almonds in a food processor until fine, but still with some texture and put into a bowl. Blend the butter with the caster sugar until light and creamy. Add this to the almonds with the lightly beaten eggs and fold until completely mixed. Stir in the pistachios and place in the fridge to allow the mix to firm up for about an hour.
To finish the tart spread a couple of table spoons of good quality raspberry all over the pastry, then pour in the almond mixture and spread evenly into the tart. Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of flaked almonds over the top of the tart and place into a hot oven at 180 degrees C to bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until the tart has become golden brown.
Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream and a cup of tea.