It’s not really obvious why the picturesque Derbyshire market town of Bakewell (population 3,949 at the last census) should have become known as the home of England’s most famous tart. The dessert that bears its name didn’t even start out as a tart – the “Bakewell Pudding” starts to appear in recipes in the early 1800s (there are arguments as to exactly when) and then morphs into its present pastry-fruit-and-frangipane form around the turn of the 20th century. Perhaps it’s just down to the name.
The ubiquitous mass-produced “iced cherry Bakewell” would not make a fit subject for a blog post. But Nigella Lawson’s classic How to Eat has a fabulous recipe for Bakewell Tart. It may owe rather more to French patisserie than to what you’d find in a pastry shop in the village, but it really captures the Bakewell Tart’s almond-and-raspberry loveliness and has been a favourite in my family for years. I’ve changed a few things – mine is a little less sweet and the pastry technique is slightly different (actually based on another recipe in the same book), which I find makes more elastic pastry that’s less prone to tearing. But if you buy the book and make the original, that will work perfectly well too.
If your raspberries aren’t all that sweet (this is December, so mine very much weren’t), you’ll want some extra raspberry jam or, as I’ve done here, use some raspberry coulis made from raspberries cooked down with a bit of sugar and cooled (I happened to have some left over from a previous dessert).
- 200g plain flour (preferably OO grade), plus more for rolling
- 40g icing sugar
- 60g ground almonds
- 60g butter, cold
- 2 Eggs
- Juice of half a lemon
- Put the flour, icing sugar and ground almonds into the bowl of your food processor.
- Cut the butter into small cubes (perhaps 5-10mm) and add to the bowl.
- Put the bowl in the freezer for at least half an hour.
- Remove the bowl from the freezer and blitz to a fine, sandy texture.
- Beat together the eggs and lemon juice, add to the bowl and pulse for a short time to blend in.
- Pour the contents onto a surface, bring it together into a ball, knead it a few times, flatten, wrap it in cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
- Grease a tart tin (the quantities here do a 27-30cm tin).
- Flour your board and rolling pin; roll out the pastry to a diameter several centimetres larger than your tin, then line the tin with the pastry.
- Put the tart in its tin back into the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble it.
The frangipane filling
- 3 large eggs
- 180g caster sugar
- 180g ground almonds
- 180g butter, melted
- Put the eggs into the bowl of your stand mixer, setting aside half an egg white for use brushing the pastry.
- Mix the eggs, caster sugar and almonds
- When you’re sure the butter is cool enough not to scramble the eggs, mix it in thoroughly
Putting it all together
- 300g raspberries
- 70g raspberry jam or coulis (omit this if the raspberries are sweet)
- Flaked almonds for sprinkling (I used around 25g)
- Optional: 100ml or so whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 175℃ fan
- Prick the pastry base with a fork
- Brush the base with your reserved egg white: this helps to stop the jam and/or filling seeping into the pastry with the resulting dreaded “soggy bottom”.
- If you’re using the jam or coulis, spread it over as evenly as you can manage.
- Dot the raspberries evenly around the whole of the tart base.
- Pour the frangipane mixture evenly over the tart base and raspberries. You may need to tilt or shake the tart slightly to get everything reasonably level.
- Scatter flaked almonds over the top.
- Bake until golden brown, around 35 minutes.
- Cool and serve. Whipped cream with a dollop of raspberry jam folded lightly through it makes a nice accompaniment.