Bakewell slices or Bakewell tarts are very popular all throughout the UK. They were named after the Derbyshire town of Bakewell. The tart is a variation of the Bakewell pudding. They consist of a shortcrust pastry case, also known as a pate sablee, and are filled with a layer of jam, and frangipane, and are usually topped with flaked almonds or glacé icing. The ones topped with the glace icing are known as Cherry Bakewells, since they are also topped with candied cherries. Today, it is made with an almond custard rather than frangipane or an Italian filling made with ground almonds, eggs, butter, and sugar. Bakewells are usually small, designed as individual portions. Bakewell tarts, on the other hand, are generally 8-9 inches across and designed to be shared in slices. Bakewell tarts are traditionally served at High Tea in Britain and throughout the UK. Most people do not make their own, but purchase the ones that are commercially made. Of course I did not know this until AFTER I made it, but where is the fun in buying it when I can easily make it myself?! 🙂 They are not difficult to make, just a little time consuming. They are definitely worth all the time and effort put into it making them though. I sure got a great hand and arm workout while making them, that’s for sure. 🙂
The recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I had blackberry jam and used that instead. You can use any kind of jam you like. If my dad were still around, he would be asking for them with strawberry jam. These only require a few simple ingredients too. The recipe is simple, but they are labor intensive.
The story goes that Mrs Greaves, the landlord of the White Horse Inn, left instructions to her cook to make a jam tart. Instead of stirring the almond paste and eggs into the pastry as instructed, the cook spread the mixture on top of the tart. When cooked, it set like an egg custard, and the resulting pudding proved very popular with visitors to the inn. No one knows exactly when it was created, but it was created somewhere between 1820 and 1845, when it first appeared in a cookbook called Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families.
Make the almond crust first, then let it set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to set before pressing the dough into the baking pan.
The Pate Sablee
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBSP flour
1/3 cup either ground almonds or almond flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick + 3 TBPS room temperature butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
Mix the flour and either ground almonds or almond flour and sugar together with the cubed butter by mashing everything together with your fingertips, until it resembles fine sand.
Then add the egg yolk, again with your finger tips, until it forms into a dough ball. It takes a while, and it seems like it is not all going to mesh together, but have patience and keep working with it. It will eventually come together. Once it does, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to complete the slices, preheat the oven to 325* F or 170* C. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let rest for about 15 minutes. Then start pressing it into a 13×9 baking pan. It takes time, and again, it seems like it will not cover the whole pan, but again, have patience. It will. Make sure you get the dough to go up the sides of the pan too.
You can do this one of two ways at this point. You can bake it with some baking beans for about 15 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it set or you can bake it all at once when it is finished. I prefer to bake it all at once. I find the results are the same, plus I find the custard usually takes longer to cook and if you keep the tart in for too long to allow the custard to cook thoroughly, the dough tends to burn. But I leave you the option to do it however you like.
The next step is to spread a light layer of the jam evenly over the dough. If you prebake the dough, let it rest and cool for about 15 minutes before adding the jam.
1 stick + 1 TBSP butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs + egg white from above
1 3/4 cup either ground almonds or almond flour
Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy, then add the eggs, 1 at a time and beat in between each addition. Then add the almonds and continue to mix until everything is mixed together thoroughly. Spoon it on top of the jam and spread out evenly.
Sprinkle almond slivers evenly across the top of the tart and place in the oven to bake f0r about 30 minutes if you pre-baked the dough or for about 45 minutes if baking it all at once.
Allow the tart to cool completely before adding a dusting of powdered sugar and slicing into it.
All that is left to do is to invite some friends over and and enjoy it together, since this is definitely a dessert that is made to be shared.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.