Cherries and almonds go hand in hand; their flavours combine seamlessly. Despite not being entirely traditional, this recipe for Cherry Bakewell Tart is even more tantalising than the original. And for those of you a little tentative about attempting what appears to be a complex bake; ignore those feelings. It is so simple, you’ll not know why you didn’t try it sooner.
With everyone wanting a piece of the proverbial pie, you’ll often find that the histories behind many of Britain’s regional favourites are storied and hotly contested. The origins of the much-loved Bakewell tart – or Bakewell cake – are much the same. No one really knows where its story begins.
These days, it is widely assumed to have originated in the eponymous market town of Bakewell, Derbyshire. A romanticism if ever one existed. Unfortunately, such origins are unlikely, given that recipes for the Bakewell tart and earlier Bakewell pudding pre-date 19th Century stories regarding the town. Either way, the tart has become something of a successful marketing campaign for the area.
Strictly speaking, raspberry is the jam most frequently used in recipes for Bakewell tart. And while the sharpness of raspberries does add some interest to the classic tart, cherry is the jam better suited to the flavour of almonds.
But whichever jam you choose to grace your thin, crisp shortcrust pastry, just make sure that you spread it liberally. Too little jam and its flavour may well get lost in translation; two tablespoons is sufficient for a tart of this size.
For me, part of the enjoyment of ground and flaked almonds is the subtle flavour they endow on a dish. The flavour of frangipane should be delicate, almost in support of its light and airy texture. The point of all this? Almond extract.
Many recipes for Bakewell tart include almond extract. It’s unnecessary, unless you want your frangipane to taste of cheap supermarket marzipan. Adding additional flavour only serves to disguise the buttery shortcrust and complementary cherry jam. The practice is unfathomable.
Britain is a country full of highly regarded regional specialities. And because they’re usually very simple and quick to make it’s worth trying as many as possible. Cornwall, for instance, has its hevva cake, while sticky toffee pudding and greengage tart are well-loved, if not tied to one specific area. And though not part of Britain, Ireland boasts a rather delightful porter cake…
Cherry Bakewell Tart
for the pastry:
- 150g plain flour
- a pinch of salt
- 75g cold butter, cubed
- 1-2 tbsp cold water
for the filling:
- 2 tbsp cherry jam
- 100g butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 25g plain flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 40g flaked almonds
for the icing:
- 80g icing sugar
- luke warm water
- To make the pastry, rub the cold butter into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add just enough water to bring the pastry together into a soft, malleable dough. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until large enough to line your tart case. It should be only a few millimetres thick. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C(fan).
- Carefully transfer the dough into the case and press, using a spare piece of dough, into every corner of the case. Do not trim.
- Line the pastry with foil or baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 12 minutes, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, gently melt the butter and sugar together in a pan and beat through the almonds, flour and eggs.
- Once the pastry is ready, spread it with the cherry jam and top with the prepared frangipane. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown.
- Set the tart aside to cool for 10 minutes. Prepare your icing by mixing the icing sugar with enough water to create a paste thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Drizzle over and serve.
All things considered, this recipe for an almost traditional cherry bakewell tart should set you back no more than £2.60 – not bad for 8 slices of heaven.