The Great Bakewell Tart Debate

This weekend was the Bakwell Food Festival. Yeah, yeah I know you all think it’s all about Glasto or Bestival or Wireless but, my friends, you are incorrect. Bakewell is where it is AT. No question about it. And if you don’t believe me, then just ask yourself why those places don’t have a dessert named after them. Exactly.

Anyone who’s spent more than six months in the UK or has as unhealthy an obsession with Northern baked goods as us will know that nothing, nowhere, no how beats a good old slice of mother’s best Bakewell. Rich, crumbly and almondy with a sharp smack of raspberry jam buttery, short, tender-as-the-night pastry…somebody please pass the cream.

But, by FAR the best thing about this cakey, tarty, quirky treat is it’s history. Similarly, depending how far north of Golders Green you are, you will probably have a very different imagining of what exactly constitutes this beloved tea time treat. For some – mostly those in the South – Mr Kipling quickly springs to mind, with little rectangles of silicone sponge and sweeter than saccharine icing. But ask the same question to a Yorkshireman and you will be presented with what looks like an egg custard tart with very….um…shall we say…freeefrom edges. No moulds in sight, this baking comes from the heart.

According to the story at the Old Bakewell Pudding Shop based in the heart of the town, around 1860, the local in called The White Horse was run by a Mrs Graves (I’m imagining a Victorian Bette Lynch, you?). Some customers asked for a strawberry tart and the cook spread the egg mixture on top of the jam, rather than mixing it all through. BOOM, Bakewell pudding was born and we were all much more joyful for it.

Anyone who loves baking though, just like we do, will go weak at the knees for Bakewell, mostly because it offers you infinite kitchen creativity. Don’t have strawberry jam? No matter, try marmalade, or quince jelly, or what about black cherry? Allergic to almonds? Switch them out for pistachios in the frangipane mix and make your Bakewell all Persian. The opportunities are endless (something we LOVE). But to kick start your journey of exploration, here’s one of our fave recipes.

Bakewell Tart from Peyton & Byrne

Sweet Crust Pastry
85g butter softened
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
For the Frangipane filling
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
200g ground almonds
50g self raising flour
100g raspberry jam
50g crushed raspberries
icing sugar to dust 
50g flaked almonds

For the pastry
1/ In a bowl cream the butter, then add the icing sugar, mix until light and fluffy. Then add in the beaten egg yolk and flour, and form a dough. Turn on to the surface and knead for 2 minutes and form into a ball.
2/ Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for an hour before lining a 24cm tart tin.

For the tart
1/ Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well. Add in the ground almonds and flour and mix until well incorporated. 
2/ Remove the tart from the fridge. Spread the jam over the base, and then lay the crushed raspberries on top. Making sure they are spread out. Spoon the frangipane mixture on top and spread over. Do not over fill. 
3/ Scatter the flaked almonds on top and bake. Bake for 30 minutes, then I place a piece of foil over it and let it cook for a further 12-15 minutes, the foil prevents it from over browning. Allow to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar just before serving. 

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