February Calendar Fun: Bakewell Tart

Sometimes things just don’t taste the way you “see” them in a picture…

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Here we are in March already, and if you remember, I talked about the recipe calendar that I have at my desk, and my plan to prepare the recipe of the month, at the end of each month… At the end of January, I made these cookies, which were absolutely delicious..

February’s recipe featured this Bakewell Tart. I was a little bit excited to try this tart, because in my mind, I was expecting a pecan pie type of deal, but with almonds and raspberry instead, and expected it to be delicious..

As described in the calendar, this tart originated in the English village of Bakewell, as Bakewell pudding. Digging a little more online, I found that there is a Bakewell Tart Shop in Bakewell, and the the tart has been baked in puff pastry since the 1870’s.

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Whether this is true or not, the story starts with a customer ordering a strawberry tart from Mrs. Greaves, who was the landlady and cook of the White Horse Inn, in Bakewell. Supposedly, the cooking assistant forgot to add the strawberry jam to the filling, and at the last minute, spread the jam onto the bottom of the pastry shell and then covered it with the cream filling. Apparently, there is a secret ingredient that only one person knows. Before Mrs. Greaves died, she passed the recipe including the secret ingredient to a Mr. Radford, who before his death, passed it to Mr. Bloomer. I guess the Bloomer family owns (or did own) the Bakewell Tart Shop (wisegeek.com).

And..because it’s a myth, I can’t confirm the story. Sometimes it’s just fun to keep history as is…myth or not.

I just wonder why the cooking assistant didn’t mix the strawberry jam into the filling before she poured it into the pastry. It seems that if she had time to spread it over the bottom of the pastry, there was time to mix it into the filling. But what do I know? Maybe she had a grudge against the customer!

So…the Bakewell Tart..it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t care for the texture, which is a surprise to me, because texture in food isn’t usually a negative factor for me. I’m not exactly sure what the true texture should be, and this could be due to this cook’s error, but it was a little on the thick jelly side. The taste was bland, and quite boring to be honest.   

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With all due respect to those who might love this Bakewell Tart, I just didn’t love it, and was disappointed for sure. I think that this is one of those recipes that you really need to grow up with in order to love it.  Or maybe I was disappointed because I was expecting one thing, but got another..

On a positive note, it’s a very pretty pie, the fresh raspberries and whipped cream were delicious!

Would I make it again? Most likely not, unless I were to come across another recipe that had a little “oomph” to it..

So, what would I do differently? I wouldn’t use puff pastry, but would use a buttery, chopped almond cookie crust instead, and I would bake it in mini tartlet pans rather than a pie plate. I think I’d use more jam, and less of the almond filling, and then top it with chopped toasted almonds. I’d still serve them with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Maybe a drizzle of chocolate…you know, just because chocolate makes everything better…

Stay tuned… I think I’m on to something here!

I’m sure that there is someone who is familiar with this tart, and I’d like to know your thoughts!

Just a quick note: This recipe called for a 7” pie plate. I didn’t have one, so I used a 9” instead, and doubled the recipe. It called for a 30 minute bake time, but I doubled that too, and lowered the temperature from the suggested 400 degrees to 350 degrees. It browned and set beautifully in one hour.

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Bakewell Tart
(As written on my calendar)

225g/8 oz puff pastry
30ml/2 tbsp raspberry or apricot jam
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
115g/4 oz/ 1/2 cup (caster) superfine sugar
115g/4 oz/1/2 cup butter, melted
55g/2 oz/ 2/3 cup ground almonds
A few drops of almond extract
icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
double (heavy) cream, or ice cream, to serve

Preheat the over to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line an 18cm/7 inch pie plate. Trim the edge of the pastry with a knife.

Re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut into strips. Use these to decorate the edge of the pastry case by gently twisting them around the rim, joining the strips together as necessary.

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Prick the pastry case all over, then spread the jam all over the base.

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Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in a bowl until the mixture is thick and pale.  Gently  stir the melted butter, ground almonds, and almond extract into the whisked egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set, and lightly browned.

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Decorate the tart with a little bit of icing sugar before serving it warm or cold with generous dollops of double cream or ice cream.

For those of you who love it… Enjoy!

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