Sunday, December 24, 2006


Tamasin Tart Bake Off: Bakewell Tart

After much correspondence, Freya over at Writing At the Kitchen Table and I decided to do a Tart Bake Off. Not just any old tart, you understand, but one from one of Tamasin Day-Lewis' cookery books. This has prompted much salivation and, sadly, conserternation.

I was intrigued by the sound of the Bakewell Tart from Tamasin Day-Lewis' Tamasin's Kitchen Bible (a fabulous book that Freya recommended to me, by the way) on account of the jam (I chose an organic raspberry jam that I picked up from the farmers' market), bitter almond extract and ground almonds, which I absolutely adore in anything sweet or savoury. I was hesitant to make the shortcrust pastry because I had made it before for my first Quince Tart, but I didn't think much of it because it was too savoury for the quinces. I had intended to make the tart last night, but I had a few too many problems with the pastry. It was pretty hot in the kitchen, and this is not good for shortcrust pastry because it tears easily enough as it is. I think I tried three times to roll out the pastry and it either stuck (no matter how much flour I had on the counter, the rolling pin, and myself) or tore at every pass of the rolling pin. I threw the pastry out and started again tonight. I was miffed because the first time I tried it was successful (and rather breezy at that). Tonight, I made sure the kitchen was nice and cool - the pastry still tore a little bit, but it was easy enough to patch and then pass the rolling pin over again. After that though, the tart was a breeze to make.

Bakewell Tart
(from Tamasin Day-Lewis' Tamasin's Kitchen Bible)

Shortcrust pastry (for a 10" pan)
6.6 oz plain white four
pinch of sea salt
3.3 oz unsalted butter, directly from the fridge
1 teaspoon water, ice cold

Tart filling:
6.6 oz your favourite jam
4.4 oz unsalted butter
4.4 oz sugar
4.4 oz ground almonds
4 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon bitter almond extract
a handful of flaked almonds

For the pastry:
1) Pulse flour, butter and sugar in the blender until combined.
2) Add water.
3) Pulse until pastry comes together in a ball.
4) Refrigerate pastry for at least thirty minutes
5) Roll pastry out on a well floured surface (and on the rolling pin and your hands, too).
6) Line pastry in a pastry shell.
7) Put back in the fridge for at least thirty more minutes.
8) Prick surface with tines of a fork, cover with parchment paper and baking beans.
9) Cook in oven at 375 deg. f. for 15 minutes.

For the filling:
1) Preheat oven to 400 deg. f.
2) Spread a generous layer of jam on pastry base.
3) Melt butter until it smells nutty.
4) Whisk together egg yolks, egg whites, ground almonds, bitter almond extract, and sugar.
5) Pour butter into whisked mixture and combine.
6) Pour mixture over jam and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
7) Strew over flaked almonds, then bake for a further 5 minutes.

Eat while still warm.

Everyone liked this very simple tasting tart. It is perfect on a cold night as it would be at afternoon tea in the Summer. It reminded me of Louise cake, which my mum used to bake regularly when I was growing up. One barely notices the pastry because it is very thin and is really only meant to be there as a vessel of sorts for the glorious almond filling. I might try it with a more adventurous jam next time, say rhubarb and ginger.

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Bakewell Tarts are yummy! I made one once using Quince Jam which worked so well...I made a savoury one, with Anchovies and Spinach - wildly different from yours! I had a slight disaster with the pastry in that I hadn't worked the fat into the flour well enough so it took a little longer to cook....! Still, it tasted great!
Happy Xmas to you and yours and I will email you properly once I get all the seasonal proceedings done with!
Love, Freya x
Freya - I'm so glad that we did the tart bake off. It was a lot of fun (though hair-greying) deciding which tart to start off with. What should we do next? Do you want to pick a book? I'm also keen to try some of Tamasin's "classic cakes" from her fabulous book, Tamasin's Kitchen Classics. I hope Santa was good to you this year :-)
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