Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits.
Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling. The version we made was a combination of the two, shortcrust almond pastry with frangipane and jam.
I was inspired by some photos on the Tartlette blog and decided to make a trip to our own San Francisco Farmer's Market for fresh blackberries. I wanted to make my own jam for the tart and found the market berries deliciously ripe and ready to become jam. I have never made jam from scratch and found it fairly easy (even though I really didn't have much of a recipe to follow). No matter the process, the jam turned out well and maybe a little more soupy than jam in a jar.
The Shortcrust pastry is a basic sweet pie crust only it uses eggs and the Frangipane is an almond-sponge. All together the textures form a wonderful dessert. Very interesting - and I believe "Dessert" is key for name here. I served it with unsweetened whipped cream and fresh blackberries. I will definitely be making this a regular dessert because I have a feeling it will very easily change flavors based on seasonal fruit available.
1 pint fresh blackberries
2 T Sugar (more to taste)
Squeeze of lime (lemon or orange may substitute)
Combine berries and sugar in a saucepan over medium until berries 'give up their juice'. This takes between 5-10 minutes. Add citrus juice, continue to cook and stir for an additional 10-15 minutes. At this point the sauce will coat the back of a spoon and the liquid should have cooked down into something that resembles a jam. You may need to add a little cornstarch but is not completely necessary. Set aside to cool. Store excess in the fridge for one week.
225g (8oz) all purpose flour 30g (1oz) sugar 2.5ml (½ tsp) salt 110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better) 2 (2) egg yolks 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional) 15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened 125g (4.5oz) icing sugar 3 (3) eggs 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract 125g (4.5oz) ground almonds 30g (1oz) all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.