I have a confession to make... I love nuts!
I love walnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts... all kinds of nuts! BUT... my favourite has to be the humble almond. Almonds are so shy in taste and flavour, yet have such a sweetly satisfactory after taste. They leave a scrumptious marzipany flavour in your mouth and their shape just pleases me so - symmetrical and tear drop like. Lovely! (Shocking to think that as a child I hated nuts... at Christmas I used to bite all of the chocolate off of them and place them back in the box they came from... what a delightful child I was!)
Anyway, with such a confession for the humble almond, I thought it was about time that I actually did something with them (instead of gorging on a whole packet of them, on their own!) and what recipe is more perfect to express my love of almonds than the classically traditional Bakewell Tart (please note that I have said, "Bakewell Tart" NOT "Cherry Bakewell" ... no, none of that shop bought Mr Kipling stylee stuff).
I used my 22cm loose bottomed flan dish for this recipe.
175g Plain Flour 120g Butter
2 tbsp Caster Sugar 120g Caster Sugar
115g Butter 2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk 60g Self Raising Flour
2 tbsp Cold Water 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
A pinch of Salt 100g Ground Almonds
3 tbsp Raspberry Jam 3 drops of Almond Essence/Extract
Icing sugar and water mixture and scattered flaked almonds on the top.
1. Sift the flour, sugar, salt into a large bowl and add the diced butter.
2. Using your finger tips, mix the ingredients until they resemble bread crumbs.
3. Beat the egg yolk with the cold water and pour into the dry ingredients, little by little, mixing as you go. The mixture should soon come together to form a pastry ball. Wrap this in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30mins.
4. Meanwhile, begin to make the filling for the tart. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, ground almonds and almond extract into a large mixing bowl. Beat altogether with a wooden spoon. (This mixture will have the consistency of a thicker than normal cake mix, which will be hard to spread.)
5. Preheat the oven to 180degreesC.
6. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface until it is large enough to fit the size of your flan dish.
7. Gently pick up your pastry (it's very fragile) by flinging it over your rolling pin and press it to fit your dish. Mould the pastry with your fingers to fix any gaps or breaks in the dough. Prick the base all over with a fork.
8. Dollop and spread the jam all over the base. I like quite a thick layer of jam, but make sure it is spread evenly to prevent burning/under cooking/soggy bottomed pastry!!
9. Now, this is the tricky bit!! What you have to remember about jam is that it has an extremely high sugar content and therefore burns VERY easily. You need to spread the filling mixture all over the jam, without mixing the two together. The easiest way to do this, I found, was by spooning a little bit of the mixture on top of the jam at a time, using a plastic spatula. Take your time with this.
10. Once you are happy with how your Bakewell Tart looks, place it in the oven to bake for about 40mins or until the top is golden, springy but firm to the touch and the pastry is crispy.
11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
12. Once the Bakewell Tart is completely cool, remove is from the flan dish and decorate with icing and flaked almonds.
Hands down, this is the BEST thing I have EVER made!! Absolutely gorgeous and to be honest, I was sooo shocked with how well it turned out! The pastry was bang on the correct thickness and crispiness, the jam was the perfect amount and the soft almondy filling was just DEEEEE-LIGHTFUL! With so many tricky elements to this dessert (in particular the testing pastry!) there was no way I was expecting it to turn out that well, but O MY WORD!!!
Admittedly, the icing doesn't look too great, but I didn't want the tart to be completely covered in icing. Overall, I am very happy with how the tart looked, as I think when sliced and served, it actually looks quite professional (not as rustic and 'home made' looking as most of my creations!) and could easily be sold at a school bake sale or something!
I took half of the Bakewell Tart in to school for the lovely ladies and it went down a treat! Everyone seemed to enjoy it and there was not a single crumb left. (I did have to explain the difference between a Bakewell Tart and a Cherry Bakewell to some of the 'cherry phobics' among the group though!)
This was a proper Bakewell Tart. One in which I think I will be baking on a regular basis and hopefully one that will be enjoyed for many more years to come.