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“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.”
― David Walliams, Mr. Stink
Everyone knows that we Brits like tea. According to research carried out by British charity Contact the Elderly, the average Brit consumes 876 cups of tea per year, roughly equivalent to two bathtubs full. Perhaps less well known is the fact that we often like our tea with a bit of cake.
British desserts may not enjoy the international renown of French patisserie, but you will find that they are strategically designed to pair perfectly with tea. None more so than this little Derbyshire delicacy, the Bakewell tart. As with many British dishes, its origins are murky, but there is general agreement that it first made an appearance in the early 19th century. It may or may not have been the product of a cook’s mistake. If so, it was a happy accident. The Bakewell tart, named for the Peak District market town where it was born, is a delightful combination of sliced almonds, frangipane, and raspberry jam.
The Bakewell is sometimes made with an industrial layer of fondant icing on top, but I much prefer this stripped down version, which allows the almonds and raspberry to shine. Go on then, put the kettle on…
For the shortcrust pastry
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (8 oz), cut into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- seedless raspberry jam
- ¼ cup of sliced almonds
For the frangipane (almond batter)
- 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons (7oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup superfine (caster) sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup of self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 4 eggs, beaten
- Cut butter into pieces. Place flour, salt, and butter into into food processor and pulse until ingredients are well blended and mixture is crumbly.
- Add water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing between spoonfuls.
- Give a final pulse until pastry comes together in a ball in the food processor.
- Remove the ball and knead a few times, then pat into a flat disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- While pastry is chilling, make the frangipane.
Combine ingredients and mix with an electric beater or in a food mixer until thoroughly blended.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove pastry from refrigerator and on a floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch round.
- Butter a 9-inch pie dish.
- Place the rolled crust in the pie dish, line with parchment paper, fill with pie weights, and bake for 10 minutes.
- When the pastry is partially baked, take it out of the oven, and remove paper and weights.
- Cool until no longer piping hot, approximately 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
- After crust has cooled, place a thin layer of raspberry jam over the bottom of the crust.
- Pour the frangipane mixture on top of the jam layer, making sure it is evenly distributed.
- Decorate the top of the tart with sliced almonds.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve at room temperature or while still slightly warm.
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