daring bakers: bakewell tart...er...pudding

having signed up to the daring cooks and made both ricotta gnocchi and potstickers, i thought i had better get back on track with the daring bakers challenges, having missed a few.

the june daring bakers' challenge was hosted by jasmine of confessions of a cardamom addict and annemarie of ambrosia and nectar. they chose a traditional (uk) bakewell tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in england.

the reason for the “tart... er... pudding” is down to the rich heritage of this dish and the two main types which exist - the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry and the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds the jam and frangipane, an almondy sponge cake-like filling.

the version we were dared to make was a combination of the two: a sweet shortcrust pastry with a frangipane and jam filling.

so, how did i get on?

pastry always makes me nervous as it is the one aspect of baking which consistently causes me problems. however, this recipe didn’t cause me any trouble at all – no disasters here, woo hoo! there was too much pastry though – i decided to make six tartlets which used up all the filling ingredients but only half the pastry.

the frangipane was also easy - it’s no different to making a cake mixture. as for the jam layer, i didn’t make my own so the only effort required was to choose which flavour to use. i went with strawberry.

the final verdict:

  • would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the daring bakers challenge? yes. i enjoyed the plum bakewell tarts i made previously and it was nice to try a more traditional version.
  • would i try this recipe again in the future? yes. it’s easy to make, tastes delicious (the frangipane was lovely and light) and almond is one of david’s favourite flavours. i was also impressed with the grated-butter technique used for the pastry-making – it makes life much easier!

bakewell tart...er...pudding (makes one 23cm tart)

one quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)

250ml jam, warmed for spreadability (i used slightly less)

one quantity frangipane (recipe follows)

one handful blanched, flaked almonds

assembling the tart:

place the chilled pastry 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 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 the pastry shell from the freezer and spread an even layer of jam onto it. top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes (my tartlets took just over 20 minutes). five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and start to brown, remove it from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and then return it 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 leave to cool. 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(mine had the texture of a light cake) and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

sweet shortcrust pastry

225g plain flour

30g sugar

½ teaspoon salt

110g unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)

2 egg yolks

½ teaspoon almond extract (optional, i didn’t use it)

1-2 tablespoons cold water (you may need more, i used 4 tablespoons)

sift together the flour, sugar and salt. grate the 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 unsalted butter, softened

125g icing sugar

3 eggs

½ teaspoon almond extract (i didn’t add this)

125g ground almonds

30g plain flour

cream the butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is pale yellow 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 - don’t worry if this happens, it will be fine, although you can avoid it by adding the four after the second egg. after all three eggs have been added, pour in the almond extract (if using) 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 and retain its pallid yellow colour.