Top | Pies and Tarts, Crisps and Crumbles

Bakewell Tart

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

Introduction

As a kid in England, I always had trouble keeping all the B-named desserts straight. I didn't realize it at the time, but those I preferred — the Battenberg cake, with its bizarre pink-and-yellow checkerboard squares of cake, and the Bakewell tart, with its glaze of white fondant and its candied cherry decoration in the middle — featured almonds as their central flavor. (Banbury cakes and Eccles cakes, by contrast, are basically versions of mince pies.) When I took a look at Nick Malgieri's version of the Bakewell tart in his book Bake!, I realized that it was very similar to the gâteau Basque: a pie crust with a thin layer of jam and an almond puff on top. I decided to amalgamate the two. This is the result.

Ingredients

  1. 1 sweet pie crust, enough for a 10-inch tart pan (try Flaky Pie Crust, half of the crust recipe from the Apple Galette, or a slightly sweeter version of the crust in Quiche with Variations)
  2. ½ cup jam (see Note)
  3. 1 tube (7 or 8 ounces) almond paste (such as Odense; see Note), sliced into about 8 pieces
  4. ¼ cup sugar
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  7. 1 Tbsp. lemon juice (bottled is fine) or the finely minced zest of 1 lemon, if you have it
  8. ⅓ unbleached all-purpose flour
  9. ½ cup blanched slivered almonds, for garnish (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie crust and place it into a 10-inch tart pan. Prick the crust in a few places with a fork. Spread the jam evenly over the surface of the crust.
  2. Put the sliced almond paste, sugar, and one of the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is fairly smooth. Scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, add the remaining filling ingredients one at a time: first the butter, beating for a few minutes, then the second two eggs, then the lemon juice, and finally the flour. Scrape the almond filling onto the jam-lined pie crust and smooth it out to the crust-lined edges of the pan. If you're using them, scatter the slivered almonds across the top of the tart.
  3. Place the tart in the preheated oven and bake until the filling is set and a rich golden color, about 25 minutes (convection) or 30 minutes (regular baking). Cool on a rack; cut into slices to serve.

Note

Traditionally, the Bakewell tart calls for raspberry or strawberry jam. But I like matching stone fruit with stone fruit, and so, to boost the almond flavor of the topping, I prefer the cherry jam of the gâteau Basque or an apricot or peach jam. Whatever jam flavor you choose, try not to use an overly sugary one; since so little jam is used in this dessert, you want the fruit flavor to come through, not the sweet punch of the sugar. If you don't have any commercial almond paste on hand, Malgieri suggests making your own by combining 1 cup blanched almonds, ½ cup sugar, and ½ tsp. almond extract in a food processor. The process is a bit like making your own nut butter; you'll need to whirr the machine until everything is finely ground, then continue mixing for another few minutes until it is a paste.