Origins of the Bakewell Tart
Throughout history there have been many different views on how and when the Bakewell Tart was created
The Derbyshire town of Bakewell claims to be the home of the authentic Bakewell Pudding and many believe it to originally come from the Rushbottom Lane district. A recipe still made there consists of a puff pastry shell with a layer of jam, covered with a filling of eggs, sugar, butter and almonds.
The tale told to tourists is that this dish is an accidental invention of the 1860s, which occurred when a nobleman visiting the White Horse Inn (now called The Rutland Arms) at Bakewell ordered strawberry tart. The cook, instead of stirring the egg mixture into the cake, spread it on top of the jam. However, this claim is almost certainly spurious, as the pudding was by then already well-known, and its antecedents can be traced back to medieval times.
What is a Traditional Bakewell Tart – this is a very popular dessert using a recipe which as been passed down over generations.
Cherry Bakewell Tartlets
Servings: Makes 24 tartlets
For the Pastry:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks/5 oz./142g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp. water
For the Filling:
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup firmly packed almond paste
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 egg white
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. cake flour
- 1 cup jam, such as raspberry, sour cherry or strawberry
For the Icing:
- 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tbsp. water
- 6 glacè cherries (candied cherries), halved
To Make the Pastry:
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process in short pulses until pea-size crumbs form, 20 to 25 seconds. While pulsing, add the egg yolk mixture and process to form large, moist crumbs, 10 to 15 seconds more.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a flat, 5-inch disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 400°F/200°C.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds of pastry. Transfer a round to each well of a 12-well mini tart plaque or mini muffin pan (or you may use individual mini fluted tart tins). Using your fingers, press the pastry to fit into the well. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
To Make the Filling and to Bake:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the almond paste and granulated sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. While beating, add the eggs a little at a time, blending well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and fold in the cake flour until just blended and no lumps of flour remain.
- Spoon about 1 heaping tsp. jam into each tart shell, making a thin layer about 1/4 inch deep. Spoon the filling into each shell, filling it just to the top. Bake in preheated 400°F/200°C oven until the tartlets are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack, cool the tartlets to room temperature. Repeat with remaining dough to make 12 more tartlets.
For the Icing:
- Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl, then combine with about 2 tablespoons of water and stir until smooth. Spoon the icing over the cooled tarts and top with a glacè cherry half.