This rendition of a British Classic features a perfect buttery crust topped with Raspberry jam, an almond sponge cake, slivered almonds, and streusel.
Today’s Dorie Greenspan recipe is from her latest cookbook: “Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty and Simple” (Houghton, Mifflin & Harcourt 2021). It’s gotten rave reviews for recipes like this. Dorie first tasted a Bakewell in Paris, baked by her friend Stephanie Johnston. The recipe was from Stephanie’s mum, Granny Annie. Annie made this British bake sometimes swapping out her homemade raspberry jam for lemon curd or red currant jelly. Stephanie was not above using store-bought Bon Maman Raspberry jam atop the very simple all-butter crust pie dough. Andrew followed suit and created this wonderful almond cake. It is a perfect thing to serve at teatime and a great dessert any time. Small wonder the British consider it a national treasure. In a 2015 survey for Craft Bakers’ Week, the Bakewell tart received more than a quarter of the votes beating out English Muffins and Chelsea Buns for the top spot.
Where exactly did the Bakewell Tart come from?
Yes, there is a town called Bakewell in Derbyshire, right in the middle of England. Its name means “a spring or stream of a woman named Badeca or Beadeca.” However, Bakewell lives up to its name with two confections. The Bakewell Tart and the Bakewell Pudding. Although Bakewell claims title to the tart, the recipe bears a solid resemblance to one from a 15th-century cookbook “A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye” when sweet tarts were first baked. Locals agree the Pudding was baked by mistake. The Landlady of “The White Horse Inn” left her cook instructions for a Bakewell tart. Instead of mixing eggs and almond paste into the pastry, the cook spread them on top of the jam. Served warm, it’s intensely sweet and its center has a custardy texture. The pudding is, pardon me, a bit of a mess. The Tart is beautiful.
Then there was the Great British Bake-Off Controversy over the Bakewell…
There were bound to be recipe variations. The Cherry Bakewell is a glacé cherry-topped cake and a worthy descendant of the original. But some went a bridge too far. In 2016, the Great British Baking Show aired with a recipe from Mary Berry, of all people, for a Bakewell Tart that saw contestants topping off their entries with a layer of fondant decorated with delicate feathering. Viewers were baffled by this addition and took to Twitter to defend the honor of the original recipe. They were particularly ticked off with the topping, insisting that traditionally the tart is topped with a scant number of almonds. Something tells me they might even reject the streusel in today’s recipe. You decide. And here it is… followed by some other desserts of interest.
Dorie Greenspan's Bakewell Tart
A prefect buttery crust topped with Raspberry jam, an almond sponge cake, slivered almonds and streusel.
- Unbaked tart crust in a 9-inch fluted pan (recipe follows)
- For the Tart Shell:
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon ice water
- For the Bakewell Tart:
- 1 ¼ cups (125 grams) almond flour
- ½ cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
- ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 jar (340 to 370 grams) raspberry jam, to make 1 slightly rounded cup
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds (optional)
- For the icing (optional):
- ½ cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- ½ to 1 tablespoon water
- Step 1 First Make the Pie Crust:
- Step 2 To make the dough in a food processor: Put the flour, sugar and salt in the processor and whir a few times to blend. Scatter the bits of butter over the flour and pulse several times, until the butter is coarsely mixed into the flour. Beat the egg with the ice water and pour it into the bowl in 3 small additions, whirring after each one. (Don’t overdo it — the dough shouldn’t form a ball or ride on the blade.) You’ll have a moist, malleable dough that will hold together when pinched. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball (if the dough doesn’t come together easily, push it, a few spoonfuls at a time, under the heel of your hand or knead it lightly), and flatten it into a disk.
- Step 3 To make the dough by hand: Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Drop in the bits of butter and, using your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until it is evenly distributed. You’ll have large and small butter bits, and that’s fine — uniformity isn’t a virtue here. Beat the egg and water together, drizzle over the dough, and, using a fork, toss the dough until it is evenly moistened. Reach into the bowl and, using your fingertips, mix and knead the dough until it comes together. Turn it out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball (if the dough doesn’t come together easily, push it, a few spoonfuls at a time, under the heel of your hand or knead it some more), and flatten it into a disk.
- Step 4 Chill the dough for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
- Step 5 When you’re ready to make the tart shell, butter a 9- to 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (butter it even if it’s nonstick).
- Step 6 To roll out the dough: I like to roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a lightly floured rolling cover, but you can roll it out on a lightly floured work surface. If you’re working between sheets of paper or plastic wrap, lift the paper or plastic often so that it doesn’t roll into the dough, and turn the dough over frequently. If you’re just rolling on the counter, make sure to lift and turn the dough and re-flour the counter often. The rolled-out dough should be about ¼ inch thick and at least 12 inches in diameter.
- Step 7 Transfer the dough to the tart pan, easing it into the pan without stretching it. (What you stretch now will shrink in the oven later.) Press the dough against the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you’d like to reinforce the sides of the crust, you can fold some of the excess dough over, so that you have a double thickness around the sides. Using the back of a table knife, trim the dough even with the top of the pan. Prick the base of the crust in several places with a fork.
- Step 8 Chill — or freeze — the dough for at least 1 hour before baking.
- Step 9 To make the Tart: Center a rack in the oven, and preheat it to 400. Prick the crust all over with a fork, cover with buttered foil and fill with dried rice or beans. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, and bake for 3 minutes more, until lightly colored. Set aside to cool.
- Step 10 To make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Whisk the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and sea salt together. Working with a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, scraping the bowl as needed. The mixture may curdle — it’s O.K. Beat in the almond extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add half of the dry mixture. When incorporated, add the rest, and beat only until it disappears into the batter. Finish blending with a spatula.
- Step 11 Spread the jam in the crust, and top with the filling, covering the jam as completely as you can. (The filling doesn’t spread easily, but imperfections work out in the end.) If you’d like, sprinkle with sliced almonds.
- Step 12 Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top feels firm and is puffed all the way to the center. (Check the tart after about 25 minutes, and if it is browning quickly, tent it loosely with foil.) Transfer to a rack, and let it cool before icing, if you’d like, and serving.
- Step 13 To make the icing: Stir the sugar and 1/2 tablespoon water together. If the icing doesn’t run off the spoon slowly and steadily, add more water drop by drop. Drizzle over the tart, and let it dry at room temperature.