A Bakewell tart is an English treat originating from a town of the same name. These tarts are made by filling a shortbread crust with raspberry jam and frangipane, an almond cream, and topping it with flaked almonds or thick icing. It was the wonderful Mary Berry on The Great British Baking Show who made this classic treat popular again. I figured if I was going to attempt to make my own Bakewell tart, I had to make Mary Berry's version.
I found two recipes of Mary’s, here and here, and combined them to make a version of my favorite pastry from Sam's that would fit the 9-inch tart pan that had been hiding in the back of my baking cabinet. I also had to translate the ingredients from metric.
After, I dug up the episode of the Great British Baking Show (season 4, episode 5) where Bakewell raspberry almond tarts were featured as the technical portion of the competition. Mary Berry demanded “sheer perfection” from her contestants, and not many delivered something servable. While I may not have survived TGBBS’s scrutiny, I must say my Bakewell tart came out just like the pastry I had been indulging in.
Baking Mary Berry’s Bakewell Raspberry Almond Tarts
I consider myself a good baker, but this recipe was a bit of a challenge. I think now that I have successfully baked my first tart, it would go easier the second time around. Even with some mishaps, this tart is very forgiving and came out perfectly layered. I hope these tips from my experience of making one of Mary Berry’s raspberry almond tarts will encourage you to give it a try for your next tea treat.
To start, you need to make a shortbread crust by cutting butter into flour, essentially using your hands, two forks, or a pastry cutter to break cold butter up into the dry ingredients. In this recipe, you want to work it in until it resembles course breadcrumbs. Then you stir in confectioners sugar, two tablespoons of water, and one large egg. Dump this mixture onto a lightly floured surface and press and roll into a crust.
This is where I ran into some trouble; my crust did not come together fully. If yours does, roll it onto the rolling pin to transport to a 9-inch tart pan with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom or a greased springform pan. If, like mine, your crust didn’t completely form, do not fear. I rolled out what I could and just used my hands to mush and press the rest of the dough in and up the sides of the pan to make a crust. It came out just fine. Make sure the crust is even; you don’t want any super thick or thin spots. I also think this recipe would make wonderful little raspberry almond tartlets by breaking up the dough and making small crusts in a muffin tin.
Chill this in the fridge for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 390. Once chilled, you are going to blind bake the crust by placing parchment paper over the crust and filling it with uncooked beans or rice. Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for 5 more. Remove from oven and let cool some.
My next trick is simple: I bought raspberry jam. I am usually all for homemade everything, but jam isn’t something I have a lot of experience with. If you can whip up a jam that will hold up in the oven, or have some canned already, you are my hero. I went with an organic, seedless raspberry jam that was delicious on its own. The recipes call for 1/4 cup of jam. I added an extra spoonful because I like my tart extra jammy.
The frangipane is actually quite simple. Cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, then add in ground almonds, an egg, and almond extract. You can either buy almonds and grind them, or use coarse almond flour.
Drop this mixture over the jam and spread, trying not to mix the jam into the almond cream. Top with optional chopped almonds (see below) and place on a foil-lined baking tray to catch any butter runoff. Place the tart in the oven at 350. The recipe calls for 25-35 minutes, but mine took closer to an hour and needed a foil tent to keep the top from burning. It’s done when a skewer poked in the center comes out clean.
This is where you have three options: make Mary Berry’s thick icing with pink feathering if you have the skill, make an icing and drizzle it over a chopped almond topping, or just sprinkle chopped almonds over the almond cream before baking. I went with chopped almonds and a pink and white drizzle, but honestly – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – I think the pastry is better without frosting. The jam and the frangipane are the true stars of the show and don’t need any more sweetness. Mary Berry would disagree. Pick whatever feels right; you really can’t go wrong.
Tea and Raspberry Almond Tarts
The Great British Baking Show called the Bakewell tart an “ultimate teatime classic.” While I don’t think you can go wrong with any tea pairing, the raspberry and lemongrass flavors of Raspberry Revitalizer Lemon Maté would play well with the raspberry jam. Similarly, the Caramel Almond Black Tea or any of Plum Deluxe’s almond teas would pair well with the almond cream in these raspberry almond tarts.
The Bakewell tart is substantial enough to hold its own during tea time, but it would also work well paired with something light like these refreshing salads or fresh and fruity tea sandwiches for a full afternoon menu.
For the crust:
- 1 and 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3/4 cup butter, chilled
- 4 tablespoons confectioner sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 cup raspberry jam
- 1 cup confectioner sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- cold water to thin
- pink food coloring gel
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Measure flour into a large bowl, then cut in butter using fingertips, two forks, or a pastry cutter.
Add in confectioners sugar, an egg, and two tablespoons of water. Mix together and transfer to a lightly floured surface.
Bring dough together with your hands, then roll into a crust. Using the rolling pin, move crust to either a 9-inch parchment-lined tart pan or a greased springform pan.
Chill crust for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with uncooked beans or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes, remove beans and parchment paper, then bake for an additional 5 minutes to dry out the crust bottom. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
While crust is cooling, beat together softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract.
Layer raspberry jam into the crust, then drop spoonfuls of almond cream and spread over the jam. Add sliced almonds to the top if you choose (skip if you are going to feather the icing.)
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Keep a close eye on your tart after 25 minutes, and tent with foil if necessary if the top browns before the inside is done cooking.
If you choose to frost, you can mix together the confectioners sugar, water, and almond extract. You want the frosting to be pretty thick, so add sugar until you get your desired consistency. Move a small amount of icing to a separate bowl to color pink with food dye if you are going to feather the icing. Once the tart has cooled completely, drizzle or spread the icing over the tart.