14 April 2014

Cherry Bakewell Tarts

In the two weeks since I last posted here, I've established several things. Firstly, I suck at blogging regularly. Secondly, revision is kind of taking over my life (and physics is totally the worst). Thirdly, I discovered I actually like bakewell tarts. Who know? It's a revelation! I've spent my entire life avoiding them, thinking I hated them, when actually they are, to borrow a Mary Berry catchphrase, 'rather scrummy'.
My main problem with a traditional bakewell tart was the addition of jam. Without it, a bakewell tart isn't really a bakewell tart. It's an intrinsic element, but one that provides a bit of a problem for someone who doesn't like jam - in other words, me. I think I'm the only person I know with this dislike of jam. I can't quite pin down my main problem with it - its probably a combination of the intense sweetness and the strange, slightly slippery texture which puts me off.

I found a suitable replacement however, in the form of some cherries, slightly simmered with a bit of sugar and lemon juice. It adds an extra step to the process but I really think it was worth it - it provides a slightly sharper layer of fruit on the bottom, with the cherries mainly still whole and just a little softened.
Since I'd already made one tweak on the traditional recipe, I decided to go all out and make another. Although I think that my ability to make pastry has improved vastly from the days of the completely rock solid pie crusts I used to make, it's still nice to have a change, so in these pies I used shortbread dough. It made a delicious alternative to shortcrust pastry, providing a buttery-crisp base for the afore mentioned cherries and the sweet, densely-fragrant almond sponge. Although I love the look of the flaked almond topped beauties here - my main inspiration for making these - I opted for a simple icing sugar and water icing to top off the tarts. I'm so glad I discovered the joys of the bakewell!

Bakewell Tarts
My inspiration to make these was from London Bakes beautiful little bakewells found here - I used her recipe for the almond sponge. The shortbread base recipe comes from here.
Makes 12 

200g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
260g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

300g cherries - I brought frozen ones which are already de-stoned
80g caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

115g unsalted butter, softened
115g unrefined caster/granulated sugar
1 egg
115g ground almonds

Start by making the shortbread dough. Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Mix in the flour until the mixture starts to form a dough. 

Cut out 12 long thin strips of greeseproof paper to go across the bottom of each hole in the muffin tin. This will make removing the finished tarts a lot easier. Tip the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll out thinly. Cut into circles about 10cm across, and press each circle into a cup of the muffin tin, making sure the greaseproof paper strip is positioned underneath. In my experience the shortbread dough was prone to tear but was easily patched up. Leave the tin in the fridge to chill for about half an hour. 

Now make the cherry 'jam'. Tip the cherries into a small saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice and simmer rapidly for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a jam jar to cool down a little. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. To make the almond sponge, beat together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until very light and fluffy, and then beat in the egg. Fold in the ground almonds. 

Remove the muffin tin from the fridge. Place about 1 tsp of cherries, along with a drizzle of their juices, into the bottom of each shortbread case, then top with a dessertspoonful of almond sponge. 

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the almond sponge is cooked. Leave the tarts to cool down for about 10 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Either serve the tarts as they are, or top with an icing sugar and water icing. I didn't measure the quantities of icing sugar and water that I used, but it's quite hard to go wrong, really. Just make sure the icing isn't too runny, or it will seep down the sides of the tarts.

I only had about 5 minutes to photograph these, hence the awful quality of the pictures. In an effort to put my perfectionist tendencies to one side, and because these really were delicious, I decided to post them anyway.


  1. When a blog is as beautiful as yours it's worth waiting for a post x

  2. These look so delicious and satisfying... I think it's the fact that they are individual and have nice thick pastry! And cherries... well yum.


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