The origins of the Bakewell tart are disputed. A question mark hangs over whether it was originally a tart or a pudding and if it was a mistake by an inexperienced cook. Both Bakewell puddings and Bakewell tarts are sold in Bakewell, Derbyshire, and they are very similar. The pudding is made with a puff pastry base covered in jam, with an egg and almond topping, whereas the Bakewell tart has a shortcrust case, spread with jam and a frangipane style topping. The jam used is usually strawberry or raspberry but cherry or blackcurrant jam is also very good or you can use a sweetened fruit purée instead. Some recipes use almond essence, but this can have the effect of overpowering the other flavours and so is left out of the recipe below. If it is not the damson season, use damson jam instead.
Damson Bakewell Tart Serves 8Pastry:
Pinch of salt
Very cold water
Unsalted butter, softened100g
1. For the pastry, sift the flour with a pinch of salt and rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and there are no large lumps of butter left. Then add the sugar.
2. Stir in enough of the egg yolk and cold water until the mixture comes together. Transfer the pastry to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry out until it is 3mm thick. Line a 25cm flan tin with the pastry and chill it in the refrigerator for half an hour.
3. Wash the damsons well and remove any stalks and leaves. Put into a saucepan with the sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Cook over a low heat until the damsons are soft and push them through a sieve, discarding the stones as you go. Leave the purée to cool. Add more sugar to taste.
4. Line the pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake blind at 190°C for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and parchment and return to the oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden and dry to the touch. Allow to cool.
5. Spread the purée over the pastry.
6. For the filling, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time and fold in the ground almonds. Spoon the mixture carefully over the purée and spread it out to the sides. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
7. Bake the tart in the middle of a 180C oven for 3035 minutes, or until the filling is golden brown and is firm to the touch.
8. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly before removing the flan tin and base. Dust with icing sugar if liked.