I started thinking about Bakewell Tarts when I saw them recently on The Great Canadian Baking Show. The challenge in the show was to make a full-sized tart and the bakers experienced varying degrees of success. I have to say, whilst a full-sized version of any dessert is always impressive to serve, I MUCH prefer individual (minified) versions of fancy tarts like this and while it might be a bit more work, it’s actually easier to work with smaller quantities of pastry if you’re new to working with pastry (it’s why I often teach smaller versions of desserts in my online classes!).
There are a couple of different interpretations of what a Bakewell Tart consists of. Most will know this as a shortcrust pastry tart, with a layer of jam, topped with almond cream (not to be confused with frangipane which is a term often used, but frangipane actually is almond cream mixed with pastry cream) and topped with flaked almonds, baked and sprinkled with icing sugar to serve. Others will be more familiar with the Mr Kipling version – individual tarts as described, but topped with a fondant icing. These are more correctly known as “Iced Bakewells”. The version they were asked to make on The Great Canadian Baking Show was a large version of Mr Kipling’s with a fancy feathered patters in the fondant icing.
In actual fact (from Regula Ysewijn’s excellent British Baking Book), the original “Bakewell Pudding” (originating in the town of Bakewell) was invented around 1850 and was a custard filling in a puff pastry case. Over the years, the Bakewell Pudding evolved into a Tart made with a shortcrust pastry, a layer of jam and a filling made from breadcrumbs and almond meal, looking, cutting and eating more like a cake than a tart…
Here, I’ve decided to go the “Mr Kipling” route – iced tartlets. Because everything is cuter minified, right?
Wait, this recipe looks involved – is it hard?
Ok, so sure, if you glance at the recipe, it looks like it has multiple components which sometimes scares people off. If you take a closer look, however, you’ll see none of the elements is really challenging and you can make the filling while the pastry cases are chilling so all in all, you’re not looking at this taking too long. In addition to the “ease” factor, the pastry is made in a food processor. I use a mini food processor (affiliate link in the recipe) so you don’t need to bust out your full-sized processor either.
So, let’s get to it…
for the pastry:
for the almond cream:
for the filling:
for the fondant topping:
make the pastry
roll and cut the pastry:
make the almond cream:
partially bake the tart shells:
assemble the tartlets:
bake the tartlets:
make the fondant and ice the tartlets:
- DO use all your pastry (so don’t roll it too large and thin). If you have too much leftover, it means your cases won’t be thick enough to hold the filling.
- If your pastry is too soft, feel free to pop it in the fridge before you roll it out. Colder pastry is much easier to work with but generally, this pastry is pretty cooperative right out of the food processor, with a well-floured surface to roll it on.
- Don’t worry if your almond cream looks like it has lumps of butter in it. It simply means your butter wasn’t soft enough. The good news is that it will bake correctly anyway but to make it easier to work with, make sure your butter is VERY soft.
- DO make sure to cool the tartlets down before you ice them!
- Don’t be tempted to add too much water to your fondant topping – you can always add a drop or two more if it’s too stiff to work with but if it’s initially too loose you’ll have a hard time getting it to stay on the top.
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