The technical bake for pastry week on the Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry’s Bakewell Tart, caused a controversy (according to The Sun anyway). Should bakewell tarts be iced or topped with almonds? Should bakewell tarts that are iced (like the ones Mr Kipling bakes) really be called cherry bakewells? What about tarts that are iced but don’t have a cherry?
The Great British Bake Off recipe had icing – pink feather icing at that – but no cherry. Bakewell tart, cherry bakewell, or something in between? Whatever it was, I gave it a go.
I made the raspberry jam for the filling, and the pastry in advance. As I said when I made the dampfnudel, I have absolutely no idea how the Bake Off contestants manage to make anything in the time they’re allowed.
For the jam, I put raspberries in a pan with jam sugar and put it over a low heat until the sugar dissolved. I upped the heat and boiled the mixture for four minutes. I’m still not quite sure of “jam temperature”,. There is a test, I think, that involves putting some jam onto a saucer and seeing if you get wrinkles. A four-minute boil worked for the Viennese whirls so that’s what I did (without a wrinkle test).
To make the pastry, I mixed plain flour and cold butter with my brilliant pastry blender. Here it is yet again.
Once I’d got to breadcrumb stage, I sieved in some icing sugar and added a beaten egg. The recipe says that you should also add two tablespoonfuls of cold water. I decided to add the egg first, then mix. If the pastry came together I wouldn’t need the water. I didn’t. In fact, I was a bit concerned that using the whole egg might leave the pastry a bit on the wet side. Too late to do anything about it now though. I worked the pastry into a ball, wrapped it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge overnight.
To make the tart, I rolled out the pastry to the universal tart thickness of a pound coin and lifted it very carefully over my tart tin. The recipe stipulates a 23cm tin. Mine is 24cm, but looks a lot shallower than the Bake Off tins, so I thought I should have enough pastry. I did. There was plenty, which was a good thing because I had to do the odd bit of patching up.
The Bake Off recipe is silent on whether the case should be trimmed pre or post-baking. I consulted James Martin’s Sweet on the matter. He’s a post-bake trimmer, so I decided to do the same. I put the untrimmed tart onto a baking tray – well, actually a pizza tray because I don’t have a baking tray big enough – lined it with scrunched up greaseproof paper, filled it with baking beads, and baked it blind for 15 minutes at 200° fan. After the 15 minutes, I took out the beads and put the tart back into the oven for another five minutes. I trimmed the edges when it came out.
Bakewell tart filling
To make the filling, I creamed together butter and caster sugar, added ground almonds, almond extract and an egg, and mixed it all up. My jam had set nicely. I spread a layer onto the bottom of the tart and put the almond mixture onto the top. I used all of the filling, mainly because I couldn’t think of anything exciting to do with any leftovers. It was probably because my tin was shallower than that used in the recipe, but my filling did end up a little bit higher than the edges of the tart.
I put it into the oven and crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t overflow.
The cooking time in the recipe is between 25 and 30 minutes or, as always, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Oh, and you also have to remember to turn the oven down to 180° fan. It took a long time for my tart to cook. My skewer was covered in raw tart at 25 minutes, at 30 minutes, at 35 minutes… I didn’t think it was ever going to cook. Eventually, I took the tart out of the oven after 40 minutes or thereabouts. Whether or not it was done, I still wasn’t sure.
I could certainly see the advantage of icing. I had quite a few cracks to hide.
Once the tart had cooled, I made the icing by mixing icing sugar and water. I put a few tablespoons into a separate bowl and coloured it pink (I used red gel food colouring – I think you can get it in pink but they didn’t have any in Tesco this week). I transferred the pink icing to a piping bag. Since the Viennese whirls, my last piping disaster, I have googled “how to fill a piping bag.” Google recommended putting the bag into a jug and opening it out over the top. I followed Google’s advice
and the icing ended up at the bottom of the piping bag rather than all the way up to my elbows. It’s obvious really I suppose, but thank you anyway Google.
I covered the tart with a layer of white icing and piped parallel lines of pink icing over the top. I pulled a cocktail stick through the white lines and
here it is. I think my feathering needs a bit of work, bit, all in all, I was pretty pleased with this one. The pastry was light and crisp – no sign of a soggy bottom, the jam was lovely and the filling tasted as almondy as a bakewell tart should taste. I don’t really care whether I made a bakewell tart, a cherry bakewell, or something else entirely, it was lovely and something that I’ll definitely try again.