Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers - Bakewell Tart

Earlier this decade, I had the pleasure of living in London for around 9 months, working as a lawyer at a City firm based near the Petticoat Lane Markets in East London. When I was hired, it was initially for the firm's new Oxford office, but for various reasons I worked in the London office for the entire duration of my employment. This turned out to be a bonus for me, because I had wanted to live and work in London, but being a technology lawyer looking to work in the UK just as the tech bubble burst, I had thought it would be an unattainable dream.

I lived in West London near Lancaster Gate tube station, in a flat which was advertised as being in Bayswater but which in reality was closer to the slightly less fashionable Paddington. My flat was located in what had once been a house which had been divided into flats, and was situated in a lovely square of white buildings with a small square garden in the centre.

It was a wonderful life until I, too, became a late casualty of the tech bubble bursting. However, I do not regret a second of it, and I think that my life would be much poorer if I had not had the opportunity to do it or the courage to go ahead with it, despite strong opposition from my family and the long period of feeling displaced on my return.

One of the pleasurable things about life in London was experiencing the food. Back then, I was not half as interested in food and cooking as I am now, so to some extent, I did not take full advantage of the opportunities to visit the various markets and try all of the wonderful produce there. However, I had friends who lived near Spitalfields Markets, and I adored the German cake stall (do try the sour cherry cake - delicious!) and the exotic dried fruit and spice stall there. I also was amazed every time I visited Notting Hill markets to see the seafood displayed in ice buckets out in the open - it would never happen here because our weather is far too warm and the fish would spoil.

I also developed a taste for certain supermarket treats - Sainsburys banoffee pie (which was no longer available when I visited 4 years later), M&S Percy Pigs (which kind friends have sent me a supply of from time to time), McVities jaffa cakes (which you can now buy here), and Mr Kiplings cherry bakewells ("exceedingly good" and which can also now be purchased here). The latter were a favourite at the firm where I worked, as they made an appearance at almost every birthday afternoon tea during my stay.

Accordingly, it was with a fond touch of nostalgia that I made this month's Daring Bakers challenge.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

The bakewell tart consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, which is topped with jam and an almond frangipane. It can be decorated with almonds or, as with Mr Kiplings cherry bakewells, it can be iced and topped with a glace cherry. We were also invited to make our own jam for the tart filling.

I loved the pastry recipe used to make the tartshell, because it did not shrink or lose its shape at all during baking. For that reason, I would definitely use it again.

Here is my tartshell toped with my homemade mixed berry jam, which I strained to remove the seeds and blueberry skins:

then the tart with the almond frangipane poured on top:

and finally, here is the tart after it has finished baking, and has been sprinkled with flaked alonds:

Don't you just love the golden brown crust, concealing the jam as shown at the top of this post?

Because of my nostalgic fondness for Mr Kiplings cherry bakewells, I used the leftover tart dough and reserved some of the frangipane to make 10 little bakewell tarts filled with store-bought cherry jam, iced with water icing and topped with half a glace cherry:

To give you an insiders glance at these mini tarts, here they are pre-decorating:

and here is a rather blurry peak inside:

This was a fun challenge, and I thank Jasmine and Annemarie for being our hosts this month. (You can incidentally find the recipe for the bakewell tart on their websites.) To check out all the other amazing variations on the bakewell tart by the other Daring Bakers, check out the Daring Kitchen blogroll.


Talita said...

Yummy! This tart looks great! I love berries and almond!

Heather said...

wow! that tart sounds delicious!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh yay you did some Mr Kipling style Bakewell tarts! I was just commenting on Ang's creating a stir blog that I was surprised I hadn't seen more. They look fantastic! And yes although the tech bubble burst I'm sure your time there was invaluable :)

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Talita :)

Thanks Heather - I liked the big tart the best.

Audax said...

You did the "classic" bakewell with icing and a red cherry yes the food of fond times is always a nice treat. Your pixs look nice also. Great story about your time in the UK. Cheers Audax

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

So you did get to revisit some memories with this challenge.
I do however prefer the tart without the icing.
Just me, I don't like icing. :) But the little tarts look very pretty, kinda Xmassy with white and red.

Y said...

Your tarts look amazing - just like the real thing! :) I've been to London a couple of times and had a few pies but never a Bakewell tart, silly me. One to remember for next time.

Snooky doodle said...

these tarts look delicious and so cute. I love bakewell tart

Unknown said...

I notice you've got a new look on your blog, Gaye. Looks so sweet. Well done on the bakewell tart!

Cakelaw said...

LOL Lorraine - I couldn't resist.

Thanks Audax - I was once again amazed at all of your variations.

Hi Aparna, I liked the one without the icing better too - but there's nothing like a trip down memory lane.

Hi Y, absolutely. When I was in London, I went out of my way to try a Walnut Whip because Adrian Mole always talked abouth them.

Thanks Snooky Doodle - making the minis was fun.

Thanks Arfi. Thought it was time for a facelift, even if minor.

Mary said...

Both your tart and your little tartlettes are beautiful! I was scheduled to move to London for work earlier this decade, but the Energy Marketing bubble burst and 6 weeks before I was to move I got the news the company was dismantling speculative trading.

Tammy said...

fantastic memories. Your individual tarts look wonderful!

ice tea: sugar high said...

Great to hear that this recipe brings back such fond memories =).
Your tarts look absolutely divine. Love the iced ones with cherry filling.

The Caked Crusader said...

Great looking tart.
Glad to hear about your Percy Pig love, but have you tried Percy Piglets?

Megan said...

I love the little frosted mini ones! Great job.

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and the tarts looks delicious. I particularly like the mini ones with the iced topping and cherry .. very English!

♥Rosie♥ said...

Your Bakewell tarts look absolutely divine Cakelaw!! This is one of my favourite bakes too ;0)

Anonymous said...

YUM! Your tart looks wonderful. I'm glad I decided to make it.

The Blonde Duck said...

Wonderful tart and story!

breadchick said...

OH WOW! Your tarts are so perfect looking.

jasmine said...

I've often said if I could find a position in London I'd sell up and move there in a heartbeat. Sounds as if you had a great experience there. It also sounds as if you liked the challenge.

Thanks for participating,

Cakelaw said...

Hi Mary, dontcha hate it when you make big plans, and they get torn down by things beyond your control? Oh well, meant to be.

Thanks Tammy

Thanks Iced Tea - I like the littlies.

Thanks Crusader. I haven't heard about the Percy piglets, but now I am curious. Will have to investigate!

Thanks Megan - they were fun to do.

Thanks Jo, I liked the little ones too.

Thanks Rosie :)

Hi Wendy, I'm glad you made it too.

Thanks Duckie :)

Thanks Mary - a fun challenge.

Hi Jasmine, thanks for being our co-chost for June. Enjoyed this one a lot.