Monday, 2 July 2012

Nan's mini bakewell tarts

Nanna would always go to the effort of baking homemade treats for her grandchildren when she knew we would be stopping by, which was very often when we were little and lived so close. These days her grandchildren are divided between Melbourne, Hong Kong and London. 

The goodies that I remember most fondly were Nan's 'butterfly' cakes as we called them, known more commonly today as 'fairy' cakes. There was something so endearing about those little wings of vanilla cake, so delicately placed upon a dollop of Nan's homemade jam with freshly whipped cream, then dusted with icing sugar to finish. But I was equally in love with Nan's bakewell tarts and the rich, soft, sweet, almond-y experience that each mouthful would provide. This was not of course the extent of Nanna's recipe repertoire. Other favourites included her bread pudding, mince pies, apple pie, apple & rhubarb crumble as well as vegetable, lentil & barley soup and roast dinners with Yorkshire puds. 

Both Nan's bakewell tarts and fairy cakes featured her homemade apricot jam which she would make from the delicious apricots that grew on the old tree in her backyard that Grandad would tend to. Not since those days of running around without a care in Nanna & Grandad's back garden, have I ever tasted apricots anywhere as good, and sadly I probably never will . . . at least not until I eventually buy that block of land and plant that orchard I've always dreamt about :)  

When I asked Nan about the origin of her sweet baked recipes, she told me that she would develop them herself after being inspired by what she would spy through the shop window at her local bakery near London. This was back in the 1950's when Nan was a young mother. As someone who is very often inspired to develop my own take on recipes that I come across when out and about myself, or from what I view online and in magazines . .  I'd like to think that perhaps there is a little of Nan's talent in me! :)

As a tribute to my beautiful, kind-natured Nanna who passed away recently, I have adapted her mini bakewell tarts for the Thermomix . . .

Bakewell tarts are a very traditional English dessert which originates from the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, England. The tart consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, with a layer of jam and a sponge-style filling made with ground almonds (known as Frangipane). Nanna would top her tarts with almond icing and half a glace cherry, but traditionally they are also sprinkled with flaked almonds. 

Nan's mini bakewell tarts
makes 18

200g plain flour
100g butter, chilled, cut into cubes
15g raw caster sugar
1 egg yolk
20-30g chilled water

  1. Place flour, butter and sugar in TM bowl and mix for about 5-10 seconds on speed 6 until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolk and water and knead for 10-20 seconds on interval speed until dough starts to come together in beads. Add a little more water if necessary. 
  3. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface, knead slightly and press together to form a smooth, flat disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to rest. 

90g homemade apricot jam - I used Tenina's Thermomix recipe for Dried apricot preserve,  but used less sugar (200g - organic raw sugar) & lemon juice (80g). The result is a deliciously flavoursome apricot jam which can be easily made all year round. 

50g blanched almonds
60g butter, room temp
60g raw caster sugar
1 large egg
30g organic SR flour
1/2 tsp almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease 2 x 12-hole shallow patty pans.
  2. Grind almonds for 8-10 seconds on speed 7. Decant into a small bowl. 
  3. Add butter and sugar to TM bowl and cream on speed 4 for 1 minute or until light in colour and fluffy in texture. Scrape sides.
  4. Add the egg and continue mixing on speed 4 to combine. 
  5. Add the almond essence, SR flour and return the ground almonds to TM bowl. Mix until just combined for 5-10 seconds on speed 4.
  6. Roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thick on a clean surface sprinkled with flour. Cut 18 fluted rounds with a 7cm cutter. Line patty pans with the pastry rounds and prick base with a fork. 
  7. Add a dollop (approx 1tsp) apricot jam to the pastry rounds, and top with approx. 2 tsp almond sponge filling. 
  8. Flatten with the back of a spoon. The sponge will rise slightly, so do not fill to any higher than the edge of the pastry. Sprinkle with a few flaked almonds if you do not wish to ice the tarts. 
  9. Place the tarts in a pre-heated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool, then ice with almond icing (below) and top with half a glace cherry. 
120g icing sugar, sieved
3 tsp milk 
1 tsp almond extract
9 glace cherries, halved (or goji berries)

Combine sieved icing sugar, milk and almond extract in a bowl and mix well until smooth. Spoon a little onto each tart. Decorate with a half a glace or with goji berries. Allow to set at room temperature. 

I used a few goji berries in place of the glace cherry, which of course is not very traditional, but attractive and adds a little burst of antioxidants :) 

variation ideas
I wanted to resist making any alterations to this recipe . . . as it is Nan's recipe after all, and I wanted to preserve it as hers. However, some nutritional improvements or dietary changes that could be made to this recipe include: using a flax-egg in place of the egg yolk in the pastry and half wholegrain flour or even GF flour in place of the plain white. You could grind whole almonds in place of blanched almonds for the filling and use GF flour with a little baking powder in place of the white SR. 

no thermomix?
Use a food processor to make the shortcrust pastry and the filling. 
Use purchased apricot jam or use the traditional stovetop method to make your own.

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  1. hi may i know how to store these lovely tartlets n if these can be made in advance?

    1. Hello! I store these in an airtight container in a cool place. If it's a little warm where you are, you could pop them in the fridge but be sure to bring back to room temp before you eat them :) They will also freeze well. Enjoy.

    2. thx so much for d reply.i'm planning to make it for CNY.i dont hv a pastry cutter.can i jz use any egg tart mould?o in a muffin pan?thx once again.. also what is blanched almond?can i substitute it with almond flakes grind into powder?d goji berries r dried?thx lotz!!

    3. What a fab idea! The pastry will mould well into anything that you choose to use. Blanched almonds are skinless whole almonds. Yes, you could substitute flakes or slices. If you're not worried about some brown flecks, you could even use whole raw almonds. The goji are dried yes. They are also known as Chinese wolf berries - perfect for CNY :)

    4. Thanks!! Wil make it for d coming CNY definitely :-) hopefully my family n friends wil love them~ Happy New Year to u.Gong Xi :)

  2. This is the best tart recipe I've seen so far. But I had a question. See I've got to make the tarts in only 30 minutes in school so I was wondering if I could make the dough and filling at home and use it the next day. If so where should I store it.

    1. Hello, this IS a fabulous recipe . . thanks Nan! :) You could definitely make the pastry and filling ahead of time. Just keep them in the fridge but return them to room temperature before constructing the tarts. Just don't allow the pastry to warm up too much of course. Where are you located? Enjoy your school demo!