Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers' June Challenge - Bakewell Tarts

(With Some "Nostalgia Tarts" Thrown In, for Good Measure)

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. (Recipe HERE.)

I had read about these tasty delicacies in British mystery books, but I never really know what they were. There's a lot of lore surrounding the Bakewell Tart and controversy about its origin. One version of the story is that the landlady of an inn, in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to bake a "pudding" for her guests. There was, however, a failure in communication. What the baker produced was this shortbread pastry shell, with fruit and a topper of frangipane. The guests loved the tart, its fame spread, and it took on the name of the town - the Bakewell Tart, also known as the Bakewell Pudding.

The Bakewell Tart is a classic English dessert, and is sold, today, in English supermarket baking sections and in ready-made, mass-produced forms, some sporting a thick sugary icing and glazed cherry on top for decorative effect. It can be enjoyed best with a nice hot cup of tea.

I chose cherries as my filling, and spent one evening cooking up some delicious cherry jam from fresh store-bought cherries. Dan even bought me a very fancy, 4-cherries-at-a-time cherry pitter!

Making the tarts was not difficult. The crust was sort of like a shortbread, which was pushed into my little tart pans. A fairly thin layer of cherry jam covered the inside bottom of the shell, and then the frangipane topped everything. The main ingredient in frangipane is crushed almonds, and it baked up into something similar to a spongy cake.

Truthfully, I wasn't thrilled with my results. The crust did not have that wonderful shortbread texture that I was expecting, and the overall tart was too sweet and too intensely almond-flavored for my taste. Once again, though, Dan disagreed with my assessment. He really enjoyed them. I baked a few filled with lemon curd, as well as the cherry ones. He thought they were both delish'.

A few days later I decided to try to make some cherry tarts like my Dad used to make in the bakery. I've dubbed them "Nostalgia Tarts." They, too, were made with a shortbread pastry, and filled with cherry pie filling. Dad always formed his from a strip of shortbread with a pinched-up border, to hold in the filling, and with criss-cross strips across the top. I did a few like that, although my criss-cross strips didn't look as neat and tidy as his. The rest I made in my tart pans.

Now THESE were the cherry tarts I remember and love! The shortbread recipe I used for them was perfect. Every bite melted in the mouth. They were definitely best the first day, though. I sealed them in a plastic container, and by the next day the shortbread had softened and lost its tender crispness. They'd make a great dessert for company, as long as they were served the day they were baked.

Ahhhhh! Now THAT'S a cherry tart!

[Oh, and by the way, both challenges - Daring Bakers and Round Robins - had a posting day of the 27th, so don't miss out on the Round Robin Challenge, just below . . . ]


lisamichele said...

Here's my review, your cherry jam looks phenomenal and your tarts are stunning, especially the lattice ones! Beautifully done in all ways!!

Dragon said...

The cherry filling is amazing! Great job on this month's challenge.

ice tea: sugar high said...

Sorry to hear that you didn't like the tart. I bet Dan is even happier, more for him =)

Anonymous said...


What pretty pics!!