Stephanie Johnston’s Bakewell Tart
A classic British bakewell tart is a threesome: a crust; a layer of raspberry jam – one chockfull of seeds; and a sponge cake redolent of almonds. Sliced almonds and a drizzle of icing may or may not be optional, depending on whose recipe you’re using. I got my first taste of a bakewell, and this recipe, in Paris from my friend, Stephanie Johnston, who got it from her mom, Granny Annie, in England. Granny never used almonds or icing but occasionally swapped her homemade raspberry jam for red currant jelly or lemon curd. When I asked what made a good bakewell, Steph instructed, “The crust, the jam and the almond cake.” Well, of course. That settled, Stephanie confessed to using Bonne Maman jam from the supermarket. As for the crust, both Steph and her mom make a plain, all-butter crust, think pâte brisée or pie dough. We polished off Steph’s tart in one go after dinner, but had we shown more discipline, it would have kept at room temperature for three more days.
- Serves: 8 persons
- Unbaked tart crust in a 9-inch fluted pan (see recipe here)
- 1 ¼cups (125 grams) almond flour
- ½cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
- ½cup (100 grams) sugar
- 2large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- ½teaspoon almond extract
- 1jar (340 to 370 grams) raspberry jam, to make 1 slightly rounded cup
- ⅓cup sliced almonds (optional)
- ½cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- ½to 1 tablespoon water
Step 1Center a rack in the oven, and preheat it to 400. Prick the crust all over with a fork, cover with buttered foil and fill with dried rice or beans. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, and bake for 3 minutes more, until lightly colored. Set aside to cool.
Step 2To make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Whisk the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and sea salt together. Working with a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, scraping the bowl as needed. The mixture may curdle — it’s O.K. Beat in the almond extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add half of the dry mixture. When incorporated, add the rest, and beat only until it disappears into the batter. Finish blending with a spatula.
Step 3Spread the jam in the crust, and top with the filling, covering the jam as completely as you can. (The filling doesn’t spread easily, but imperfections work out in the end.) If you’d like, sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Step 4Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top feels firm and is puffed all the way to the center. (Check the tart after about 25 minutes, and if it is browning quickly, tent it loosely with foil.) Transfer to a rack, and let it cool before icing, if you’d like, and serving.
Step 5To make the icing: Stir the sugar and 1/2 tablespoon water together. If the icing doesn’t run off the spoon slowly and steadily, add more water drop by drop. Drizzle over the tart, and let it dry at room temperature.