Bakewell Tartlets

To me, Bakewell tarts are a quintessential part of England, but apparently (and sadly), they are quite rare in the US. My sister and I absolutely loved these growing up, and since we do not get to go to England as often as we used to, I decided to recreate this treasured delight for us.

Now, when I think of a Bakewell, I think of the sort which is sold in Tesco or other groceries or sandwich shops – that is the Mr Kipling’s variety. For those of you who don’t know, Mr Kipling:Britain as Entenmann’s:America. As I set out upon my quest for a recipe, I found that people seem to treat the Mr Kipling’s Bakewell with a significant measure of derision! Apparently, they are more interested in recreating the original Bakewell pudding (the forefather of the Bakewell tart) or a Bakewell tart from some historically correct 19th century recipe, a la Eliza Acton or Mrs Beeton. Not I! I wanted the Bakewell that I grew up with!

So I made up my own recipe: shortcrust, filled with a layer of raspberry jam, topped with almond sponge, topped with marzipan and a cherry. I believe Mr Kipling uses some sort of rolled fondant (aka sugarpaste) – I made the mistake of trying to use European fondant, which is apparently used for making the sculptures that people decorate cakes with. And I made this very sticky and messy mistake at 2AM, so when I finished clearing it up, I decided to just slap together some marzipan and put it on top, figuring that it would complement the almond sponge well (and then I made citrus fruits with the leftover marzipan).

bakewell tartlets

Bakewell Tartlets
Shortcrust Pastry
2 c (12 oz) all-purpose flour
3 oz butter
3 oz shortening
6-9 tbs ice water

Rasberry jam
8 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 c flour
2 tbs finely ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Marzipan Topping
1/2 lb finely ground almonds
1/2 lb (2 c) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 lb granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Some candied cherries, coarsely chopped

1. To make the shortcrust, sift the flour into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs. Pour the ice water over the mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it begins to come together. Shape into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
2. Preheat the oven to 350o. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to between 1/16″ and 1/8″ thick. (Because I make really tiny tartlets, I try to roll my dough as thinly as possible to leave plenty of room for the filling, which is obviously the best part). Cut into rounds and line a tartlet pan with them.
4. Prick the bottom of each tartlet shell with a fork (to prevent puffing), place in freezer for 5 mins, then prebake for 8 minutes. Remove the shells from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy, then add the eggs and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour together with the baking soda and ground almonds. Beat this into the butter mixture until fluffy.
6. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam in the bottom of each tartlet shell, then spoon some of the filling mixture on top. The fillin will puff a bit, so do not fill the shells quite to the top. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the tartlet pan on a wire rack.
7. Finally, make the marzipan topping. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground almonds and sugar. Stir in the eggs, almond extract and vanilla, then spread on top of each tartlet, and top with a cherry piece.

Makes about 32 tartlets (in my super-small pans)

Meringue Tartlets

After a summer of not doing all that much baking, I decided to kick off the school year with something a bit special.  And I was also in the mood to can things.  So, I decided to make Lemon Curd Tartlets and then jar the extra curd – but this set me wondering, what kinds of other curd are out there?  Ultimately, I ended up with lemon and mango curd.  But the tartlets just looked a little bit bare, so then I made hats of meringue for them.

I have been using the same tartlet dough recipe for years, but I’ve never really been pleased wtih the results, so I decided to try a different recipe this time.  I felt that the new recipe produced a less oily texture, and they held together better.

Also, I should add that I used a really awesome baking implement, which I’ve had for about 2 years – namely, the silicone mini-muffin tin (mold?).  It’s just great.  It does not require greasing or anything, and the tartlet shells (and mini-muffins, if I am using it for them) just slide right out!

meringue tartlets

Meringue Tartlets

3/4 c chilled butter
2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c ice water

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and place into a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the flour mixture into the butter until it begins to resemble coarse cornmeal.  Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for about 15-20 minutes.
2.  Roll into small balls about 1″ in diameter and place in miniature muffin tins. Press the balls in to form the shells.  Refrigerate the filled tins for at least 20 minutes.
3.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

Lemon Curd</em
3 eggs
5 tbs butter, melted
1 c granulated sugar
Juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1.  Beat the eggs into the melted butter; then stir in the sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the lemon juice and rind gradually.
2.  Cook in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water until thickened, stiring constantly to prevent separation.  Let cook before pouring into the baked tartlet shells.

Note: Extra curd can be canned and stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks.  It goes really well in sandwiches and on digestives.

Mango Curd
1 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1.  Beat the eggs into the melted butter; then stir in the sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the lemon juice.  Chop the mango into 1″ chunks and puree in a food processor or blender.  Stir in the mango puree into the butter mixture.
2.  Cook in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water until thickened, stiring constantly to prevent separation.  Let cook before pouring into the baked tartlet shells.

5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment [Make sure you do not skip this step, otherwise the meringues may not come off of the baking sheets]. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. This could take some time, maybe 10 minutes or more.
2.  Fill a pastry bag with the egg white mixture and pipe into 1″ circles on the baking sheets.  Bake for about 28 minutes, until the meringues appear brown and dry [I like mine really dry].  Let cool completely, and then top each filled tartlet with a meringue.