The pretty little town of Bakewell in Derbyshire is the birth place of and synonymous with the Bakewell Tart…. A crisp, short, pastry case filled with a generous layer of raspberry or strawberry jam and topped to the brim with soft, moist, luscious almond frangipane. It seems however, that their ability to bake gluten free pastry is fundamentally flawed!
During a recent stay with relatives nearby, we did our best to pay homage to the humble Bakewell Tart and on a visit to the town, went on a google-supported search for a gluten free version of this tasty treasure. Ecstatic to find that the Bakewell Pudding Parlour had what we were looking for, we snapped up a gluten free Bakewell Tart and took it home with anticipation…. for tea.
When the time for the much awaited dessert came, it was Miss GF who took up the honours to slice and share….. As she worked her way from small’ish knife to heavier and sharper options, we realised we had been duped! This was neither a cuttable or edible tart, but (I think) merely a frisbee, masquerading as a tempting and delicious treat. In all honesty, it was the worst gluten free pastry I have ever eaten and I was grateful we had not been pulled over by the police for being in possession of an offensive weapon. I mean seriously…. check this out :
Now I know that I bake gluten free all the time, but pastry is really not rocket science and I am truly dumbfounded that a professional bakery could make such a hash of it and further, that they would deem it worthy to be sold in their well-renowned premises. It was stupidly expensive too! Frankly, we are worth more…
Returning home after the break, I remained disappointed that we had not got to enjoy this craved pie and immediately sought to rectify the matter by making my own. I scoured the internet for traditional recipes and then tweaked and played with the ingredients to make it our own. Well….. why chase after something you actually can’t have?
I have several suitable pastry recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist which would have sufficed, but as this was now elevated to a special tart, I decided to develop a new gluten free short crust, especially suited to the flavours it would contain, but also embracing nutritious alternatives to rice-based flour blends and still bakable to crisp, dry perfection. So with this post, I introduce to you my Sweet Rice-Free, Gluten Free Almond Pastry. It handles incredibly well and not only has an amazing texture (no ‘grittiness’ here), but also a flavour that is mild and smooth and ensures that the filling remains the star of the show.
Whilst I could have made my own jam, I decided to use a shop-bought top-of-the-range version… A fruit-weighted raspberry conserve that I lavishly layered across the blind-baked pastry base.
My Frangipane was a triumph. Baked to a very slight wobble, it remained soft and sumptuously moist, shot through with the heady scent and rich flavour of almond, hintingly offset by a citrus tang. If I’m honest, I am not sure the Bakewell Bakewell Tarts we saw (with or without gluten) could have come close. This was home-baked perfection… and we enjoyed every bite, whether on its own, with custard, or with cream.
The moral of this story? Don’t go to Bakewell for Bakewell Tart. You can make your own at home and without a doubt, it will not only be better, but will leave you with a happy head and heart.
I am sharing my gluten free Bakewell Tart with :
What’s for Dinner? #183 with The Lazy Gastronome
Bakewell Tart (make one 10 inch or one 8 inch + two 4 inch tarts)
- Pastry : In a large bowl, mix together the flours, xanthan gum, salt and ground almonds.
- Rub the butter cubes into the dry mix using finger tips until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Add the sugar and stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, beat together the egg and cold water.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the egg-water mix.
- Use a flat-bladed knife to blend the ingredients until they bind into a slightly sticky dough. Using flour dusted hands, knead briefly to ensure an even texture.
- Do not chill.
- Roll out (between 2 sheets of liberally flour-dusted clingfilm) to a size large enough to line the base and sides of the pie tin (if making more than one tart, split the pastry dough and roll each piece separately).
- Remove the top sheet of clingfilm and flip the pastry over into the tin, gently easing into the base and up the sides until it fits snuggly. Try and remove the clingfilm, but if the pastry has stuck to the base, just pop the whole thing into the fridge for about half an hour and the clingfilm should then come away easily. (Repeat the process for any additional tart cases).
- Trim the top edge of the pastry and place in the fridge to firm up for about half an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Line your raw pastry cases with baking paper and baking beans and blind-bake by cooking for 10 minutes, before turning the oven down to 180 C/ 350 F/Gas 4, removing the baking beans and paper and baking for a further 5 to 10 minutes, until the pastry is golden and dry.
- Remove the pastry case from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
- Once cool, smooth a generous layer of jam evenly across the base of the pastry case.
- Frangipane filling : Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5.
- In a large bowl, use a whisk to cream together the butter, caster sugar, vanilla and almond extracts until light.
- Blend the eggs together in a small bowl with a fork and then add a little at a time, beating through with a whisk to fully combine with the butter mix.
- Separately mix together the ground almonds, flour, salt and lemon zest and add to the batter mix, folding through with a wooden/silicone spoon to blend.
- Fill each tart base (on top of the jam) with frangipane batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds to decorate.
- Bake for 20 to 35 minutes (depending on the size of the tart) until the frangipane is set and golden.
- Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and dusting with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold. Delicious ‘neat’ or with custard.