As kids we had a childminder called Mary and she was a great cook. Her bakewell tarts were the stuff of legend. I could never look, let alone eat, shop bought bakewell tarts because none of them would ever taste as amazing as Mary’s. There was something about Mary’s tarts! I loved the crispy lattice pastry she layered on top and the vibrant red jam oozing around the edges. I adored the almondy smell that permeated the whole house when she baked. I used to think that her bakewell looked like the kind of thing that the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland would eat.
All my family were home recently and we were reminiscing about old times. So in the spirit of remembering, I decided to make this nostalgic desert from our childhood. I carefully followed the recipe from the Hamlyn cookbook where she had gotten the recipe. We greedily tucked in and looked at each other in dismay. It didn’t taste exactly as we remembered it. It was good but not amazing. Maybe we had built it up in our heads too much. It just wasn’t the same… maybe time does change our perception of things. A week later I was going through some old books at home, when I came across an earlier edition of the Hamlyn cookbook which was all torn and wrinkled. The same bakewell tart recipe was there, but scrawled at the side were some hand written notes. A few little tweaks and additions to the original recipe made it her own. Isn’t that the great thing about cooking, you get to put your own stamp on things. I made it again using Mary’s handwritten notes. This time it tasted just how I remembered, and I was instantly transported back to the past, for just a few precious moments. Do you have any childhood memories of food that felt magical and brings you right back?
– 4 oz of plain flour, sieved
– pinch of salt
– 2 oz of butter, cubed
– 1 -2 tablespoons of cold water
– 2 oz of butter
– 2 oz of castor sugar
– 1 egg lightly beaten
– 2 oz of ground almonds
– 1 oz of ground rice
– Half a teaspoon of almond essence
– 4 tablespoons of raspberry jam
Lightly grease an 8 inch quiche tin-preferably a tin with a removable base. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. To make the pastry, first sieve the flour into a bowl. Next, add the diced butter and a pinch of salt to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Then mix in a few drops of water, just enough for the pastry to come together into a dough. Leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for twenty to thirty minutes.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until you have a round disc that’s large enough to fit into your 8 inch tin. Carefully place the pastry into the tin. Leave some pastry overlapping the edge as the pastry will shrink in the oven. You should still have a small amount of extra pastry left. Flour the surface, roll out the extra pastry and cut long thin strips of pastry for your lattice. I used a pinking shears for my pastry to get nice crimped edges. Place the extra strips of pastry on a plate and leave in the fridge. Put your pastry case in the fridge to rest as well.
To make the filling, heat the butter in a saucepan until melted. Add the sugar and cook on a low heat for about a minute. Next add the egg, ground rice, ground almonds and essence. Take the filling off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Next take your chilled pastry case out of the fridge. Spread the jam onto the pastry case. Pour the filling over the jam and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Finally arrange your pastry strips in a lattice pattern on top of the tart, fixing with a drop of milk.
Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooked, cool on a wire tray. Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.