On a dark November evening, the air wrapped thickly with fog, my street becomes transformed. As I run, everything seems muffled, and all I can hear is the wet dripping of shadowy trees above me. I find myself jumping at loud noises, easily startled by large shapes that suddenly emerge to simply reveal an old lady holding an umbrella walking her dog.
I also see glimmers of festivity creeping into sight. Bright lights are starting to sparkle around houses, it’s glowy and glittery in shops, and there are signs for Christmas trees for sale. It’s also an excuse for even more baking than I normally get up to. I’ve got a cluster of bakewell tarts cooling in the kitchen, and I can’t wait to tuck in.
I love the combination of crisp buttery pastry, tart raspberry jam, fluffy almond sponge, and crunchy toasted almonds. It’s that combination of four amazing things into something even greater than the sum of its parts.
I much prefer a light almond sponge to the denser nut-heavy versions that are also floating about in recipe-land. As with other sponges, the trick really does seem to be gallons of patience. First, waiting for the butter to soften, then an arm of steel to cream the butter and sugar into a pale, almost meringue-like cloud.
It seems a billion times harder to get butter to soften in the cold Winter months, and by the time I was finished, I had a very sore arm and a blistered finger to boot!
It’s always worth it though. To me, bakewell tarts always seem to have a bit of air of festivity around them. A bit more than just your ordinary tea time treat! I reckon that with Christmas coming up, you could happily turn these into a boozy mincemeat version that could be the best of both worlds!
Mini Bakewell Tarts
- 200g shortcrust pastry
- raspberry jam
- 110g butter
- 110g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 55g ground almonds
- 55g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp almond extract
- flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Roll out the pastry and cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Press them into the holes of a muffin tin. Prick the base of each pastry circle with a fork.
Make the almond sponge filling by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then whisk in the eggs and almond extract. Finally fold in the flour and ground almonds, and add a little milk to loosen the mixture to softly dropping consistency.
Spread a small dash of jam into each pastry case, and top with a spoonful of almond sponge. Sprinkle with ground almonds and bake for around 15-20 minutes until golden. Unmould from the muffin tin, and set onto a cooling rack to cool before eating.