I used to live not all that far from the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, birthplace of the traditional British Bakewell Tart. The origin of the Bakewell Tart is highly contested within this small town, as is the location of the bakery that is its actual birth place. Some say Bakewell Tart was originally a pudding and others maintain it is and always has been a tart – a layer of pastry topped with jam and fruit and then further topped with a sponge cake mixture made using almond flour. Sometimes these are topped with icing and a maraschino cherry after they are baked.
I have tasted all three versions but I have no wish to be drawn into any controversy so will not share my opinion as to which is the most authentic. Honestly, I have no idea! Frankly, I enjoy all kinds of Bakewells but I do prefer a traditional tart without the icing and it is this that these Bakewell Tart Squares are based on.
This recipe is far easier to make than it looks, especially if you use ready made pastry which I confess I often do. It’s a great year round recipe as you can use fresh or frozen raspberries. Best of all, it keeps really well. As long as it isn’t high summer, I keep the Bakewell Squares covered at room temperature and just cut them as I needed them – up to five days later they still taste amazing and are deliciously moist. In fact, I honestly prefer to cut and serve the Bakewell Tart Squares the day after they are made. Leaving the Bakewell to sit at room temperature allows the flavours to deepen and meld in a most agreeable fashion and the squares are easier to cut when it’s completely cool too.
You can use any raspberry jam you like for this recipe but recently I found a very unique one – Fox Gourmet Foods Raspberry & Earl Grey Jam.
Unlike my husband and son, I am not a fan of Earl Grey tea, so I wasn’t sure about this particular combination until I was persuaded to buy a jar in our local cheese shop. Oh my goodness! The balance of flavours is just amazing. The jam doesn’t taste specifically of Earl Grey tea, all I could taste was a glorious balance of citrus and bergamot enhancing all the raspberry goodness. I’ve already gone through two jars in baking and on toast, and I’ve gone back and purchased some of their gorgeous-sounding fruit curds as well.
My Raspberry Bakewell Tart Squares are lovely served just as they are for tea or a snack, or turn them into dessert by serving them with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream alongside. If raspberries are in season, I tumble a few of them over top as well.
- 1 sheet sweet pastry to fill a 9 x 13 inch pan (or use homemade pastry)
- 1¼ cups ground almonds
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus a bit extra to grease the pan
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ⅓ cup raspberry jam
- ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries, slightly thawed if frozen
- ¼ cup flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C or 170°C for a fan oven).
- Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch rectangular tart pan. I like to use one with a loose bottom.
- Roll the pastry out to fit the pan or unroll the pastry sheet and fit the pastry into the pan, making sure it goes up the sides a little bit. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork several times.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the pastry is just beginning to cook. It shouldn't be taking on any colour yet.
- Remove the pastry from the oven and set aside to cool while you get on with making the sponge cake part of the recipe.
- Mix the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer.
- Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Beat in the almond extract.
- With the electric mixer on low, add the ground almond and flour mixture spoonful by spoonful. Beat the mixture for a minute or so, until smooth.
- To assemble the tart, spread the raspberry jam over the bottom of the pastry using a pastry brush.
- Scatter the raspberries over top. I like to make sure the tops are all pointing up because I'm obsessive like that - but you don't have to be. They often get knocked over when the cake mixture is spread over top anyway!
- Dollop the cake mixture in medium size spoonfuls over top of the raspberries and spread it gently to cover the raspberries.
- Scatter with the flaked almonds.
- Bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes (watching carefully after 25 minutes) or until the cake mixture is cooked and bounces back when pressed lightly with your finger.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting in squares to serve.
If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like Chocolate and Raspberry Jam Cake.