A cherry bakewell tart is a glorious thing. It evokes emotions in people that I don’t often see in a cake. Many of us have fond memories of the eponymous Mr. Kipling Cherry Bakewells mini tarts, the perfect pastry with a thick layer of icing and a glace cherry on top, that heady scent of fake cherry and almond all wrapped up in a too sweet gloop of almond frangipane. They felt like such a treat when we were kids and no amount of homemade cakes or bakes could possibly convince us otherwise.
The memory of such pleasures almost makes me feel like it’s sacrilege to try and make it myself but the temptation to taste that wonderful bake is too hard to resist. It’s actually a pretty easy recipe to recreate and frangipane is quite indestructible even though it looks and tastes quite fancy. I’m making a simple, sweet shortcrust pastry with orange zest to compliment the almonds. The cherries come from my secret cherry trees on the road between my Belleau and the local town of Louth. The cherries always seems to ripen around my mums birthday on the 23rd July but, depending on the weather it can be a week prior or after this and you have to stay alert and move quickly or the birds and wasps will beat you to it. I only managed to grab a handful, which is all I needed for this recipe, but the ones I did grab tasted like no other cherries you’ve tasted before. Sweet and juicy and just so wonderfully tasty!
for the pastry
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- the grated zest of half an orange
- 1 tbsp milk
for the filling
- 180g butter
- 180g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 180g ground almonds
- the grated zest of half an orange
- a little of your favourite jam
- 100g cherries – halved
for the icing
- icing sugar
- orange juice
Make the pastry by placing the butter, flour, sugar and orange zest into a bowl and lightly rubbing them all together with your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs. Beat the egg into a tablespoon of milk and then pour this into the bowl and bring together with your hand shaped like a claw. You should easily be able to form a dough and clean the bowl. Flatten the pastry out into some clingfilm, wrap well and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and grease a loose-bottomed flan dish. I’ve used a 21cm x 7cm fluted oblong tart case which was actually too small for all the ingredients above. I’d suggest a round fluted tart case roughly 24cm.
After the pastry has been in the fridge for 30 mins, flour your work surface and roll out the pastry. Not too thin for this tart, but make it large enough to fit into the tin. Fork the pastry and then blind bake it in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside once baked.
If you don’t have baking beans or rice you don’t have to blind bake it. Simply place it in the fridge whilst you make the filling and when you do come to bake the finished tart, be sure to bake it sitting on a metal baking sheet in the oven. This should allow the heat to penetrate the base and avoid a soggy bottom.
To make the filling, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. This can be done by hand in a bowl and with a wooden spoon but that will take about 10 mins. It will take 5 mins in a stand mixer.
Add the eggs and the almonds and orange zest and beat in, then gently fold in the pitted cherries.
Turn the oven down to 160C. Spread a layer of your favourite jam onto the bottom of the pastry case, then pour the filling into the case and smooth over. Bake for 35 mins or until the top is golden brown and beginning to firm to touch. Remove for the oven and let it cool in the tin on a wire rack.
To make the icing, simply squeeze the juice of an orange into a few tablespoons of icing sugar and stir until you have a runny but thick paste. Drizzle this onto the cooled tart.
Eat and of course, enjoy!