Blackcurrant Bakewell SquaresPosted: April 30, 2012
I leave for my holidays tomorrow and, in honour of a short jaunt to France, I made a crêpe cake. It involved making crêpe after tedious crêpe, sandwiching them together with a cream cheese filling and topping it off with a butterscotch sauce. It was reasonably tasty, but most of the photos make it look like a blob. Not very appealing. I decided to make something new instead, something which would photograph better and would use up the blackcurrants I had lying around. I checked Food Network, Epicurious and all my standard American favourites, but I couldn’t get anything beyond blah recipes involving crème de cassis. I guess I’d never thought much about blackcurrants before either, but then I was lucky enough to get a pound or so from my colleague, who picked them while at her dacha last summer. This subsequently made me think of jam and, after doing some research, I learned of the bakewell tart, apparently quite the classic in England (as are all things berry–just check out some of these). I can only make rectangular-shaped things, given that I have one baking pan, but this seemed the perfect recipe to herald in the arrival of summer berries and nice weather.
This was my first foray into jam-making, and it proved really, really easy. If you have some fruit on hand, especially a high pectin one like blackcurrants, hop to it and make this super-easy jam. It was so easy, in fact, that I am far too lazy to retype the instructions; they’re easily available over here on BBC’s website.
Bakewell Squares (adapted from a Waitrose recipe)
The most popular version of this is actually the bakewell tart, which I’m sure would have been lovely had I had the right equipment. Failing that, it worked nicely in my standard glass baking dish. It’s a pretty easy recipe, despite the many steps, and it works with jams of all sorts. You certainly don’t have to make the jam. I must say that I was too lazy to go out and buy additional ingredients, so my topping was a little on the slight side. I essentially just halved the recipe. I’ve given listings for both what I did and for the original, thicker topping. I think I’ll go for more next time.
- 200g plain flour
- 2tbsp sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 2 large beaten egg yolks
- 100g softened unsalted buter (I ran out and used 50g instead)
- 3 large eggs, beaten (2 eggs for me)
- 125g cane sugar (70g–you get the idea)
- pinch of vanilla sugar or 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 150g ground almonds (I used about 80g of both almonds and walnuts, as those were what I had on hand)
- Sugar, to dust on top
- Around 3/4 cup jam for the middle (I’ll bet strawberry would be particularly delicious against the almonds)
Make the pastry by combining the flour, sugar and salt. Rub in the cold butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Then add in half the beaten egg yolks, mixing until you have a soft, slightly dry pastry. Now you can roll out your dough to fit your tart/baking pan, but I was honestly much too lazy for this. Just press it into the pan with your fingers and put the tray into the fridge for a half-hour. Preheat your oven to 190°C. When your 30 minutes is up, prick the dough all over, then put it in the oven for 15 minutes or until it’s golden brown. Take it out and let it cool a bit, then spread your jam over the top. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C
Now get started on the filling: beat together the soft butter and sugar, then slowly add the eggs a little at a time. Be careful not to let the mixture curdle; ensuring that all the ingredients are at room temperature will help a lot. Add the almond/vanilla extract, then fold in the ground almonds. Spoon the mixture over the jam and level it out with the back of the spoon. Place it back in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden and slightly firm to the touch. Take it out, let it cool slightly, then sprinkle with cane or icing sugar. Eat up.