A thoroughly seasonal alternative to the classic bakewell
This recipe may well be seen as blasphemy by my cousins from Derbyshire. My flirt with controversy is down to the fact I’ve ditched the conventional bakewell tart raspberry jam base for a thoroughly seasonal and really very pleasant greengage alternative. Greengages are plentiful during August. When eaten fresh, you’ll find them juicy and aromatic. They’re occasionally a little tart, but generally just a sweet, almost honey flavoured plum. When cooked down into a jam or conserve, that honey comes through even more, along with a fair amount of apricot. Make the jam in advance—it’s very easy, though you need to use a thermometer to be ensure the setting point has been reached. Also make sure you add the squeeze of lemon juice indicated in the recipe below, as this tops up the fruit’s natural pectin level. This is lovely when gently reheated and served with cold crème fraiche, though I always think bakewell tart is even better when a day old and fridge cold.
For the jam (creates around twice as much as you need for the tart):
380g caster sugar
Juice from ¼ of a lemon
For the tart shell:
125g unsalted butter, cubed and cold
250g plain flour
75g icing sugar
A pinch of table salt
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cold milk
For the filling:
250g unsalted butter
210g caster sugar
210g ground almonds
40g plain flour
De-stone the greengages. Pop them in a heavy based milk pan or saucepan. Add the sugar and the water and place on a low flame. Gently stir so that the sugar dissolves.
Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and bring the greengages and liquid to the boil. Boil for around 15-20 mins until the temperature of the ingredients reaches 105C. Stir occasionally to ensure no sugar is caramelising / burning on the side, nor the fruit catching on the bottom of the pan.
When the ingredients are at 105C, turn the heat off. Add the lemon juice, decant to a bowl or two sterilised jam jars and allow to cool and set before using.
For the tart shell, you will need a 24cm diameter, 4cm deep loose-bottomed tart mould.
Sieve the flour, salt and icing sugar from a height into a large mixing bowl then add the butter cubes. Rub these ingredients together using the tips of your fingers until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre. Mix the egg yolks and cold milk in a bowl. Add about half into the well and work into the flour, sugar and butter mixture. Add the rest of the egg mixture gradually. You may not need it all. Pat and push the pastry dough together into a ball. Don’t overwork the pastry, or it’ll be springy rather than short. Cling film the pastry ball and put it into the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Once chilled, roll the pastry ball out on a cold, floured surface until it’s about 5mm thick and plenty big enough to line your tin. This is really short pastry, so you need to be quick, firm and confident.
Gently roll the pastry backwards over your rolling pin and line the tin. Trim so that you leave only 1cm of pastry beyond the height of the mould. Patch any gaps with pastry trim. Freeze for at least 15 mins and pre-heat your oven to 180C.
Bake your tart shell blind, lined with greaseproof paper and ceramic beans, rice or dried pulses. Cook for 10 mins. Remove the paper and the weight and cook for 5 mins more. Remove from the oven, trim off the overhang with a sharp knife and allow to cool.
Turn the oven down to 150C. Cream the butter and sugar together (ideally using a food mixer—on the lowest setting). Gradually add and incorporate the almonds and then the plain flour. Then add the eggs, one by one, waiting till all the liquid is taken up by the butter and almond mix before adding the next egg.
Spoon 250g greengage jam over the cool tart shell, making sure there’s even coverage. Then gently drop large spoons of the almond mix on top of the jam (if you just scoop it all out, you may disperse the jam). Prod all of the almond splodges together and even out the top with a palette knife.
Bake the tart in the middle of the 150C oven for 55-60 mins—until the top is a lovely golden brown and just set. Allow to cool (it will carry on cooking).
Either reheat in a very low oven (60C) and serve just warm with crème fraiche, or cold with warm custard.
Recipe: Ed Smith