Steeped in centuries of tradition, the bakewell tart is perhaps the quintessential pastry of England, invited to every party, from daily tea time nibbles to grand celebrations alike. Jam and almond frangipan daintily layered in a shortcrust shell, many variations of this simple assembly exit, creating controversy amongst fiercely loyal fans. The question is: Soft, custard-like interior, or fluffy, cake-like crumb? Although the bakewell failed to make such a splash across the pond here in America, never providing me the opportunity to try it previously, I had always believe that the pudding-eque version would be far better. What’s the point of baking a sponge cake into a rigid crust, anyway? It was due time to finally see what the big deal was for myself, so this month’s Daring Baker challenge was quite appealing.
The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.
Being a crazy yankee though, I just had to go muck things up and make a dessert that looked absolutely nothing like a tart, bakewell or otherwise.
All the components are there, only rearranged and reinterpreted. Strawberry jam demispheres, softly jelled with agar, form the base, on top of which rests a slab of chocolate shortcrust pastry. A deep green pistachio frangipan, even more dense and rich than I could have imagined, follows to complete the standard requirements for a bakewell tart. Garnished simply with fresh strawberries, mint leaves, and chocolate decorations, it was fun to eat as it was to make. Although I would have prefered the frangipan to be slightly lighter, it was undeniably delicious.
No longer a foreign oddity, I can easily see the appeal of the bakewell tart. If for nothing else, the simplicity of the recipe allows a lot of room for creativity, and truly lets fantastic ingredients shine. That’s the sort of dessert that I think everyone can appreciate!