Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vegan English baking: Individual vegan bakewell tarts

This is the first of several English-themed posts that I have planned for October, with the goal of veganising a few of my favourite English baked goods and desserts. I have been meaning to do this for a while, and the combination of Vegan Mofo and our recent time in the U.K. prompted me to jump in now.


Today, we have bakewell tart, a layered dessert of shortcrust pastry, jam and (in non-vegan versions) a baked egg/almond sponge. It isn't a dessert I grew up with and I can't actually remember when I first tried it. I do have a memory of a particularly good slice in an English pub one winter when I was aged 17 (or perhaps 20...), and I know I  have always enjoyed the tart when it has come my way.

The Mr Kipling individual cherry bakewell tarts were also present in my English grandparent's house when we spent Christmas with them and the dessert is thus linked slightly to Christmas in my mind. My individual tarts are somewhat inspired by those commercial versions, with the white icing and cherry topping not being seen in more traditional recipes.

There are a few versions of the history of bakewell tart, all of which emphasise that it should be distinguished from bakewell pudding. Opinion differs on precisely how to make that distinction, but it is generally accepted that the pudding came first (even from as early as Tudor times) and that it uses puff pastry instead of shortcrust pastry. The pudding is also more likely to be served warm.


As for the tart itself, there are several stories regarding its origin. They all feature jam being placed under the eggy sponge mixture by mistake, with the intention being for the jam to go on top. The error was enjoyed and the tart was born. The person most commonly cited as responsible is a servant of the landlady Mrs Greaves, who owned a hotel in the town of Bakewell in the 1820s. Bakewell the town is located in Darbyshire in the Lake District and, sadly, is derived from 'Beadeca's Well' rather than a more literal interpretation of good bakers!

There are quite a few vegan recipes for bakewell tart around. Theresa from The Tropical Vegan posted Flicking the V's Cromwell Tart last year, which recommends marmalade as an alternative to jam. Other recipes can be found here, here and here. The one I used was from Live Long and Vegan and incorporated pastry from scratch and white icing (although no cherries).

Although most of the recipes available make full-sized tarts, I wanted to make individual ones. They seemed more fun, and also more practical - Mr Bite doesn't like almond flavours and thus wouldn't share a larger tart with me.


The tarts are really quite easy to make, and I can say with confidence that they are worth the effort required. I used almond essence in addition to ground almonds, but you could omit this if you want more subtle almond flavours.

Individual vegan bakewell tarts (with a cherry)
Makes 4 small tarts - double the ingredient quantities if desired
Vegan


Ingredients
Dough
50g plain flour 
10g ground almonds
10g icing sugar 
25g non-dairy spread (I used Nuttelex)
Water, as needed to thin out the dough (I used about 1 tsp)

Filling
~4 tbsp jam (I used 100% fruit in strawberry flavour)

25g ground almonds
20g self-raising flour 
15g sugar 
½ tsp baking powder 
1 tsp vegetable oil 
1.5 tbsp cold water 
Few drops almond essence (optional)

Icing
100g icing sugar
1 - 2 tsp water
4 glace cherries


Method
Preheat your oven to 180'C and spray 4 pans of a muffin pan with non-stick oil. Cut circles of non-stick baking paper and line the bottom of each pan.

Dough
Combine the dry dough ingredients, then add the non-dairy spread and mix through with your fingers to create a smooth dough. Add water if required. Roll the dough to about 0.5cm thick and cut into four pieces. Shape into the muffin pans to create a tart base. 

Prick the bottom of each pastry tart with a fork and bake at 180'C for 5 - 7 minutes, or until the pastry is starting to firm up but not yet fully cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Filling:
While the tarts are cooling, combine the almond meal, self-raising flour, sugar and baking powder for the filling in a small bowl. Add the vegetable oil, water and almond essence and mix to combine.

Add jam to the bottom of each tart shell, enough to cover the base fully. I used about one tablespoon per tart. Then spoon the almond filling mix over the jam and return to the oven (still 180'C) to bake for 12 - 16 minutes, until the topping is risen and a skewer inserted in the tart comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Icing:
To make the icing, combine the icing sugar and water and mix well to combine. The icing should be thick. Spread generously on each cooled tart and top with a cherry. Set in the fridge before eating.


These are not at Mr Kipling standard in appearance, but they were very enjoyable to eat. Using bigger moulds for the pastry shells would help a bit with the neatness too, as my muffin pans weren't perfectly suited to getting shells with sufficient edge.


All in all, I found these very fun to make and very enjoyable to eat in homemade form. I am quite thrilled to know they are available to me egg-free and suspect they may appear in my kitchen again at some stage!

Do you like bakewell tart? If so - icing and cherry, yay or nay?


This post is part of my Vegan Month of Food contributions for October 2012. 


32 comments:

  1. Teehee. They look like boobies.

    And, tomorrow, I turn eight years old.

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    1. Teehee. Viper would have said that straight away I'm sure.

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    2. And now I'm feeling very old, because it really didn't occur to me until you made your comment :P

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    3. Okay, so according to you two I'm both a man AND immature. THANKS YEAH I LOVE YOU TOO GREAT.

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    4. And there I was thinking of you as youthfully vibrant and me as a wizened old woman who can't see female anatomy when it's staring me in the face ;)

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    5. So many jokes I could make right now... :P

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  2. I have never heard of the bakewell tart. Where do you live? I am in the states (IA) so not as popular here, BUT if it is sweet and looks as good as those, I am ALL IN!!!

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    1. I was wondering if any Americans would have heard of it...I'm in Australia but we get more British foods here (and I have had bakewell tart in England) so I imagine it's more common here than where you are :)

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  3. they look exceedingly good! I am now trying to remember if I have tasted these - I think I have and I think I would love a vegan version without the eggs - I have a few individual tart tins that I should try these with - they rarely get out of the cupboard - am looking forward to the rest of the british series

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    1. Individual tart tins would definitely help with the neat aspect! Please let me know how you like them if you do try them, from your recipes I think they would be something you'd like but of course you'd need to try them to know for sure. They are remarkable easy for something that traditionally needed eggs.

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  4. Oh my goodness, Kari these are SO CUTE!

    I've never actually tried/heard of a Bakewell Tart before now - these sound lovely though... prefect for a spot of afternoon tea, no? You just need some dainty little china tea cups and a quaint garden.... I can just imagine it.

    Honestly though, I would scrap the cherry - glace fruit has always made me gag!!

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    1. Normally glace fruit makes me gag too, but for these they just seem right :) Of course you could omit it though, and even the icing if you'd prefer (definitely sugar in the icing!). They would certainly be just right with some china tea cups and an afternoon tea garden setting :-)

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  5. I am good at making vegan substitions when it comes to meals, but I am less at ease when it comes to vegan baking.
    These look just fabulous!!

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  6. I love bakewell tarts. A lot. I think they're great with or without the cherry, but the cherry is like... is like... the cherry on top, you know?

    *runs off to hide after low-quality joke*

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    1. Bahahaha...I like the low-quality joke :)

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  7. I've never had a bakewell tart before but I can tell you right now I'll be starting off with your version! These look adorable AND delicious!

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    1. I'm so glad you like the look of them Joanne :) They are a really fun dessert!

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  8. I haven't ever heard of a bakewell tart and this looks amazing!

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    1. Thanks so much - and thanks for stopping by!

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  9. OooOO I really want some of this! I've never heard of it nor have I tried it~but it sounds delish. Hope you have a great day!

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  10. I think all bakewell tarts should have a cheery on top :)

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    1. Cherries are cheery so I figure that both of your comments work :D Thank you!

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  12. These look gorgeous Kari. The red and white is so pretty. I've never made these before but I can imagine they must be wonderful xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - I do hope you enjoy them if you try them!

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  13. Seriously could these be any cuter?! I also love the small recipe portion, perfect to try out. I'm thinking these will be a sure thing on my holiday menu!

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    1. The small recipe portion was a winner for vegan mofo :) I can only get through so many things when I'm making recipes nearly daily!

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  14. Ooh, icing. THAT is what was missing from my bakewell tart early in the year!

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  15. They sound tasty - always looking for things to feed my vegan friends. And just to be very English, Bakewell is in the peak district - http://www.bakewell.co.uk/

    There are many versions but haven't found a vegan recipe for Bakewell pudding (shortcrust pastry, jam, frangipani/frangipane(http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/frangipane)).

    The rumour goes it was 'tarted up' with icing and a cherry (which plays up to Hannah's first comment :))

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  16. Just made these, very tasty, thank you!

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