Inspired by The Great British Bake Off, these Mini British Bakewell Tarts marry a homemade kirsch cherry and raspberry jam with a soft and buttery almond frangipane filling. Perfect for tea time or anytime!
Why this recipe works
- Deep berry flavor contrasts with the soft and buttery almond frangipane filling for an unbeatable combo
- You can make the pastry and jam ahead of time, then assemble when you're ready. Or use store bought jam and/or pastry
- Mini tarts are great for portion control, and are adorable to boot!
Like just about every other baker on the planet, my younger daughter and I succumbed to the passion that is The Great British Bake Off (aka The Great British Baking Show).
We binged all the episodes available on Netflix, then the Masterclasses and holiday series. Even my non-baking husband got swept up in the mania.
Yes, we had it bad.
And, like every other baker, we started making the recipes we saw being made on the show.
But this BBC show has introduced me to a whole host of new British recipes that I'd never knew of before, like the classic Bakewell Tart.
What is a Bakewell Tart?
A traditional Bakewell Tart is a layered mix of jam and an almond flavored filling topped with sliced almonds on a sweet shortcrust pastry. It can be dusted with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.
The tart is said to be a variation of Bakewell Pudding, and both are associated with the market town of Bakewell, in Derbyshire (located in the Midlands of England). People disagree as to which dessert is older, but most agree that the basic Bakewell recipe originated in the early- to mid-18th century.
What you need
The ingredients for My younger daughter and I created our version of Bakewell Tarts by baking them in 4-inch mini tart pans, for better portion control. We used a sweetened version of my shortcrust pastry for the base, which just uses flour, butter, eggs, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Recipes for Bakewell Tarts vary as to the flavor of the jam used, and some have fresh fruit added along with the jam. Commonly, raspberry or strawberry jams (with or without the fruit added) are used.
There's even a variation called the Cherry Bakewell which uses cherry jam with candied cherries on top. Riffing on this theme, our mini Bakewell Tart recipe contains a homemade kirsch cherry and raspberry jam.
If you can't find jarred kirsch cherries, I have instructions below so you can make your own.
The portion of the Bakewell Tart recipe that's most unfamiliar to me is the frangipane.
(Frangipane? What's that?) Ah, that's what I wanted to know as well.
When baked, frangipane has a soft texture somewhat like a cake but with a more candied chew. It's almost like if a Treacle Tart was given a more pronounced cake-y structure.
How to make Mini Bakewell Tarts
The best way to make the tarts is to make the components in stages, then assemble everything at the end.
Don't let the length of the recipe fool you. You can make any substitutions you want, including using your favorite jam recipe. You can make the pastry dough and/or jam ahead of time. You can even use store bought pie crust and/or your favorite jam instead of making your own.
You're in control here.
Step 1: Make the shortcrust pastry
Shortcrust pastry is essentially an enriched pie crust, with a 3 : 2 : 1 recipe ratio of 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, and 1 part liquid, by weight. Here the egg not only adds liquid, it also adds a bit of structure that allows the tart to be released from the pan.
Start by whisking the flour, sugar, and salt together, then cutting in cold butter with a pastry blender (or use two forks or by hand) until the mixture looks like coarse sand (photo 1).
Add the egg, chilled water, and lemon juice or vinegar and mix until the dough just holds together (photo 2).
The lemon juice or vinegar is just to tenderize the crust a bit. Don't worry if the dough has a slight lemony or vinegary smell...that will dissipate during baking and/or be overwhelmed by the filling.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push together into a rough ball. Knead a few times to combine, then divide into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc with smooth edges (no cracks), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: Make the jam
While the pastry is chilling, you can make the kirsch cherry and raspberry jam. The kirsch cherries add a deep cherry flavor, and when combined with the raspberries, this jam is intense. Luckily, making this jam is very easy. If you don't want to bother, then just use a ready-made raspberry jam.
Start by draining the cherries, reserving their juice. Chop the cherries roughly into quarters.
Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the reserved juice. Pour the remaining juice into a small saucepan, then whisk in the slurry. Stir in the sugar, then add the raspberries and chopped cherries (photo 3).
Slowly bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and stir until thickened. You want the mixture to be able to form a gel (photo 4).
Simmer for 2 minutes, then mash the berries and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the raspberry seeds. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
Step 3: Make the tart shells
Now that we have our pastry and jam, it's tart time.
Roll the pastry out into a circle about 14 inches in diameter with a thickness of between ⅛ to ¼-inch (no higher than the height of two stacked quarters). Because these are mini tarts, you don't want the shell to be too thick.
Cut four circles of dough with the 6-inch round cookie cutter, re-rolling the dough if necessary (photo 5). Ease the dough circles into the tart pans then prick with a fork.
I use my tried and true foil and freeze method to blind bake my pastry shells (photo 6). Tear off a piece of foil that fits over the mini tart pan with overhang (or add extra foil as needed). Spray the foil with baking spray to keep it from sticking to the dough. Press the foil into each tart pan and tightly up against the sides. Bring the foil up over the rim and mold it to the sides of the tart pan.
Freeze the crust for 15 minutes, then bake for 12 minutes at 375°F. You don't need to use baking beads or beans using this frozen-foil method.
Remove the foil and bake the tart shells until they're golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
Step 4: Make the Almond Frangipane
While the tart shells are cooling off a bit, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour, ground almonds, and the almond extract (photo 7).
Step 5: Assemble the tarts
Spread the cooled jam over each of the pastry shells. Top each with the frangipane and gently spread it to the edges of the tart, smoothing out the surface with a small offset spatula.
Bake for 10 minutes, then scatter the sliced almonds on top and bake for a further 10 to 12 minutes until the filling is golden (photo 8).
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
It is said that a Bakewell Tart is a variation from the older Bakewell Pudding. Both desserts are layers of jam and an almond filling. The major difference seems to be that the pudding is made in puff pastry (like a free-form pastry) or on a cake-like sponge. The tart is baked in a more formal shortcrust pastry shell.
Kirsch cherries are just chopped frozen or fresh cherries that have been soaked in Kirsch (aka Kirschwasser), an unsweetened clear fruit brandy distilled from cherries. If you don't have jarred kirsch cherries available, just chop 2 cups of pitted cherries and transfer to a jar. Pour Kirsch liqueur to cover the cherries and allow to sit for a few hours or overnight.
Use the spoon test from Epicurious: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Trying again a minute or two later, the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.
If you don't want (or can't find) Kirsch, you can replace the kirsch cherries with 1 cup (120g) of raspberries and ½ cup water in the jam recipe, or just use store bought raspberry jam.
A lovely snack for tea time or any time
Bakewell Tarts offer so much flavor and texture! You have that spongy, buttery, almond frangipane set against the deep berry sweetness of the jam. The crunchy pastry shell and sliced almonds add even more to the tart.
And they're just so darn cute!
Mini Bakewell Tarts are perfect for portion control, and freeze well. And that's good, so you can have some ready to go anytime.
Would it be too on the nose to say these mini tarts go great with a cup of tea?
Set your own technical challenge, and be the star baker for your family and friends.
On your mark...get set...BAKE!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Pies and tarts can be sweet or savory, and there are so many fillings from which to choose. From fruits to nuts and custards, there's bound to be a pie or tart that catches your fancy! Here are a few choices to try.
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Mini British Bakewell Tarts (Almond and Jam Tarts)
- potato masher
For the shortcrust pastry
- 1⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, see Recipe Notes
- 1 large egg
- 2 to 3 teaspoons water, chilled
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, white vinegar, or cider vinegar
For the kirsch cherry and raspberry jam
- 1 cup kirsch cherries, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup raspberries
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Make the shortcrust pastry dough: Measure your ingredients using a kitchen scale. It's the most accurate and will give the most consistent results.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt.
- Toss the cubed butter into the flour mixture, then use a pastry blender to cut it into the flour until coarse, pea-sized crumbs appear. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg, chilled water, and lemon juice or vinegar together. Add to the dough and mix until the dough just holds together.
- Do not over mix the dough (you want to keep that butter cold and separate from the flour). Don't worry if the dough has a slight lemony or vinegary smell...that will dissipate during baking and/or be overwhelmed by the filling.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push together into a rough ball. Knead a few times to combine, then divide into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc with smooth edges (no cracks), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. If you refrigerate the dough for more than 30 minutes, you may have to rest it for a few minutes at room temperature before it will be soft enough to roll out.
- Make the kirsch cherry and raspberry jam: While the dough is chilling, drain the cherries, reserving the juice. Chop the cherries roughly into quarters if needed.
- Make a slurry with the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the reserved juice. Pour the remaining juice into a small saucepan, then whisk in the slurry. Stir in the sugar, then add the raspberries and chopped cherries.
- Place over a medium heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until thickened. Simmer for 2 minutes. The jam is ready when it will form a gel (see the Recipe Notes below). Mash the berries with a potato masher.
- Remove from heat, and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the raspberry seeds. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Blind bake the shortcrust pastry: Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Lightly dust a rolling surface with flour. Use even pressure to roll the dough out front to back and on the diagonals. Turn and loosen the dough occasionally as you continue to roll the pastry out into a circle about 14 inches in diameter with a thickness of between ⅛ to ¼-inch (no higher than the height of two stacked quarters).
- Cut four circles of dough with the 6-inch round cookie cutter, re-rolling the dough if necessary. Transfer the dough to a mini tart pan. Press the crust into the pan, up on the sides and leaving the dough overhanging the rim. Use a rolling pin to roll over the rim to create a neat edge.
- Save the dough scraps to repair the crust later if needed. Prick the bottom all over with a fork.
- Tear off a piece of foil that fits over the mini tart pan with overhang (or add extra foil as needed). Spray the foil with baking spray to keep it from sticking to the dough. Press the foil into each tart pan and tightly up against the sides. Bring the foil up over the rim and mold it to the sides of the tart pan. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
- Place the tart pans to a quarter sheet baking pan. Bake the tarts with the foil on for 12 minutes. You don't need to use baking beads or beans using this frozen-foil method.
- Carefully remove the foil from each tart pan. If any of the shells have puffed up, gently press it back down. Any tears or cracks in the shell can be repaired with the dough scraps. Return the tarts to the oven and bake until they're golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
- Remove the tarts from the oven to cool on the baking pan while you make the almond frangipane topping.
- Make the almond frangipane topping: Lower the oven to 350 °F.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour, ground almonds, and the almond extract.
- Assemble the tarts: Spread the cooled jam over each of the pastry crusts. Top each with the frangipane and gently spread it to the edges of the tart, smoothing out the surface with a small offset spatula.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then scatter the sliced almonds on top and bake for a further 10 to 12 minutes until the filling is golden and a cake tester is clean.
- Allow the tarts to cool completely in the tart pans before removing. Dust with powdered sugar, and slice each tart into 3 servings. Enjoy!
- Bakewell Tarts can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a few days. They can also be frozen, wrapped with plastic wrap and sealed in an airtight bag for longer storage.