Today is the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She is known for founding devotions to the Sacred Heart. I used to be terrified of those images of Jesus and his sacred heart. Creepy. It took me ages to get over it and to work out that a devotion to the Sacred Heart was a simple commitment to a radical type of love. Not that that is Maggie May's fault, she didn't draw the pictures. So, today instead of heart shaped confectionery, which has a tendency to remind me of St. Valentine and is also creepy, I am going to go for something from the heart of the kitchen that reaches the heart of the recipients. Bakewell Tart.
I have never seen a recipe for Bakewell. My Ma makes it, see? And she never uses a recipe, neither does she measure anything; it is always a handful of this and a spoonful of that. So, to produce this post I had to sit and take notes - then pass on the best advice I can. It is truly a heart warming tart though, I promise. Serve this during in Parliamentary questions and everyone would start talking about how much, really, they have in common and start a joint effort towards the common good. It stops a family row in seconds, believe me.
4 oz Ground Almonds
Half a jar of Apricot Jam
A few drops of Almond Essence
A handful of Flaked Almonds
8 oz Self Raising Flour
Tsp Baking Power
6 1/2 oz Butter
3 medium eggs
2 Tblsp Icing Sugar
Heat the oven to 190C. Grease a tart tin - ours is round, with a loose bottom and a shaped edge. It is about 12in across.
Rub 4 oz of the butter in to the flour with a tablespoon of icing sugar and the baking powder. Use your hands. You can't rush this, it takes a while. Have a cup of coffee at the ready to drink as you go along. It goes into buttery crumbs, eventually. Then take two handfuls of these crumbs out, and put them in a bowl to one side. Add two tablespoons of water to your big bowl of crumbs, and bring the pastry together with a knife. Flour the work surface, and roll out the pastry to the shape of the tin. Place the pastry into the tin and carefully 'knock it in'. This means fit it to all the ridges round the edge of the tin to give a beautiful shape to the final tart. There was a lot of pastry sticking up over the edges of the tin, and Ma used a rolling pin to cut the off using the sharp edge of the tin. Basically, make sure everything fits well.
Spread very carefully, 4 tablespoons of Apricot jam over the pastry. Get into all the edges and corners, but be careful not to make any ripples or holes in the pastry. OK, so today is a feast relating to the Sacred Heart - go mad, use Raspberry or Strawberry jam if you like.
Put 2 1/2 oz butter in a sauce pan and melt gently. In your bowl (which is now empty) crack three eggs and place 4 oz of sugar. Whisk until creamy and a bit fluffy. Add 4 oz of ground almonds, and the crumbs you saved from earlier and mix with a spoon. Add 1/2 teaspoon of almond essence. Add the melted butter and keep stirring. Pour the whole lot into the pastry casing.
Here is where you can get creative. If you have any pastry left over you could roll it into strips and and cut it into the traditional criss cross Bakewell pattern. Or, make a heart shape. Or whatever. We just threw a handful of flaked almonds over the top though.
Bake in the oven for between 20 - 30 mins.
Then have with a nice cup of tea.