Saturday 12 August 2017

cherry and pistachio bakewell tart

I had big plans for Christmas in July this year, they didn't happen, but this pistachio and cherry Bakewell tart did. 

When I was as kid in the UK, I loved Mr Kipling's cherry bakewells, with their thick layer of white icing and sticky glacé cherry. I'm hoping this is a slightly more sophisticated take, I've lost the icing and glacé cherry, and swapped a portion of the ground almonds for pistachios. 

Cherries and pistachios just sing Christmas, so I broke my buying out of season rule and spent a small fortune on imported cherries from America. I think it was worth it, that jar of cherry jam might keep me going until summer, when it's Christmas for real and the boxes of local cherries are piled high...

Cherry and Pistachio Bakewell Tart

I'll pretty much always bake from scratch if I have the time, and while the recipes for cherry jam and sweet shortcrust pastry are included below, you can absolutely swap them out for store bought. If you're in Australia try Careme pastry, it's fabulous!

1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
125g cherry jam
200g butter
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g ground almonds
100g pistachios, plus 25g for decoration
30g plain flour
zest 1 lemon
butter for greasing

• lightly grease a 28cm pie tin or flan dish, preheat your oven to 180°C conventional, 160°C fan
• roll pastry to approximately 3mm thick, carefully line your flan dish, gently pressing the pastry into the corners; prick the base with a fork, line with baking paper, then fill completely with baking weights. (I have a canister of rice that I use, I've tried ceramic pastry weights, but find the small grains of rice really get into the corners to give neat edges.) Roughly trim the excess pastry, leaving about 1cm extra above the edge of your dish, this will be trimmed after the tart is baked, giving you a really clean finish
• bake pastry for 15 minutes, remove the baking weights and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until golden, set aside to cool


• put the pistachios, ground almonds and flour into a food processor, blitz until the pistachios are finely ground
• cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition
• fold through the ground nuts, flour and lemon zest
• spread the cherry jam over the tart base, spoon the filling over the jam, spreading carefully to level
• bake for 35-40 minutes until puffed, golden, and just set in the centre
• while the tart is baking, finely chop the extra 25g pistachios, set aside
• leave the tart to cool, then using a sharp serrated knife, trim away the excess pastry
• dust with icing sugar, garnish with a couple of fresh cherries and the chopped pistachios
• serve at room temperature with cold whipped cream (it’s equally delicious slightly reheated and served with ice cream, very convenient really as this is a big tart!)

cherry jam

This recipe makes much more jam than you'll need for the tart, so store it in a sterilised jar and it will keep for months in the pantry, 3 weeks in the fridge once opened. There are many ways to sterilise jam jars, I use this method from

500g pitted cherries, frozen are fine, if you go with fresh, the cherry pitter is your friend
large strip of lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
500g jam sugar

• roughly chop half to two thirds of the cherries, the more you chop, the finer you jam will be
• put the whole and chopped cherries in a pan with the lemon zest and juice; bring to the boil over a medium heat, stir occasionally until the cherries are juicy and tender, likely around 15 minutes
• pop a couple of saucers into the freezer
• add the sugar to the pan, stir until dissolved, increase the heat to high and boil for 5 minutes
• take the pan off the heat, time for the wrinkle test! 
• take a saucer out of the freezer, spoon a little jam onto the cold saucer then pop it back into the freezer; retrieve your saucer after 30 seconds, gently push the jam with your finger, if it wrinkles it's ready! If not, boil the jam for another 2 minutes, re-test, repeat if necessary
• pour the hot jam into your hot jars, and seal; when cool, store in a cool dark place
• once a jar has been opened, store it in the fridge

sweet shortcrust pastry

250g plain flour, plus a little extra to flour your bench
60g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten

• tip the flour and icing sugar into a food processor, pulse to combine, add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
• add the egg, pulse until the dough just comes together, lightly dust the bench with flour, turn the pastry out onto the bench and shape into a disc; wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for an hour; take it out of the fridge approximately 10 minutes prior to rolling

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