HomeHistorical 1940s Family Recipe Friday: Bakewell Tart

Family Recipe Friday: Bakewell Tart

Posted in : 1940s, Historical on by : Sarah Tags: , , ,

Ok, so I’m a bit late posting this, I might sneak it in just before midnight… But I’m still on schedule for posting either way. It just wouldn’t have an alliterative title if I posted it on Saturday.

This is the first in what will be many recipes from a handwritten cookbook that came over from England with my Gran in the 1940s. We’re not entirely sure who wrote the main part of it… Some of the recipes added at the beginning and end are definitely in her handwriting, but the main body seems to have been written by either her sister or one of her cousins. It’s a fascinating old book, the handwriting is lovely and some of the recipes are quite interesting. It includes recipes for many many British puddings, scones and ordinary dinners as well as some rather obscure things, from pickled broccoli to cough syrup (containing laudanum!) and saline solution.

I had some jam left over from the pancakes on Tuesday and decided a bakewell tart would be a great way to use some up. Bakewell tart is a classic as far as I’m concerned, but to those not acquainted with British desserts, it’s a bit of a strange mix, kind of a pie and a cake at the same time, with jam. The flavors are mainly whatever fruit jam you use plus the almond flavor of the cake part. Some recipes have actual ground almond, but this one just uses extract, or as the recipe calls it, essence of almond.

I used mum’s recipe for pastry, which she initially gave to me as “Half as much fat as flour, and enough water to make a dough.” (I’ll post actual quantities below) and the instructions from another recipe, since this one left off after adding the flour to the dough – no temperature or baking time given, and no instructions on how to actually assemble the tart. I guess whoever wrote it assumed Gran must have known that bit. So this one isn’t really a transcription. I took the list of ingredients, used other recipes to fill in the missing bits, and wrote the instructions myself.

I also doubled the recipe (the original must have been for a very small pan) and added the icing… initially just to make it pretty (the tart is sweet enough that it really doesn’t need the extra sugar), but I think the lemon juice in it really adds something to the overall flavor.

Bakewell Tart (1940s, Gran's cookbook) ✔

Classic bakewell tart - jam and almond flavored sponge inside a pastry crust, with a thin glaze.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: English



  • 5 oz flour
  • 1 1/2 oz shortening
  • 1 oz margarine
  • around 1/4 cup water


  • 3-5 tbsp jam or preserves raspberry is traditional, but do what you like!
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4 oz rice flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract


  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 glacee cherry optional


  • Cut the butter and shortening into the flour for the pastry with a knife or pastry cutter.
  • Once there are only small crumbs of butter in the flour, add the water, slowly, stirring until it just comes together. You might need a tablespoon or two more than 1/4 cup. You basically just want it to just barely come together into one ball of dough.
  • Roll out the pastry and use it to line the bottom and sides of a pie dish.
  • Spoon the jam onto the pastry in the pie dish and spread it over the bottom.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, and beat in the eggs and the almond extract.
  • Stir in the flour and baking powder. It should be something like a stiff batter or a very soft dough.
  • Spread the batter/dough carefully over the jam in the pie crust. It will probably not go perfectly, and it's fine if the jam shows a little around the edges, the cake part will puff up a lot and cover up the messy bits.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in a 450 degree oven.
  • Allow the tart to cool before you glaze it. Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together, pour over the top of the tart, and spread it around a bit. Put a cherry in the middle (if you want to) just to make it look like a proper bakewell tart, and enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *