Bakewell Tart

P1050047Here’s another #TastyTuesday recipe that I’ve not made before, though I’ve eaten and enjoyed it a time or two while out and about. Bakewell tart is a traditional English recipe dating back to the 1870’s and one Mrs. Greaves, proprietress of the Rutford Arms Inn in the village of Bakewell, Derbyshire. The story goes that Mrs. Greaves and her cook had a bit of a miscommunication about the type of tart Mrs. Greaves ordered—a jam custard tart—and her cook, instead of mixing the jam with the custard to fill the pie shell, spread jam on the bottom of the pie crust and poured the custard mixture on top. And thus the Bakewell Tart was born—happily for Mrs. Greaves and her cook the tart was a big hit with customers.

Bakewell Tart

Shortcrust Pastry:
175 grams/6 oz plain white (all purpose) flour
pinch of salt
75 g/3 oz butter, margarine or lard
30 ml/ 2 tbsp cold water

1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut the fat into small pieces and add it to the flour.

2. Using both hands, rub the fat into the flour between finger and thumb tips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the water, sprinkling it evenly over the surface. Stir it in with a round-bladed knife until the mixture begins to stick together in large lumps.

4. With one hand, collect the mixture together and knead lightly for a few seconds to give a firm, smooth dough. Use the pastry straight away or allow to rest for 30 minutes. It can also be wrapped in cling film (plastic wrap) and kept in the refrigerator for one or two days.

5. Sprinkle flour on a work surface and rolling pin, and roll out the dough to approximately 0.3 cm (1/8 inch).

For the Filling:

4 tablespoons strawberry jam
4 eggs
8 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces butter
3/4 cup ground almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

2. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry. Spread the jam over the pastry and set aside.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar together. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and when it is melted and beginning to brown, add it to the egg and sugar mixture. Fold in the almonds and place the mixture over the strawberry jam.

4. Bake until set—about 20-25 minutes—and serve hot or cold. (I definitely recommend it warm!)

If this easy recipe seems all a bit too much, you can order a Bakewell tart from the Bakewell Tart Shop & Coffee House, in the town of Bakewell, Derbyshire. They make a Bakewell tart from Mrs. Greaves’ original recipe, as well as numerous variations on the treat. They will even ship internationally, or, if you’re in the area, you can stop in for coffee and a fresh slice of Bakewell in their coffee shop.

*The shortcrust pastry recipe is from the Good Housekeeping All Colour Family Cookbook, and the filling recipe is from Great British Cooking by Jane Garmey.

New Cows on the Block


We had two newcomers arrive at the farm at the end of last week—these two are Sussex Cattle, grazing within a stone’s throw of our house. I was thrilled when my husband noticed them from our bedroom window and could tell they weren’t horses. (I come from a long line of farmers; he comes from a long line of city people, and his animal identification abilities aren’t up to much.) Then again, he knows how to work the television, which may well be a handier life skill than distinguishing a cow from a horse.

Cheese Straws


Welcome back to #TastyTuesday! I couldn’t decide what to make this week, mainly because I am in an “I’m tired of cooking” mood. That has been going on for a few weeks now and I’m hoping the feeling turns around soon. Because families. For some reason they want to eat at regular intervals every single day. But nevermind about that.

Cheese straws are something you will see at any party—great with drinks, a not-too-filling appetizer, easily (and cheaply) procured from your local grocery store. I’ve never made them, preferring to pluck a box or two off the shelf when I need some. Having made these, however, I may consider making my own from now on, if I’m in the mood to bake and not feeling too pressed for time. They are delicious still warm—buttery, flaky, cheesy. Oh, what’s not to love?

Cheese Straws
makes about 2 dozen

2 cups/220 grams flour
freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces butter
1 beaten egg
1-2 Tablespoons water
1-1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
paprika, optional

1. Sift the flour together with a pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the beaten egg, 1 Tablespoon of water and the cheeses. Mix to a rough dough. If the dough seems too dry, add the other Tablespoon of water.

2. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in waxed (greaseproof) paper and store in the fridge for half an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

4. Roll out the dough in the shape of a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. It should be about 1-inch thick.

5. Using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut the pastry into sticks, 1/2-inch wide and 4 inches long. Place the strips on 2 large baking sheets and bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the sticks are a pale golden color.

6. Transfer the cheese straws to a wire rack. When they have cooled slightly, dip the ends in a little paprika, if desired. Serve while still warm.

Tasty Tuesdays on

St. George’s Day



Here’s one of those funny English traditions that make me go… hmm. I suspect it makes a lot of English people go hmm as well.

St George’s Day is the English (note that use of “English”–that would be not Welsh, not Scottish, not Northern Irish, and thus not British) celebration of its patron saint which, for a not very religious nation, is just, well, odd. Celebrated on the 23rd of April, it’s not a national holiday and it seems to me not many people know, or perhaps care, about the day. Let’s just say patriotism is not something the English do very well–and I can say that as an American, can’t I? When it comes to patriotic fervor, America wins the prize every time. England–definitely not.

St George’s Day dates back to the year 1222. (Slightly older than 1776 then.) The George of legend is a crusading knight who saved the Libyan town of Silene from a terrible dragon. Most importantly, he saved the king’s daughter from being sacrificed to the dragon. As he was a Christian knight on a holy Crusade, the people of the town abandoned their pagan beliefs and embraced Christianity in part to thank him. George was born in Turkey, moved to Palestine, became a Roman soldier and somewhere along the line became a Christian. He protested the pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians, which eventually led to his being beheaded–and he never visited England.

Tales of his bravery eventually made their way to England, where George was adopted as patron saint and somehow became known as a special protector of the English. He is also patron saint of Scouting, which is what led me to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon in town watching my Cub Scout son march in a parade for St. George’s Day.

If you’re confused, fear not. Me too. We arrived at the designated meeting place prior to the parade on Sunday to the sound of bagpipes . . . as my husband remarked, “That’s the sound of ethnic confusion,” bagpipes being a Scottish instrument and all. Whereas in America there would be flag waving and cheering and possibly popcorn, in England, it’s polite waving, a bit of saluting the  mayor, and much puzzled head scratching as to quite what the whole point is. There are no picnics, no fireworks, no hamburgers on the grill (err, barbeque–I must remember to call it a barbeque here). In a country based on tradition, it’s a very confused, mostly overlooked, day.

But that’s what makes the English so . . . what they are. The English. Not giving a toss since 1222.

Gypsy Tart

P1050012This recipe is brand new to me–I made it, and ate it, for the very first time last week. It may be new to many of my British readers as well, as gypsy tart is a recipe specific to the County of Kent, where I live, and most Brits (so I’m told) who live outside the county won’t have heard of it.

Before I get into the story behind gypsy tart, let me just say this: if you are at all worried about your intake of sugar, calories, fat or carbohydrates, this would be the appropriate time for you to find a website dedicated to healthy food. This is not the recipe for you.

With that disclaimer aside, let me tell you all I know about gypsy tart–which, admittedly, isn’t much. The story goes that at the beginning of the 20th century, or perhaps during World War II, a lady on the Isle of Sheppey, a small island off the northern coast of Kent, saw either some gypsy children or some children who’d been evacuated from London, playing outside. The children looked malnourished, and this dear woman wanted to find a way to feed them cheaply and fatten them up a bit. She looked around her kitchen and found she had the necessary flour, sugar and butter to make a pie crust, as well as a can of evaporated milk and some dark brown sugar, and the gypsy tart was born. Eventually, the tart became a staple dessert in the institutional school kitchens of Kent, to either the delight or dismay of pupils.

It’s simple to make, needs very few ingredients, and has a lovely coffee/toffee/caramel-y flavor to it. And you don’t need–or want–to eat a big piece. A little goes a long way.

My first attempt at gypsy tart didn’t look particularly photogenic but tasted just fine–I’ll be making this again. Let me know if you’ll be giving this a try too.

Gypsy Tart
Serves 6

For the base:
175 grams/6 ounces unsalted butter
240 grams/8.5 ounces plain flour
30 ml/4 Tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
1 400 gram/14 ounce tin evaporated milk
350 grams/12 ounces dark muscovado sugar/dark brown sugar

1. Rub the butter into the flour until crumbly. Add the water and fold in very lightly until the pastry is only just beginning to form and bind. Press the pastry between two sheets of cling film (plastic wrap). The pastry will have a marbled look; this indicates how “short” the pastry is going to be.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry and use to line a 25cm/10 inch flan ring or pie plate. (I used a 9-inch pie plate and it was just a bit too small to hold all the filling and I had to pour some away.) Line with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool.

3. Whisk the evaporated milk and sugar together for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. The mix should be coffee colored (a pale, milky coffee). Pour the mix into the pastry case and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until set. The tart should now be left to cool and served cold.

Serve with cream, if you like, and enjoy!

Tasty Tuesdays on