Effie’s Bakewells {or maybe they’re Maid of Honour tartlets}


Effie was my nan:

She was a good baker and these were her greatest bake.

Well, my brother and I certainly thought so when we were children, we hoovered them up given half the chance!  

They were always refered to as bakewells, it wasn’t until I grew up that I discovered true bakewells were almondy.

These simple tarts are just light, crisp pastry with a sweet jam filling and topped with plain sponge, glorified jam tarts if you will. I think they may be Maid of Honour tarts, although many of those seem to be made with cream cheese.

I love them just the way they are, even resisting the urge to add a drop of vanilla to the sponge batter.

My nan used to keep them in a slightly battered old biscuit tin, you know the sort, the flat tins you get for Christmas full of fancy chocolate biscuits with a photograph of some distant Scottish loch and mountain range on the lid. It was kept in a drawer, we knew the sound of that drawer opening!

My grandparents lived in a post-war pebble-dash covered Pre-fab, the early fifties kitchen barely altered. The house felt rather modern for me, we lived in a little Victorian cottage but looking back it was charmingly 50’s retro. She was 50’s retro too really, in her 50’s cat eye specs and her 50’s house dresses. I have very few photographs of her, maybe she didn’t like having her picture taken {my other nan, heaps of photographs, she was a glam-nan!}.

That’s Effie on the far right of the picture, at my Parent’s wedding {Glam-nan is in the purple!}, unfortunately I have no pictures of her in her fifties kitchen.

I don’t actually have her recipe, but I’ve made them how I think she would have made them and they certainly taste as they should.

They take me right back to the 80s! I remember her saying that she made bakewells with any spare pastry she had left from baking pies. Just like my mum, there was fruit pie in the house every tea time for pudding, with custard.

She was a firm believer in Trex vegetable shortening, but I’m pretty sure she used stork, or some kind of baking margarine for the rest of the fat. I’m a butter girl, so that was a slight change I made, spreadable butter.

This is my go-to recipe, which my mum taught me, when I don’t have access to a food processor. If I do I use the Nigella method: putting the flour and fat in the freezer. I’m lazy, I like the speed of the processor. If I have plenty of time however, rubbing in the flour by hand is rather relaxing. Plus you get a better feel for the consistency.

For the sponge topping, I just reduced a basic victoria sponge recipe down to one egg.

Searching through my mother in law’s baking pans I found some lovely vintage 6 hole tartlet tins, the cups were embossed with leaf and shell designs.

I asked her what they were used for, she told me her grandmother made Maid of Honour tarts in them! How coincidental that this should be what I was wanting to use them for!

This would be a good recipe to make with children, teaching them the basics of pastry and sponge. They would enjoy cutting out the pastry circles and assembling the tarts. Perfect for bake sales, lunch boxes or picnics too, very portable.

Effie’s Bakewells (Maid of Honour Tarts)

Oven 190 / gas 5

12 hole shallow tartlet tin

For the pastry tarts
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 30 g vegetable shortening such as Trex
  • 30 g butter or spreadable butter
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 12 teaspoons raspberry jam

Sift the flour into a roomy bowl and rub in the butter and shortening using your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle over the cold water and bring the dough together either with a wooden spoon or your hands. Add a tiny bit more water if it appears dry, if it cracks easily, it should feel slightly damp but not wet. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.

Once rested roll out on a floured surface to about 2-3 mm thick. Cut out circles to line your tartlet tin, press in gently then pop a teaspoon of jam into each one.

Now to make the sponge top. This is best made after this jam step or else the batter is standing around and the raising agents begin to work before they should.

Sponge lids
  • 50 g golden caster sugar
  • 50 g soft unsalted butter, or spreadable butter
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • 50 g self-raising flour

If you have an electric mixer, just put everything into a bowl and beat for a minute or so into a batter.

If you do it by hand, which I do for these, beat the sugar and the butter together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy with a wooden spoon.

Add the egg, beat well then sift over the flour and fold in with a metal spoon.

Dollop a scant tablespoon of the batter onto each jam tart then bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the sponge is golden.

When cool enough to handle, remove from the pans onto a wire cooling rack. They may be tempting to eat one straight out of the oven but remember the jam will be like molten lava!

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar if you wish.

 

Effie's Simple Maid of Honour Tarts
Crisp pastry filled with jam and topped with sponge
Print
Ingredients
  1. For the pastry tarts
  2. 125 g plain flour
  3. 30 g vegetable shortening such as Trex
  4. 30 g butter or spreadable butter
  5. 2 tbsp cold water
  6. 12 teaspoons raspberry jam
For the sponge lids
  1. 50 g golden caster sugar
  2. 50 g soft unsalted butter, or spreadable butter
  3. 1 medium free range egg
  4. 50 g self-raising flour, sifted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190º C / gas 5
Make the pastry
  1. Sift the flour into a roomy bowl and rub in the butter and shortening using your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle over the cold water and bring the dough together either with a wooden spoon or your hands. Add a tiny bit more water if it appears dry, if it cracks easily, it should feel slightly damp but not wet. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
  3. Once rested roll out on a floured surface to about 2-3 mm thick. Cut out circles to line your tartlet tin, press in gently then pop a teaspoon of jam into each one.
Make the sponge tops
  1. Simply put everything into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for a minute or so into a batter.
  2. Dollop a scant tablespoon of the batter onto each jam tart then bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the sponge is golden.
  3. When cool enough to handle, remove from the pans onto a wire cooling rack.
  4. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar if you wish.
Vagabond Baker http://vagabondbaker.com/

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

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16 Responses

  1. Happy cook says:

    These look lovely and I love the family photos too, but I am afraid that these are not bakewells, so Maid of Honour is the best name! Bakewells contain almonds!

    • I know, this is just what my nan called them. I did a bit of research and found that others did too! I bet there was all sorts of ambiguity back in the day, simplifying recipes due to rationing and availability. These a very moreish, I love making them xxx

  2. davegct says:

    Lovely story and a sweet old pic, especially Glam-Nan all in purple…

  3. Jorie says:

    Looks delish! And I love the photo of your grandparents. I’m such a sucker for nostalgic pics!

  4. lovely recipe and a sweet story to go with it. what a nice way to remember your nan!

  5. bakearama says:

    Love them! I wish I had recipes from my grandmas kitchen as well… and photos… many a happy childhood day spent baking there :-)

  6. Sophie33 says:

    What a lovely & tasty ode to her! these filled pastries look insanely tasty & fabuliscious too!

  7. thehungrymum says:

    These look lovely. And that pan is so precious.

  8. Great post! Love the old baking tins and nice jam jar!! xox

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