Baking with my Grandmothers-in-law

Because we can’t spend the holidays with Honey’s family, I wanted to make her something that would connect her to her wider family history in our home. Something special. I knew immediately that it would be a Bakewell tart, which she associates with her Gramma. For some reason, although I’ve purchased the single serving type for her, I never thought to make one until this year. She said she hadn’t had a homemade one since Granma’s decades ago. When she questioned the cherries I added to the shopping list, I told her it would be a surprise but she wanted to know so I let the secret out. While the element of surprise was gone, it meant that I could screen the process with her. I never had the chance to meet Gramma (Honey’s paternal grandmom) so didn’t know what her Bakewell tarts looked like, and Honey told me that there was a strip of crust crossed on the top.

I thought solstice would be a nice way to ease the pie into the holidays. I wanted to focus on the actual pie filling so used ready to roll crust as a shortcut. The recipe said to parbake the crust but I didn’t know whether that applied to premade pastry as well (it does), so I messaged my mother in law. During that exchange, she told me a funny story about Granny’s (Honey’s maternal grandmother) pies from her childhood. This is our first Christmas without Granny so it was really nice to have her brought into my baking as well.

It felt like such a gift to ME to stand there in the kitchen baking and honouring both of Honey’s grandmothers in the process. A new story about the Granny I knew and loved, and a way to connect -through the physical pie-making itself- to the Gramma I hadn’t met. When Honey tasted it, she said it tasted like Gramma’s.

I used Mary Berry’s Easy Bakewell tart. I’ve copied the ingredients in here, with my comments:
For the shortcrust pastry
175g/6oz plain flour
75g/2½oz chilled butter
2-3 tbsp cold water

For the filling
1 tbsp raspberry jam (needed 3 Tbs for it to cover the bottom ‘generously’ as noted)
125g/4½oz butter
125g/4½oz caster sugar
125g/4½oz ground almonds
1 free-range egg, beaten (used 1 egg plus about another egg’s worth of egg whites to get it moist enough for consistency but this then affected the baking)
½ tsp almond extract
50g/1¾oz flaked almonds (used chopped almonds)

It calls for 35 minutes at 180C in a fan assisted oven. Our oven seems to run quite hot so I had to coax it to finish cooking before burning, even though I had it around 175C. In the future, I’ll check it after 25 minutes like I did for this tart, but also cover it in foil from the beginning. I also added cherries to the top. Next time, I might sink them into the top before adding the chopped almonds and baking.

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