Earlier this decade, I had the pleasure of living in London for around 9 months, working as a lawyer at a City firm based near the Petticoat Lane Markets in East London. When I was hired, it was initially for the firm's new Oxford office, but for various reasons I worked in the London office for the entire duration of my employment. This turned out to be a bonus for me, because I had wanted to live and work in London, but being a technology lawyer looking to work in the UK just as the tech bubble burst, I had thought it would be an unattainable dream.
I lived in West London near Lancaster Gate tube station, in a flat which was advertised as being in Bayswater but which in reality was closer to the slightly less fashionable Paddington. My flat was located in what had once been a house which had been divided into flats, and was situated in a lovely square of white buildings with a small square garden in the centre.
It was a wonderful life until I, too, became a late casualty of the tech bubble bursting. However, I do not regret a second of it, and I think that my life would be much poorer if I had not had the opportunity to do it or the courage to go ahead with it, despite strong opposition from my family and the long period of feeling displaced on my return.
One of the pleasurable things about life in London was experiencing the food. Back then, I was not half as interested in food and cooking as I am now, so to some extent, I did not take full advantage of the opportunities to visit the various markets and try all of the wonderful produce there. However, I had friends who lived near Spitalfields Markets, and I adored the German cake stall (do try the sour cherry cake - delicious!) and the exotic dried fruit and spice stall there. I also was amazed every time I visited Notting Hill markets to see the seafood displayed in ice buckets out in the open - it would never happen here because our weather is far too warm and the fish would spoil.
I also developed a taste for certain supermarket treats - Sainsburys banoffee pie (which was no longer available when I visited 4 years later), M&S Percy Pigs (which kind friends have sent me a supply of from time to time), McVities jaffa cakes (which you can now buy here), and Mr Kiplings cherry bakewells ("exceedingly good" and which can also now be purchased here). The latter were a favourite at the firm where I worked, as they made an appearance at almost every birthday afternoon tea during my stay.
Accordingly, it was with a fond touch of nostalgia that I made this month's Daring Bakers challenge.
The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.
The bakewell tart consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, which is topped with jam and an almond frangipane. It can be decorated with almonds or, as with Mr Kiplings cherry bakewells, it can be iced and topped with a glace cherry. We were also invited to make our own jam for the tart filling.
I loved the pastry recipe used to make the tartshell, because it did not shrink or lose its shape at all during baking. For that reason, I would definitely use it again.
Here is my tartshell toped with my homemade mixed berry jam, which I strained to remove the seeds and blueberry skins:
then the tart with the almond frangipane poured on top:
and finally, here is the tart after it has finished baking, and has been sprinkled with flaked alonds:
Don't you just love the golden brown crust, concealing the jam as shown at the top of this post?
Because of my nostalgic fondness for Mr Kiplings cherry bakewells, I used the leftover tart dough and reserved some of the frangipane to make 10 little bakewell tarts filled with store-bought cherry jam, iced with water icing and topped with half a glace cherry:
To give you an insiders glance at these mini tarts, here they are pre-decorating:
and here is a rather blurry peak inside:
and here is a rather blurry peak inside:
This was a fun challenge, and I thank Jasmine and Annemarie for being our hosts this month. (You can incidentally find the recipe for the bakewell tart on their websites.) To check out all the other amazing variations on the bakewell tart by the other Daring Bakers, check out the Daring Kitchen blogroll.