baked goods · Recipe Reviews

GBBO – Mary’s Bakewell Tart

My goal for these recipe reviews was to have one out every other week. Well, that didn’t happen. Life got in the way, y’all.

But we finally had a minute, so here’s the second installment in my Great British Bake Off Technical challenge review series. I’m not going in any specific order with these; I’m basically picking the recipes I won’t have to buy too many extra ingredients for.

So, with that in mind, I’ve chosen Mary Berry’s Bakewell Tart technical challenge for this, my second video-blog-thing.

If you’ve watched the show, Bakewell tarts are a bit of a staple in the GBBO kitchen. I’ve seen bakers make a dozen variations on the tart and recreate its flavors in other baked elements. That being said, if you’re in America, like me, you probably haven’t made one before.

The flavors are simple, raspberry and almond. If you do a fair bit of baking, you’ll probably already have most of the ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, eggs, the usual suspects. The only ones you might not have are the fresh raspberries, almonds, almond extract and the pink food coloring.

Now, this recipe has four parts – the jam, the crust, the filling, and the icing. Each part has its own set of instructions, and they all seem pretty straightforward.

For simplicity’s sake, I measured out all the ingredients for each part before doing anything else.

The first part is the jam, just raspberries and sugar. The recipe calls for jam sugar, but I just used regular granulated sugar. It turned out a little watery, but it was still fine. After it boils, you’re supposed to let it cool completely and it’ll gel. Mine didn’t quite cool enough to gel all the way through – the top part was jam, the rest was syrup.

Probably not the recipe’s fault. That was all me, I think.

The shortcrust pastry was super easy to mix together and it rolled out like a dream. The recipe doesn’t specify if you’re supposed to grease your tart pan, but I get paranoid about that sort of thing, so I greased it lightly with a bit of shortening and lined the bottom with parchment paper.

I think greasing the sides was a mistake, though. The sides collapsed in the oven, which probably wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t greased the tin. Also, I forgot to chill the crust for 30 minutes in the fridge before baking….

Again, my bad. This wasn’t my best bake.

So, next comes the filling. Aside from my mixer spraying sugar all over the counter top, the filling came together beautifully.

Then, it was time to fill the tart shell. I laid down a thin layer of my jam/syrup. Easy peasy. On top of that went the filling, which was super thick, but it spread out easily. It almost overfilled the shell, but that’s probably because of the collapsed sides.

Into the oven it went and the filling promptly puffed over the top of the collapsed sides of my shell and started dripping butter on the floor of my oven.

Mishap number three.

The icing was supposed to be the next thing I made, but after tasting a bit of the filling before it went into the oven, I had a change of heart.

It’s so sweet, you guys. So sweet. Who on earth thought this needed icing?

You can add icing if you want, but I respect my pancreas too much to do that to myself. So I vetoed the icing and decided to top it with some sliced almonds and a light dusting of icing sugar instead.

Full disclosure, I was pre-warned, y’all.

A friend of mine made this same recipe not too long ago. She didn’t taste the filling before baking it, so she added the icing, like the recipe says to do. She found it so overpoweringly sweet, she was almost sick. I tasted her version of this tart minus the icing before trying the recipe for myself.


I realized when trying to remove this tart from the pan that: 1 – it wasn’t fully cooled, yet, and 2 – it probably wasn’t fully done, yet either. But it had already leaked copious amounts of butter on the floor of my oven, so I’m willing to live with underdone filling.

How’d it taste?

Uhhhhhhh……. It’s sweet. So. So. Sweet.

And I had the dreaded soggy bottom. Oops. I really didn’t keep it in the oven long enough.

The jam made a very thin, but discernible layer on the bottom and that was enough. It’s so ridiculously sweet, you guys. I’ve heard the judges complain about American desserts being sweet, but if this is a standard to judge by, they don’t have a leg to stand on. This British classic was tooth-rottingly sweet.

If you’re into super sweet desserts, you’ll probably love it, but this was not my jam. On the other hand, the recipe instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the ingredients are pretty standard. You won’t need to buy any weird specialty ingredients or cookware. If you’ve never made a tart before, this isn’t a bad place to start.

The ratings:

Prep time: 4 out of 5. Make sure your jam cools all the way.

Taste: 1 out of 5. Ugh. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Ease of construction: 4 out of 5. Lots of component parts, but not difficult to assemble.

Conclusion: Try it if you’ve never made one before. It’s an experience.

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