Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.


Antique shopping England

Belinda’s baked well Bakewell Tart

The recipe for these delectable pastry, jam, sponge-and-almond filled tarts comes from Belinda’s tea room in the beautiful castle town of Arundel in West Sussex, England.

Belinda’s Tea Room has been serving up the best of English tea goodies for more than 100 years in a building that originally served as a stable in the 16th Century in the incredibly beautiful historic town of Arundel, England. Introduced to us by The Handyman’s Aunt Ann and Uncle John, Belinda’s is a much-anticipated stop on all our visits to England. Our trip this summer to swim the English Channel on a relay team with friends called for a “double crossing.” We celebrated our swim from England to France with morning tea at Belinda’s, some antique shopping, a tour of Arundel Castle and a second crossing of Tarrant Street for a Belinda’s lunch. My new favourite, Bakewell tart, is served warm with custard and the proprietress graciously shared her secret recipe with me of this magical English invention.

A trip to Belinda’s is just as much about the atmospheric historic building as it is about its teas and cakes.

A bit of Bakewell Tart history

Despite my idea that a Bakewell is a dessert that is simply baked well, Bakewell is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England. The town is named after a guy called Badeca and the name means Badeca’s spring or stream (Old English wella). The Bakewell tart started life as a happy accident in pudding form in 1820 when the landlady of the White Horse Inn left instructions for her cook to make a jam tart with an egg and almond paste base. The cook, instead of stirring the eggs and almond paste mixture into the pastry, spread it on top of the jam. The tart version of this accident is made with a shortcrust pastry, an almond glaze topping and an almond sponge and jam filling.Too much information? Get down to the darn recipe already?


Grease and flour one 23cm tart pan or four 10cm tart pans

Shortcrust pastry

  • All-purpose flour     215 grams
  • Icing sugar                  30 grams
  • Unsalted butter         120 grams
  • Egg yolks (free run)  2
  • Cold water                   2 tbsp

Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and give them a quick pulse. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg and water and pulse a few times until the mixture starts to come together. Gather into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and place into the fridge until required (at least an hour to chill).

Pre-heat oven to 350F and roll out the pastry. Roll the pastry onto your rolling pin and carefully drape over the tin or tins, easing the pastry into position and trimming off any excess from around the edges. Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and cover with a sheet of parchment. Fill the centre or centres with baking beans, pie weights or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes.

Once the pastry has been removed from the oven spread 2 tbsp of high-quality raspberry jam evenly over the base.

Frangipane ingredients


  • Unsalted butter                                              75 grams
  • Caster sugar (super-fine or fruit sugar) 75 grams

(note…you can make this from regular granulated sugar by using your coffee grinder and grinding for 20 seconds or so…don’t grind too long or you will end up with icing sugar)

  • Ground almonds                                           75 grams
  • All-purpose flour                                          1 tbsp
  • Almond extract                                              1 tsp
  • Lemon zest finely grated from 1 lemon
  • Egg, free-range                                              1

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, this takes about 5 minutes in a kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle, or a little longer with a hand mixer. Fold in the remaining ingredients and place the mixture in a disposable piping bag. Cut the end off the bag and make a hole about 12mm wide and pipe the mixture evenly into the pastry case over the jam layer. Smooth out gently using a palette knife or spatula. Place the tart tin or tins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is golden. Test with a skewer in the centre, it should come out clean and the frangipane should be firm to the touch.

Cool before frosting.
Just a few simple ingredients and some good quality chocolate are needed for decorating.


  • Icing sugar                  200g
  • Almond extract          1tsp
  • Glace cherry or cherries
  • Good dark chocolate 100g

Mix the icing sugar and almond extract together and add a little water until you have a thick, smooth fondant. Pour the fondant into the tart tin or tins and level with the top. Pipe parallel lines of melted chocolate on the tart and then drag a toothpick across the lines to create a feathered effect. Place the cherry in the centre.

The original Belinda’s Bakewell
My Bakewell Tart which The Handyman has dubbed Tastesgreat Tart

Belinda’s recipe translated beautifully but the atmosphere of the tea room in Arundel is only a nice memory in my Naramata kitchen. Here a few photos of Arundel to give you an idea of what my favourite town in England is like.

View from Arundel Castle battlements of the market town built along the banks of the River Arun.
Arundel Castle was built by the Normans to protect the wooded plain to the north of the valley through the South Downs.
Arundel Castle is the seat of the Duke of Norfolk.
Just a glimpse of the castle’s gardens.
Antique shopping is great in Arundel.
Too big for my suitcase…
Naramata tea room in my kitchen…


Me and Big Blue Bobby McGee

I could have happily taken home all of these

It is in no way an exaggeration to say my heart beat faster and the hair on the back of my neck stood up as we entered the gates to the  Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair last summer in England. For a Canadian, antique collecting in a country where “stuff” is so much older than can be found at home,  just doesn’t get any better. In a spirit of show, don’t tell, here are some of the treasures encountered in its upwards of 1,700 stalls.

No, none of this collectable animal taxidermy came home with me although the little boar was tempting and cute (but sold). The dog in the case was pretty weird. It’s a rare breed but…

The birdcage in the reflection was really beautiful too

I wish had brought both of these mirrors home. One of my biggest left-behind regrets. I didn’t even ask their price.

IMG_4703Located in Southern England, 90-minutes away from Dover ferries, the annual fair attracts many exhibitors from Europe and the variety was pretty astounding. The prices were reasonable too.

IMG_4717It’s hard to get a sense of how big this chandelier was. You would need a big, fancy room to house it.

I like his hat.

IMG_4724This is right up my alley as I collect kitchenalia.

So many treasures. Such a small suitcase.

IMG_4744These came home with me: skates (who needs those in England anyway), trug, garden signs and my prized possession…the straw boater that came in its original Harrods’ box to add to my hat collection. I think I paid about 20 pounds for it. I love it that the owner’s name is on the inside hat brim…”B.W.G. Massey”. I hope he isn’t still looking for it.

IMG_4713This? did not come home with me.

I dream of returning and filling a shipping container. Big Blue Bobby McGee would look pretty darn awesome in my garden or maybe as a greeter in the tree fort. Maybe the English Channel swim is just a ruse to get back to Ardingly?

Our lovely English relatives organized the outing which included a stop at a pub, of course.


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