I love English country gardens and my own. Our English relatives John and Ann, indulging me in my passion, always plan a visit to extraordinary gardens when we come and spending time in their own lovely garden with its roses and pond is an enormous pleasure. I bring home inspiration, seeds, garden ornaments, pieces of flint and photos. Here are some of my favourites and how we’ve worked at Canadianizing them.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m leaping ahead to the end of a story more than three years in the making. If all goes well (there are a fair number of elements to the “all”), in six months time, me and five mates will be making our own graffiti on the walls of the White Horse in Dover, England.
Successful solo and relay team swimmers of the English Channel come to celebrate their achievement with a pint and pen at this landmark pub. Team Crazy Canucks hopes to swim from Dover to Point Gris Nez in France and spend the next day or maybe a few days celebrating. With more than 135 years of history since Captain Webb made the first crossing, the basic elements of the challenge remain precisely the same. “Whatever the era, a Channel swim is and always will be a battle of one small lone swimmer against the sometimes savage vastness of the open sea,” says former Channel Swimming Association President Cmdr. Gerald Forsberg.
Forsberg goes on to say, “It is quite possible to be ten miles from shore on a pitch-black, cold night, with a cresting sea, a three-knot tidal stream, and thirty metres of depth underneath…In such conditions, the Channel is no place for a physical weakling.” We laugh at cresting seas and three-knot tidal streams…Looks like our biggest challenge will finding some real estate to make our mark at the White Horse.
In the background is the names of a team from a city at the other end of our lake in Kelowna. Well done guys. Can’t wait to join you on the walls.