I am writing this post from our 2nd floor flat in London rented through airbnb. Sitting with my back to the open window, I hear the quintessential sounds of the city behind me. The weee-oooh-weee-oooh of an ambulance, the clippity-clop of passing mounted police, the late afternoon drunken rants pouring from the local pub, and the passing scent of cigarette smoke every few minutes. The sights and sounds are just what I imagined them to be, and I quite fancy it.
The hubs had to come to London for a work trip, so I decided to tag along with him and his crew. This is my first time in London and although we haven’t even been here 24 hours yet, I am already smitten. We started out by hitting up some local pubs last night, and I drank at least a few pints of cider which I attest to helping me sleep and reset my internal schedule to GMT, almost completely doing away with jet lag. Hooray for passing out drunk!
I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon as of late due to an overwhelmingly busy start to the summer and travel. I didn’t think much of it until a kind acquaintance and dedicated Baking The Goods follower called me out on it. She had been anxiously anticipating a special 4th of July post, but unfortunately I fell short. At first it made me feel bad. Then, once I thought about it, I realized how flattering it is to hear that people are actually excited about this little bloggy blog of mine.
Since I am currently on holiday, I was planning to hold off on this post until I return. But, I decided to squeeze this post in while traveling because it’s just been too long. Bear with me here. I am uploading this with an iPad and it’s proving to be more work than I had expected. Please forgive me for strange formatting and spelling errors. Also, I am 3/4 of the way through a 500ml bottle of cider so that might not be helping the situation.
This afternoon, we visited an adorable cafe in our neighborhood called J+A Cafe. We purchased a smattering of baked goods for takeaway and enjoyed them family-style in our flat. I ordered something called a Bakewell Tart and realized it is very similar to this Cherry Almond Shortbread Tart. Both use a shortbread base and layer of fruit or jam, the topping is a bit different, but this tart is definitely an American descendant of English heritage.
My Cherry Almond Shortbread Tart is a lovely summer treat. The flavor combination of sweet cherries and almond paste is a spot on, and the variation in textures is bloody brilliant.
- all purpose flour - 2 1/2 cups
- salt - 3/4 teaspoon
- butter - 3/4 cup
- granulated sugar - 3/4 cup
- almond extract - 1 teaspoon
- almond paste - 1 (7 ounce) tube
- sliced almonds - 1 cup
- fresh cherries, pitted and halved - 2 cups
- granulated sugar - 3 tablespoons
- lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
- lemon zest - zest of 1 lemon
- *You will need an 10" springform pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together the salt and flour in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium/high speed for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy, stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a few times.
- Add the almond extract and mix until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl a couple of times. Only mix until the ingredients have just come together and the dough is still crumbly so it is easier to distribute in the pan.
- Set aside 3/4 cups of the dough and spread the rest out in the bottom of the pan. Once the dough is evenly distributed in the pan, lightly press the dough into place so it covers the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until the shortbread dough puffs up and is a warm golden color all over. While the tart shell bakes, add the almonds to the 3/4 cup of remaining dough and use your fingers to smash the dough and almonds together into a crumble topping. Place the crumble top in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- While the shell bakes, pit and halve the cherries and place in a bowl. Toss with the lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar and set aside.
- Roll out the almond paste until it is a round nearly the size of the 10" springform pan. It is very pliable and easy to shape, but can get a little sticky.
- Once the tart shell has baked and cooled slightly, layer the rolled almond paste directly on top of the shell (this creates a barrier between the fruit and the shortbread base, keeping it from getting too soggy).
- Then top with the cherries, followed by the almond crumble topping.
- Bake for another 35(ish) minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The topping should be slightly browned and the cherry filling should start to soften and turn a deep red color.
- Allow the shortbread to cool for about 20-30 minutes before popping it out of the pan. Optionally dust with powdered sugar.
- Enjoy with a cup of afternoon tea and a jolly good chap.