Commercially available vegan cherry Bakewells exist in the UK, but they're also gluten free, overpriced and come with disgustingly cardboard-like pastry. It's been years since I've had a good tart (no pun intended).
Therefore, I started again from scratch.
I'm not really used to my recipes not working within 1 or 2 attempts, but this one took 7 iterations to get right.
I started with my basic sponge recipe: adding ground almonds and replacing vanilla with almond essence. The result wasn't nearly almondy enough though, and consistancy far too sponge like (funny that?).
By attempt 4 I'd really cut down the amount of flour and increased the almond content. Whilst this gave great flavour; I'd essentially created marzipan - too wet with soggy pastry underneath.
Eventually I came up with a set of ratios that actually work, give good flavour and the right consistancy (moist, but not too moist). It's effectively a sponge, but with the maximum amount of ground almond you can get away with and almond essense to boost the flavour.
- 100g Ground Almonds
- 60g White Sugar
- 80g Self Raising Flour
- 1/2 tsp Baking Power
- 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
- 100ml Water
- 3 tsp Almond Essense
- Shortcrust Pastry
- Fondant Icing
- Half a Glace Cherry
- Raspberry Jam
If you've too much time on your hands and want to make pastry from scratch; I assume that adding some ground almonds to the dough will improve the flavour.
Roll out the pastry, prick, cover with greaseproof paper and rice/beads, then bake in a greased pie dish for 25 mins at 200oC (180oC fan).
Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove and place on a baking tray. Spread raspberry jam over the pastry (warming slightly if required); thicker than you would on toast but not insanely so.
Mix the dry filling ingredients together, then add the wet. It should come together in a nice semi-stiff batter that tastes almondy. Add a spoon more flour/water if required to get the consistancy right.
Add to the pastry case (ensuring that all jam is covered and the top is smooth), then bake for a further 25-30 mins at the same temperature as before.
It's done when the top starts to go golden and an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean. The pastry should be nicely golden, but not burnt.
Give the pastry a trim with a sharp knife, knock the surface of the cake slightly to give a smooth top, then allow to cool.
When cool, roll out fondant icing to about 5mm (using icing sugar to stop it sticking to the pin / board). Tescos own brand fondant was vegan when last checked/purchased (a few months ago). Again, you can make your own fondant if you've too much time on your hands.
Carefully place the fondant sheet over the top of the cooled tart, then use a sharp knife to cut it in place. You should cut as close to the edge of the pastry as you can (rough cutting a cm larger first will help). Push any rouge fondant up against the edge once complete with a blunt knife.
Place a single glace cherry half in the centre and push down. Keep extras on standby incase there's a fight over who gets the cherry.
You can make a non iced version by increasing the filling ingredients to 100g sugar, 150g almonds, 125g flour, 1/2 tsp baking power, 3tsp essense, 150ml water and 50ml water, then sprinkling with sliced almonds before baking (push them down slightly first). This is more traditional, but not as nice IMHO.
The whole thing will serve 8-10 people and it should be easy to adapt for individual sized tarts.