My week is finally winding down. With just little bits of business left to tie up, I’ve managed to squeeze in some time to write about these lovely bars. These bars, as you might have guessed, is based on the English Bakewell Tarts, which is something I have yet to try. (If anybody knows a good recipe for the tarts, please do link away!) I actually made this quite some time ago but had planned to share it only after trying the tarts. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to make them, but it would be such a shame to keep these bars to myself for so long.
These bars are made up of layers upon layers of yum: a buttery crust at the bottom, some sweet jam in the middle, a lovely frangipane on top of that, and finally a nice sprinkling of more almonds to enhance the lovely almond scent and flavour. This is a fantastic almond treat, sweetened mostly by a layer of jam. My love for almonds is actually a fairly recent thing. I did not use to like them, but I have always loved the scent of them. Thankfully tastes change, because I have much almond-consumption to catch up to.
Despite the mega-butter dose, it doesn’t feel at all oily. It’s simply the indulgent mark of a typical Nigella recipe. I love how the layer of jam adds another dimension of flavour to these bars, complementing the fragrant and delicious frangipane layer. I just love cakes with almond meal in them!
Make sure the jam is one heaping cup, or maybe even 1-1/2 cups, because it really makes a lot of difference. I used orange marmalade jam, but it didn’t shine all the way through because I didn’t have enough and was too lazy to run out to the store. For a more obvious colour contrast when you cut into bars, use jams with a darker colour. Next time I’m making this with raspberry, or my personal favourite, strawberry jam. Also, I would go against adding more than 2/3 cup almonds on top. Since they have their own distinct flavour, they could overpower the rest of the layers.
Almost too lovely to eat! Almost.
Makes enough for one 8- x 12-inch pan, about 16 slices
For the base
- 1 1/2 cups + 1 1 tablespoon, 220 g all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup 225 g / 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and chopped
For the Frangipane filling
- 2/3 cup 150 g unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup 170 g superfine sugar
- 1 1/2 cups 300 g almond meal
- 2/3 cup 55 g sliced almonds
- 1 heaping cup jam of your liking
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a 8- x 12-inch metal baking pan and line with foil, leaving an overhang in two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.
- 2. Lightly toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan. Set aside.*
Make the base
- 3. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt into a food processor and blitz to combine and remove any lumps. Add the butter and process again to get a crumbly mixture that’s beginning to come together.
- 4. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and press into the base of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove it from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the frangipane
- 5. Melt the butter and set aside to cool a little. Put the eggs, sugar and almond meal into the bowl of the food processor or mixer. Process until smooth.
- 6. With the processor or mixer running, pour the slightly cooled melted butter into the bowl with other ingredients and process until smooth.
- 7. Spread the jam evenly over the cooled base. Pour the frangipane over the jam layer and top with the toasted almonds.**
- 8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan, over a wire rack. Cut into slices to serve. Best eaten warm.
** Don't go overboard with the almonds as they might overpower the pastry. Adapted from Feast: Food to Celebrate Life by Nigella Lawson