If there is ever a cake that reminds me of my mum and my childhood, it has to be the Maid of Honour Tart.
Whenever my mother made any pastry dish and there was pastry left over, she would always transfer that pastry into these lovely little almondy tartlets with that touch of sweet jam that made them so special.
Maid-of-Honour tarts are also sometimes called Richmond Tarts; but to me the former name always wins. History has it that they were so named because English King Henry V111 found the maids of honour in his court eating these cakes that had been made by the maid who was to become his second wife, Anne Boleyn – but I doubt that if this is the truth or not we will ever know for sure, although it does seem that they certainly go back to this era in history.
The recipe that I use however is not a Tudor one but one that is more relevant in the 21st century, whatever its origin it is certainly a delicious little cake recipe and I would really recommend that you try it.
MAIDS OF HONOUR TARTLETS
Makes 12 tartlets
125g plain flour
2 teaspoon caster sugar
Water for mixing
Flour for dredging
75g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 teaspoon plain flour
A little freshly-grated nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
30ml sweet sherry
130g ground almonds
40g raspberry jam
Icing sugar for dredging
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Add the flour and the caster sugar to a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
3. Add just enough water so that the dough comes together as a ball.
4. Transfer to a floured surface and knead lightly then roll out to 3mm thick.
5. Using a pastry cutter cut into 6cm circles. Press these into the base of a lightly-buttered patty tin.
6. Roll remaining pastry into a rectangle and cut into thin strips of pastry, keep to one side.
7. Cream together the softened butter and the caster sugar, beat in the flour and nutmeg.
8. Beat in the eggs and sherry then add the ground almonds.
9. Stir to combine then place ¼ teaspoon of the jam in the base of the pastry in the tart tins.
10. Cover with 1 tablespoon of the almond mixture; arrange the pastry strips to form a cross on top of each tartlet.
11. Place in an oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are just golden brown.
12. Allow to cool before removing from the tart tin wells then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
113. Dredge with icing sugar before serving.
There you have your delicious tartlets fit for a king!