These Bakewell shortbread slices have the firm bite of the buttery shortbread base, a sweet raspberry jam (or cherry jam) centre and a top layer of decadent frangipane (I know, what even is that?).
What is Bakewell?
Bakewell is a place in England, where the Bakewell tart originates from, apparently invented by accident! It traditionally has a shortcrust pastry base, beneath a layer of jam followed by frangipane and topped by flaked almonds or icing.
I know what you’re thinking, what is frangipane? Well, put simply, it’s an almond pastry cream or paste. And you what, it’s damn tasty.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Bakewell and had a tart straight from a quaint little bakery there. You just can’t beat their classic goodness, they’re complete masters!
✏️ Making a tasty and easy recipe
My recipe testing for the Bakewell shortbread slice was inspired by my classic lemon bars and raspberry bars. I thought, “what if I made this a Bakewell?”, which is a common question I ask myself. Yes, I’m totally obsessed with Bakewell!
I can admit that at first, I tried to artfully drizzle the icing in cute diagonal lines. But I totally fudged it up. Instead, I thought, why not go whole hog? Give it a good hearty layer. I’m so glad I did. For me, it adds another element of sweetness, and who doesn’t love sugar?
👍 Best ways to enjoy
This is another of my recipes where it’s super tasty fresh from the oven. When I make these Bakewell shortbread slices with flaked almonds on top rather than icing, I love to whack on a dollop of crème fraiche or pour over a healthy (but not actually healthy) splash of cream - such sweet mouth joy!
It's even better once it’s cooled down though, with a firmer bite, and you can add an icing top for extra sweetness. Pictured here, I’ve let the Bakewell shortbread slices cool and gone for fondant icing as a top layer, following the traditional Bakewell tart style.
Bakewell shortbread slices are perfect to take for a bake sale or just to feed a bunch of people you love. They’re easy and look pretty impressive (if I do say so myself!).
🥘 Ingredients notes
- I prefer to start with room temperature butter for the shortbread dough and frangipane. This way it’s easier to mix together with the other ingredients. The butter should be soft enough to indent when you press it, but not be almost liquid.
- I recommend using vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence, as it has a better stronger flavour. It’s a purer vanilla taste as it’s less processed than vanilla essence.
- Always sieve your flour, baking powder and icing sugar. I used to be a bit lazy and skip this part, but it really makes such a difference to get you a lump-free mixture.
- When measuring your ingredients, I always recommend using weights rather than cups for greater accuracy. This is especially important for the amount of flour.
🔪 Equipment notes
- I like to use digital scales for weighing my ingredients as it's easier and more accurate than other scales (or using no scales!). I'm a fan of these KitchenAid or Salter ones!
- Use measuring spoons for your teaspoon and tablespoon amounts where possible. Make sure the scoops filled with your ingredients are levelled before adding them to your mix!
- For these Bakewell shortbread slices (and almost all of my traybakes), I like to use a 9inch / 23cm square baking pan. Even if yours is a non-stick one, I'd recommend greasing and lining your tin with parchment paper / greaseproof paper.
Store your Bakewell shortbread bars in an airtight container at room temperature. They should stay fresh for up to 4 days.
If it's hot where you live, you might prefer to store these bars in the fridge instead. They should last up to 5 days in the fridge.
If keeping in the fridge, you may want to bring your shortbread slices up to room temperature before eating. They might be too hard for your teeth otherwise!
💭 Top tips
- To help the shortbread base bake evenly, once the shortbread has been pressed into the baking tin, use a fork to poke holes spaced across the surface before baking.
- Leave roughly an inch gap from the edges when spreading your jam across the shortbread base. This will prevent your jam from leaking out the sides when you top it with the thick frangipane.
- The frangipane in these Bakewell bars bakes a little like a sponge cake, so you can use the classic skewer-coming-out-clean-test to see when it’s done.
♻️ Alternatives and substitutions
Pictured here, I’ve let the Bakewell shortbread cool and gone for a thin fondant icing as a top layer, following the traditional Bakewell tart style. However, I find this bake is great with a range of different toppings too.
For a less sweet finish, you can scatter flaked almonds over the top of the frangipane layer of your Bakewell bars before putting them in the oven to bake. This will give it a nuttier aroma as the almonds toast perfectly. Or you can go for the icing layer topped with flaked almonds – because why choose?
You can even go a bit wild and pour over melted white chocolate (150g of white chocolate should give a nice thin layer) once the Bakewell has cooled completely. Put this in the fridge to set the white chocolate and have a nice firm white chocolate layer to bite through for added texture.
Another change you can make is to switch up the jam used. I tend to favour raspberry jam, but blackberry jam or cherry jam would also go down a treat. You can also add glace cherries to the top of your icing if you’re really feeling the cherry vibes.
For a gluten-free version, you can swap the regular plain/all-purpose flour for a gluten-free plain/all-purpose flour blend of the same quantity.
To be safe, always check your other ingredients for allergen warnings on the nutritional label, as they may have cross-contamination warnings.
🧁 Other goodies
So, I definitely recommend that you whip up a batch of these easy Bakewell shortbread slices! But as an avid home baker, I’m sure you’re asking yourself “what next?”.
I may have mentioned my intense love for all things Bakewell-flavoured. If you too suffer from this addiction, seek help (by getting more of the good stuff) - check out my recipe for best cherry Bakewell blondies, Bakewell white chocolate blondies or Bakewell cookie bars!
Other Related Recipes:
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Bakewell Shortbread Slices
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- 180 g (¾ cups) unsalted butter
- 80 g (⅓ cups) caster sugar (golden or white)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 180 g (1½ cups) plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ jar raspberry or cherry jam (roughly 175g)
- 1 handful flaked almonds (sprinkle on before final bake)
- 200 g (1⅔ cups) icing sugar (plus 1tbsp water, to top after cooling)
- Pre-heat oven: 180°C / 160°C (fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
- Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until fully combined.
- Sift in the flour and stir together until a dough forms.
- Line the 9inch square baking tin with greaseproof paper and press the shortbread dough into the base to create an even layer, either using your hands of the back of a spoon.
- Use a fork to prod a few rows of shallow holes in the base to help cook evenly, and bake in the oven for 25mins until lightly golden.
- While the base bakes, make the frangipane by first creaming together the butter and sugar.
- Beat in the eggs and almond extract until fully combined.
- Sift in the flour and fold in with the ground almonds to the mix.
- Once the shortbread base has baked, spread a thick layer of jam over the half-baked base, leaving an inch gap from the edges.
- Carefully add the frangipane layer on top of the jam layer and, if using, sprinkle with flaked almonds.
- Bake for a further 30mins, until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
- While the Bakewell cools in the tin, if choosing to top with fondant icing, mix together the icing sugar with a little warm water until smooth. Gradually add water to the icing sugar a teaspoon at a time until you have a thick but spreadable consistency.
- Pour the icing over the cooled Bakewell and allow to set before slicing.
- I like the taste of golden caster sugar in this recipe, but you can easily swap this for white caster sugar if you don't have any golden.
- I've use the icing topping rather than flaked almonds (as shown in the pictures), but either works a treat (or both!!).
Nutritional information is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator, actual values may vary.