Sweet, nutty and fruity homemade Bakewell bars are easy to make and offer a taste of a classic Bakewell tart with minimal effort! Made with a buttery shortcrust base, raspberry jam and an almond sponge this handheld treat is perfect for picnics or afternoon tea!
A classic British treat not to be missed, these easy Bakewell bars are a simple take on the traditional Bakewell tart but in a convenient handheld slice! It’s an irresistible treat that is light, tender and flavorful.
Featuring three layers of a delicious crisp pastry crust, sweet raspberry jam and a soft almond sponge this homemade version is baked in a square or rectangular pan so it can be easily sliced into bars and served.
Whether you make these Bakewell slices to serve at a full afternoon tea complete with classic scones and clotted cream or just for an easy mid-day snack when you have run out of British flapjacks, it will become a new favorite!
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Bakewell Bars Recipe
- Quick and easy: Although 3 layers may sound intimidating, this easy recipe for Bakewell bars comes together in only a few steps and is ready within an hour.
- Flavorful: With almond flavor infusing the frangipane sponge, a buttery shortbread base and delicious raspberry jam, a Bakewell traybake bar is a treat for the tastebuds.
- Crowd-pleasing: Whether you decide to transport these slices to a picnic, on a beach outing or serve them with a cup of coffee or tea, everyone can’t help but grab a slice to enjoy!
- Versatile: Use whatever jam you like, garnish with icing or enjoy at a fancy tea or simply with coffee, these Bakewell shortbread bars are a treat no matter what or when!
With three distinct layers, this easy Bakewell slice recipe uses common ingredients you may already have! Flaked almonds make a fourth layer, but who’s counting? 🙂
- Pastry base: Similar to a pie crust, you will need all-purpose flour, cold butter and cold water for the buttery shortbread layer.
- Jam layer: For the layer of jam, raspberry jam is my choice but cherry jam is popular, too!
- Almond sponge cake: Butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, large eggs, milk and almond extract make up the frangipane which is similar to liquid marzipan but with a rising agent.
- Topping: Sliced almonds, if you can find sliced blanched almonds without the skin that is the best!
How to Make Easy Bakewell Bars
Make the shortbread dough: In a medium bowl, add flour and butter. Use your fingertips to combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add 2-3 tablespoons of cold water to form a soft dough. Roll out on a floured surface then transfer the buttery crust to a greased 9-inch baking pan.
Make sponge: In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar, all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk and almond extract and use an electric hand mixer to combine.
Assemble: Spread the pastry base with a generous amount of sweet jam and top with the sponge mixture. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the sponge layer.
Bake: Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes or until the sponge has shrunk from the sides of the pan, is golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle with a finger. Let the Bakewell bars cool in the pan before cutting. Enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
- Jam flavors: Use any jam flavor you would like! A classic cherry Bakewell bar is a popular choice.
- Vegan: For a vegan version, replace the butter with your favorite dairy-free block butter in the pastry crust. Either butter or coconut oil can be substituted in the frangipane and use your favorite dairy-free milk.
- Gluten free: The best choice would be to swap the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free flour blend of the same quantity. Almond flour could be used in the crust but you may want to use oat flour with it as well for structure.
- Bakewell cookie bars: If you desire more of a cookie bar, skip adding the jam layer on top of the pastry crust. Stir white chocolate chips and ground almonds into the sponge and then swirl the jam on top of the ‘cookie bar’ before baking.
- Icing: For an iced Bakewell tart tray bake make a simple icing with icing sugar, milk and almond extract or vanilla extract similar to the glaze I use on strawberry scones.
- Garnish: While sliced blanched almonds are the classic choice, you can also use glacé cherries or even drizzle some melted dark chocolate over the slices.
Baking Tips for the Perfect Bakewell Bar
- Prevent the base from shrinking: Chilling the pastry in the pan before baking can help the base not shrink when it bakes.
- Room temperature ingredients: You want the almond frangipane topping to be well mixed and fluffy. Plan accordingly to bring your butter to room temperature so you don’t get lumps of ingredients in a slice.
- Type of jam: Using a good quality jam with a high fruit to sugar ratio is best. If you have homemade jam even better!
- Spreading sponge over jam: I find it best to dot the mixture over the jam layer then use a spatula to spread it.
- Spread topping to edges: As best as you can try to prevent mixing the sponge with the jam and spread it to the edges to avoid any jam from potentially bubbling up.
What is the difference between a Bakewell pudding, tart and slice?
Bakewell pudding is said to date back to when a cook accidentally created it at the White Horse Inn in the town of Bakewell, England. This British classic is served warm and consists of a puff pastry base, jam and then a frangipane sponge-like cake. Bakewell tarts on the other hand have a shortcrust pastry base and are often sold commercially as mini-tarts with a fondant topping and glace cherry top. Homemade tarts are larger in size and often skip the fondant for flaked almonds.
A Bakewell slice, or Bakewell bar, is made in a pan and while it has similar ingredients and taste to the tarts, it is easier to make and can be sliced in squares. It is reminiscent of a US sheet cake or even a UK or Australian slice.
Do I need to blind bake my pastry crust?
There is no need to blind bake the crust to prevent sogginess, your Bakewell bars will still turn out flaky and crisp. Of course, if you prefer to blind bake it, that is your choice and perfectly fine!
How long will a Bakewell traybake last?
Once cooled, you can store leftover bars in an airtight container for up to 3 days. For longer storage, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I freeze leftover Bakewell slices?
Yes! Once cooled to room temperature, wrap Bakewell bars in cling film then foil and store in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Keep wrapped while thawing in the refrigerator overnight as this retains moisture and then enjoy.
More Sweet Recipes To Try
- Homemade Cherry Bread
- Brown Sugar Banana Bread
- Nutmeg Butter Cookies
- Coconut Bread
- Lemon Cream Cheese Bundt Cake
Adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible
Easy Bakewell Bars
For the Pastry
- 1⅓ cups All purpose flour
- ⅓ cup Butter – cold
- 2-3 tablespoons Water – cold
For the Sponge
- 7 tablespoons Butter – softened
- ½ cup Granulated sugar
- 1⅓ cups All purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2 large Eggs – room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Milk – room temperature
- ½ teaspoon Almond extract
- ½ cup Raspberry jam
- ½ cup Sliced almonds
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C) and grease a 9 inch baking pan.
- To make the pastry, in a medium bowl add the flour and rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add 2-3 tablespoons of cold water mixing to form a soft dough.
- Roll out the dough onto a light floured flat surface and transfer it into the prepared baking pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl add all the sponge ingredients, butter, sugar, all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk and almond extract and beat to combine all together.
- Spread the pastry base with a generous amount of raspberry jam and top with the sponge mixture. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the sponge layer and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the sponge has shrunk from the sides of the pan and springs back when pressed in the middle with a finger. Let it cool in the pan before cutting it. Enjoy!