There was a time when I would get up very early in the morning with my sisters to bake a cake for Mother’s day…..why we didn’t do this the night before I have no idea.  My 10 year old self thought this was quite sensible……..invariably the cake didn’t live up to our expectations.  We would never have enough time to let the cake cool down before the ‘big reveal’ and we would proudly present the cake at my mother’s bedside with the icing pooling in the middle, where it had sunk (yes, I know now the oven was not hot enough), and dripping off the sides.  My mum gave the impression, of course, that it was lovely-I can’t remember ever eating it so perhaps it was disposed of quietly.

You get my point it doesn’t really matter how good it is, as the cliche goes, ‘It’s the thought that counts’. These pastry cakes are delicious and perfect for serving with a cup of tea (or a glass of bubbly) for a special person.




Basic short crust pastry:


230g plain flour

50g butter or block margarine at room temperature

50g lard or white vegetable fat e.g. Cookeen

3 or 4 tbsp. very cold water


  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl.
  2. Cut up the fat into small pieces. Rub the fat into the flour gently-just use the tips of your fingers and lift up the mixture so as to incorporate as much air as possible into the pastry. Don’t be heavy handed,  the aim is to make the pastry with as little handling as necessary. When it is ready it should look like damp breadcrumbs.
  3. Sprinkle 3 tbsp of cold water over the top and using a round bladed knife bring the mixture together pressing it against the sides of the bowl. If it is too crumbly looking add a little more water.
  4. Use your hand to gently knead the mixture together and then turn out of the bowl-it should be more or less ‘clean’ when you have finished.
  5. When you have a smooth, soft ball of pastry put it into a plastic bag and let it rest somewhere cool for about 20 minutes before you use it.


For the pastries:

Quantity of short crust pastry as above.

2 tbsp. of good quality raspberry jam

125g ground almonds

50g ground rice

2 large eggs

175g unrefined caster sugar

1-2 drops almond essence (optional)

15g flaked almonds

A little milk


  1. Base line a shallow tin (18cm x 25cm) and grease the sides well. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas 4. Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured surface and line the base and sides of the tin. Trim the edges.
  2. Warm the jam slightly if it is stiff and then spread it over the pastry base. Don’t be tempted to add more jam as it will boil over during the cooking and spoil the look of the pastries.
  3. Mix together the ground almonds, ground rice, eggs, sugar and the almond essence (if using). Add a little milk if it is too stiff to pour.
  4. Pour carefully over the jam and make sure that the almond mixture covers the jam completely. You can use a knife to spread the almond mixture until it makes contact with the pastry and seals it in.  Level the top if necessary. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and firm to touch. Take care not to burn the almonds. Allow to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a board.
  6. Cut into small squares or bars.




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