By Keighley’s Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking...

WHO remembers Congress tarts?

If you do and with affection, you must also be a Bakewell tart lover – the two share the same concept, with an ongoing debate about whether or not they should have coconut in them!

Sadly, Congress tarts are one of those teatime treats that have taken a backseat in recent years, and been forgotten.

They should be made with a rich buttery pastry base and a layer of raspberry jam, with a thick, moist, almond frangipane filling and flaked almonds scattered on top.

The combination of almond and jam is to die for and surely is one of the most British of tastes out there?

Congress tarts are a real throwback to childhood teas when visiting the grandparents.

The name Congress is thought to date back to the 17th century when at the end of the Thirty Year War, a congress was held in Osnabruck, Germany, and those who attended were presented with an almond macaroon tart that was marked with a pastry cross on top.

Some bakers did used to put a pastry cross on top of the Congress tart. Maybe this represents a Cornish flag or has a religious reason or was simply a way to use up the offcuts, but I do like mine heaped-up with flaked almonds and a smidgen more jam.

Congress tarts were popular around town up until the late 80s when sadly most of our beloved family-run bakers shops, where we used to buy them for a treat for the family, closed down.

If you're lucky enough to have tried them, it's a recipe that the young generation needs to know about.

Congress tarts are easy to make and generally involve ingredients you'll have in your baking cupboard at home. Remember, if you are not a good pastry maker, simply buy a ready-made pack from the supermarket – I'll let you off this time!

Almond and raspberry jam will have many people drooling, and take you back to those past experiences of visiting beloved older relatives who always put on the best spreads to accompany a cup of tea!



Makes 12


500g/1lb homemade or shop-bought shortcrust pastry

120g/4oz butter, softened

120g/4oz caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

60g/2.5oz plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

12 teaspoons raspberry jam

60g/2.5oz ground almonds

Almond essence, 1 teaspoon – optional

Flaked or blanched almonds to scatter on top


1. Lightly grease 12 bun tins with a little butter and preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4.

2. Roll out the pastry, using a little flour, until it’s nice and thin, then cut out 12 discs using an 8cm/3’’ round serrated scone cutter.

3. Neatly line the tins with pastry discs, and then add a teaspoon of raspberry jam and place to one side to rest while you make the filling.

4. Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and cream together until light, fluffy and pale in colour. Then beat in the eggs a little at a time with the almond essence.

5. Sieve the flour, baking powder and ground almonds over the bowl and fold in, spoon a heaped tablespoon of batter into the tart cases ensuring you cover the jam.

6. Sprinkle on top a few flaked almonds or maybe add a pastry cross, then bake for around 20 minutes till firm to touch and golden brown.