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Recipes: Bake your own Fitzbillies favourites

Planning a picnic? You’ll need a sweet treat. Both favourites in Fitzbillies’ Cambridge cafes, here’s how to make your own fruit tarts and sultana scones

Fresh Fruit Tarts

Makes 12 individual small tarts

These tarts are the precious jewels of the bakery world. The bright, translucent colours of the fruit look so beautiful and they taste so fresh. People who say they don’t like cake like these tarts. So simple: pastry, custard, fruit. So perfect: these tarts always make the cut as part of our afternoon teas.


1 batch of sweet pastry (see recipe below)

Butter or cooking oil, for greasing

For the crème pâtissière:

300ml full-fat milk

1 tsp vanilla bean paste 3 medium egg yolks 50g caster sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp plain flour

For the topping:

Fresh strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, sliced peaches, cherries, mint leaves etc

Apricot jam, for glazing (optional)


Put the milk in a thick-bottomed saucepan, add the vanilla bean paste and bring to the boil. Leave to cool a little.

Put the egg yolks in a bowl (save the whites for making meringues) and whisk in the caster sugar. Add the cornflour and plain flour and mix to combine, then whisk in the warm milk.

Clean the pan, then strain the crème pâtissière mixture back into it. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously until thickened.

Pour into a bowl and immediately cover the top with a piece of cling film – the cling film needs to be touching the surface of the crème pâtissière to stop a skin forming. Let it cool completely, then refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan). Grease and flour 12 small tart tins. You could also use the holes of a muffin or cupcake tray – these will make smaller, deeper tarts, so less room for decoration.

Now make your tarts cases. Remove the pastry from the fridge. If it’s been in there a long time, i.e. overnight, get it out half an hour before so that it comes to room temperature. Lightly flour a surface and roll out the pastry. Ensure it doesn’t stick by moving it around gently as you work and keeping the surface well floured.

Using a cutter slightly larger than your tart tins, cut out 12 suitably sized circles and gently press them into the bases and sides of the tins. Trim the top edges all the way around with a sharp knife and prick the bases with a fork. Blind bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden – you don’t want to overbake the edges, but nor do you want a soggy bottom. Leave to cool completely.

Fill the bottoms of the tart cases with the crème pâtissière. We usually make a lot, so we use a piping bag, but spreading with the back of a spoon works fine too.

Go mad topping them with fresh berries, sliced fruit and mint leaves.

If you are serving the tarts immediately, they will be fine just as they are. If you want to serve them the next day or add a bit of gloss, you can glaze the tarts with some warmed apricot jam (add a teaspoon of boiling water if it seems overly thick).

Sweet Pastry

Makes enough for a single 28cm tart or 12 individual small tarts

This pastry is a very traditional sweet pastry recipe. It’s been used at Fitzbillies for at least

50 years, probably longer. It’s pretty much what every British high-street baker would have used, as it’s easy to work with and flexible. We make a giant batch and store it until we need it.


85g unsalted butter

85g baking margarine

60g caster sugar

1 medium egg, beaten

255g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 1⁄4 tsp salt


Mix together the butter, margarine and caster sugar in a bowl, but do not cream. Mix in the egg.

Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. If it doesn’t come together after a minute, add a little water (a teaspoon at a time) until it does come together.

Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for an hour before use.

Fruit Scones

Makes 10 large or 14 small scones

Fitzbillies Fruit Scones (46760915)
Fitzbillies Fruit Scones (46760915)

Whenever anyone asks Alison what her favourite cake is, she replies, ‘Well, it’s not really a cake,but scone, jam and cream.’ After the Chelsea bun, it’s the sweet item we sell most of in the café. Cream tea is surely one of English cookery’s greatest gifts to the world.


460g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

30g baking powder

50g caster sugar

80g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2 medium eggs

200ml milk, full-fat or semi-skimmed

120g sultanas


Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan) and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Mix together the flour, baking powder and caster sugar in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips.

Lightly beat together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Reserve a tablespoon of the milk and egg mix to glaze the top of the scones.

Add the liquid to the dry mix and bring together with your hands. Stir in the sultanas last so that they don’t get broken up.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and give it the very lightest of kneads – just two folds should do – to make sure it comes together evenly. Roll out to 3cm thick and cut out to the size you want. We use a 7cm cutter for large scones and a 5cm cutter for smaller scones.

Place the scones spaced well apart on the lined baking sheet and brush with the reserved beaten milk and egg. Bake the large scones

for 15–20 minutes and the smaller scones for 12–15 minutes until they are lightly golden.

Serve either warm or cold, with jam and clotted cream, obviously.

Recipes taken from Fitzbillies: Stories and recipes from a 100-year-old Cambridge bakery by Tim Hayward & Alison Wright, photography by Sam A. Harris, is published in hardback by Quadrille, cover price £20. Order at fitzbillies.com for the special price of £15.

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