A few years ago I ran a cookery class to coincide with Suffolk Day, focusing on historic recipes from around the county. We made God’s kitchels, fourses cake (think elevenses but at teatime), Suffolk buns and these Ipswich almond tarts.

A lot of the traditional recipes hereabouts seem to revolve around a yeasted dough with a few currants lobbed in – thrifty recipes for a country housewife, perhaps something she could split off from the regular bread dough and simply enrich with dried fruit. The Ipswich almond tarts are a rather richer affair.

The original recipe is for an Ipswich almond pudding and comes in Hannah Glasse’s book of 1747, but may date back even earlier. The filling is essentially a version of frangipane, which is said to date to the 1500s.

Hannah instructs us to lay a sheet of puff pastry in a dish and top it with an enormous quantity of ground almonds, breadcrumbs, eggs, cream and sugar before baking. I have adapted her recipe to modern tastes and modern ovens and although I’ve tried it with puff, I prefer it with this thin, enriched shortcrust. I’ve also made daintier tartlets rather than one big tray bake, but feel free to adapt to your personal tastes.

Great British Life: Ipswich Almond Tarts. Ipswich Almond Tarts. (Image: Linda Duffin)

Ipswich almond tarts recipe

(makes 12)


115g cold butter

225g plain flour

2 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

½ eggshell of cold water


75g ground almonds

50g caster sugar

Small pinch of salt

Zest of 1 lemon or ½ orange

50ml double cream

1 small egg

½ tsp almond extract

½ tbsp orange flower water or rose water

15g melted butter

Plus flaked almonds, to garnish

For the pastry, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and stir through the sugar and salt. Add the egg and water and mix with a table knife until it comes together. Knead very briefly to get rid of any cracks, press into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Set the oven to 200C/180fan/Gas Mark 6.

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the filling. In a second bowl, whisk the egg with the cream, almond essence and flower water. Add this to the dry ingredients, mix, add the melted butter and mix again. Cover and chill until needed. It will thicken somewhat in the fridge.

Butter and flour a 12 hole patty tin. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry thinly and cut out discs to fill each hole. Line with cling film or foil, fill with baking beans or rice and chill again for 15-20 minutes. Bake for seven minutes. Carefully remove the baking beans and cling film and cook for a further 4-5 minutes until the pastry is pale gold and completely dry. Remove from the oven.

Reduce the heat to 180C/160 fan/Gas Mark 4. Spoon the filling into the tart cases, stopping short of the top. Scatter with flaked almonds, if using. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is golden and risen.

Remove from the oven, cool briefly in the tin and then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Great British Life: Freshly out of the oven. Freshly out of the oven. (Image: Linda Duffin)

About Linda

Linda Duffin is a food writer who operates a cookery school, Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes, from her beautiful Tudor home in mid-Suffolk. Students are invited, in season, to plunder the kitchen garden and orchard in her two-and-a-half-acre garden for ingredients and can also book a stay as part of a course. Linda works closely with local producers, some of whom join her in teaching classes in their specialist areas. The Mrs Portly name, Linda says, started as a joke but she has grown into it.