We’ve had such wonderful weather over the past couple of months that I’ve spent as much of my time as possible outside, and my cooking and baking has been limited mainly to necessity and to friends’ summer parties. Writing and blogging have, I must admit, been rather low on my list of priorites. For me, it’s been about making hay as the sun shines, as the saying goes.
But now Autumn (and all its fruits) is creeping in, I thought I’d better quickly blog a recipe for any late summer gooseberries you might have. Our single bush did us proud this year – its first full fruiting summer – by producing about 4kgs or so of plump berries. Some I’ve frozen, some I’ve turned into fools, crumbles, and the like, but my favourite use for them is in a tart.
This recipe (a blend of Diana Henry and Edd Kimber, with some further adaptation) will give you an elegant and delicious tart. With sugar-poached gooseberries coddled in a rich custard filling, all encased within a crisp sweet shortcrust pastry shell, it makes a joyous finish to any meal. Quite frankly, it’s perfect on its own, but if you feel the need, then pour over some cool cream.
For the pastry:
375g plain flour
25g ground almonds
50g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
seeds from half a vanilla pod
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water
Combine the flour, almonds, icing sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the vanilla pod seeds and pulse again. Add the butter, and pulse repeatedly until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Mix the yolk and water and add it to the flour mixture, and pulse again until it all just starts to come together. Tip the dough onto the work surface, and knead briefly, lightly, and quickly until it becomes uniform. Flatten slightly into a rough disc shape and chill until needed (at least 30 mins).
When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Let the pastry come to room temperature, and then roll it out to fit a 20-23cm tart tin. Trim off any excess, and prick the base with a fork.
Once the oven is hot, line the pastry case with baking paper and beans, and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Set aside while you make the filling.
For the filling:
Heat 100g caster sugar with 150ml water (or replace the sugar with elderflower cordial, and reduce the quantity of water accordingly) in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer 350g topped and tailed gooseberries in the liquid for 3 minutes until they are just softening (they will soften further during baking). Scoop the berries out with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
Beat together 2 egg yolks with 50g caster sugar for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned pale and the volume has more or less tripled. Stir in 75ml double cream and the finely grated zest of half a lemon. Mix well.
Spoon the gooseberries into the tart case, and pour over the filling. Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove, and leave to cool before serving. To finish, dust with icing sugar.
Slice, eat, enjoy!