Tag Archives: tart

Strawberry Heaven in a tart

Who doesn’t associate strawberries with Summer? I know you can now get strawberries all year round, but honestly, there is NOTHING better than in season, local strawberries.  And as my love of pastry is always lurking somewhere beneath the surface, strawberries+ pastry= strawberry heaven.

As much as I always love my favourite recipes and make them often, it’s nice to try new things.  I picked up “The Boy Who Bakes”- Edd Kimber while in the UK on a trip.  Although I follow him on #Instagram, I had never seen him on TV on the GBBO, or tried one of his recipes.  Until now.

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The Blood Orange- a fruit of great beauty

It’s orange time of year.  Just when the body is at it’s lowest, mother nature responds with the season of vitamin C rich fruit.  Granted they are not native to our shores, but at least the majority we import are European.  The Seville oranges make such beautiful marmalade, but the blood oranges make beautiful ANYTHING.

blood orange

Blood Orange Beauty


The distinctive red flesh colour is due to the presence of anthocyanins (a family of antioxidant pigments not normally associated with citrus fruits.  The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.

You can use them simply as a snack, or add the juice to a fancy cocktail.  They are really good as an ice cream or sorbet ingredient too.  And can be used where an orange is called for in any baking or cooking.  But I feel unless you can show off their beautiful colour, just use ordinary oranges and save the blood oranges for the extraordinary occasion.

I’ve made a couple of things to showcase the most fabulous of citrus fruits. I feel slightly bad as I regularly turn to the humble lemon for a last minute dinner or dessert.  But there’s no denying it, the blood orange has a certain je ne sais quoi.

First I made Richard Bertinet’s Blood Orange Tart from his deliciousy lickable book “Patisserie Maison“. I wasn’t entirely happy with the colour.  But the flavour of the curd was like velvet.  A real treat worthy of the effort involved with any tart.

Blood Orange Tart

And as I had leftover oranges (*smiles*) I decided to be even more adventurous and try some macaron. I filled them with both raspberry curd and blood orange buttercream.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange Buttercream and Raspberry Curd

And they were DIVINE- and that’s saying something as I’m not the biggest fan.

Blood Orange Macaron


Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart Recipe

I ‘m a fan of frangipane. And never would have been drawn to it when I was younger.  But for me it’s almost a perfect combination of spongelike texture with a pastry base. A match made in heaven once there isn’t an over-powering taste of almond essence. Ugh. Double ugh in fact.

The earliest mention is in a French Cookbook in 1674! Some believe that the name bears homage to St. Francis of Assisi. That a noblewoman named Jacopa da Settesoli brought some to him on his death bed in 1226.

Apricot & Basil Frangipane Tart

Apricot & Basil Frangipane Tart Prep

I like to make this tart a little hap hazard, no need for perfect pastry crust or to get the ruler out to measure the distance between the apricots. So I suppose it’s a pie really. The basil gives a lovely perfume to the apricot filing.  And somehow makes it a little less sweet, which, unlikely as it seems, is a good thing!

Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart


200g plain flour

100g butter (from the fridge)

50g caster sugar

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

For the frangipane

100g soft butter

100g  caster sugar

2 eggs

140g ground almonds

75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

About 5 basil leaves

8-10 apricots, stoned and quartered

To serve

Icing sugar, softly whipped cream and vanilla bean paste


To make the pastry, mix the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into your food processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar and pulse again. Add the vanilla, egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water, and pulse until the dough just comes together.  Tip out and shape into a disc.  Chill for 30 minutes, then roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper, as this pastry is very crumbly.  Line a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry, pressing it into the sides. Chill for at least 30 mins.

Meanwhile, prepare the frangipane.  Using electric beaters if you have them, beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, then stir in the almonds, flour, and the torn basil leaves.

Heat oven to 160oC fan 4 and put in a baking tray to heat. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth. Poke the apricots into the frangipane. Bear in mind it’s a very rustic tart.

Transfer to the baking tray, in the oven, and bake for 40-50 mins (cover with foil after 30 mins if the tart is getting too dark) until the fruit is tender and a skewer poked in the frangipane comes out clean.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar, with a dollop of softly whipped cream mixed with a little vanilla bean paste, if you like.



My Foolish Custard Tart Recipe

Custard Tart is quintessentially English.  And delicious.  And not entirely the easiest thing to make.  Felicity Cloake- she who writes so well for the Guardian, analysed a myriad of recipes and came up with her “best of“.  And I agree with her on most of it. But I think for me it’s about balance.  I use a sweet pastry, and a very rich custard filling.  But without any additives of cinnamon or citrus.  Just the barest of gratings of nutmeg in the filling.

My Custard Tart Recipe


150g cold butter, diced

250g plain flour

100g caster sugar

1 large Egg, beaten

1 tablespoon whole milk


250ml double cream

250ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split

1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

4 egg yolks

100g caster sugar


To make the pastry, mix butter into the flour with a pinch of salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. I use my Kenwood for this. Add the sugar, egg and milk and bring together to form a dough.  Wrap in Greaseproof paper and refrigerate.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out and use it to line a 20cm tart tin, leave 2cm of pastry hanging over the edge. Chill for at least 30 mins, with the baking beans inserted.

Heat oven to 150oC fan.  Bake blind for 20 mins, then remove the beans and continue to cook for a further 10 mins until the base is golden with no hint of dampness.  Remove from oven and reduce the temperature to 120oC.

Bring the cream, milk, vanilla pod, and the small grating of nutmeg to the boil. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale using the whisk attachment then pour the hot milk and cream over, beating slowly as you go.  Leave to settle in a jug.

Carefully pour the custard into the tart case, grate some more nutmeg over the top and bake for about 35 mins or until just set in the middle.  A little like Brownies, you are looking for a wobble.  Remove from the oven, then leave to cool completely before serving in slices with a nice cup of tea.

Custard Tart

Yummy- but not quite right!

Of course, nothing ever goes entirely to plan.  I had got a little carried away with the whisking of the tart testing part 1.  And sure there were lovely ribbons in the bowl.  But of course you don’t WANT bubbles in it, as you loose the gorgeous silky texture.  So there had to be a round 2…..
This is the nicer custard but the “slightly” overcooked pastry… so the most successful of the two!

Custard Tart

Perfect consistency of custard, if I do say so myself!

An Apple a Day

We have just harvested the last of the apples.  Phew.  Well when I say we, I mean, of course the royal “we”. And most of them are going to cider making and apple juice.  But it would be just unfair not to make some apple desserts.  There are probably more variations on apple pies then there are apples.  But I have a number of favourites, one of which involves making THE easiest crust ever, and doesn’t take cold hands, or indeed, any resting.  This means it can be made at the last minute, if you feel like a little something sweet.


Elstar Apple

Elstar Apples

Apple Varieties:

We use alot of Elstar apples. It’s an offspring of Golden Delicious, and was introduced in 1972 from the Netherlands. It produces great crops, year after year, the apples last for some months when they are harvested.  We use it alot, and although it doesn’t have the sharp green skin that many want their apples to have, the taste is fantastic.  There are 144 apples native to Ireland, the Armagh Bramley Apple was awarded a protected status from the EU last year (A little like protecting champagne, and the Waterford Blaa).  I think my favourite is the Blenheim Orange for a cooking apple variety.

The recipe I use is great with lots of fruits, but with something like an apple, I tend to sauté them first to start the cooking process.


Caramelising Apples in Butter and Sugar

The crust is a simple crumble crust, that is simply mixed and pressed into the serving dish.  This tart doesn’t like being removed from it’s cooking dish, so is best served straight from it. But it also doesn’t need resting or chilling.

Crumb Pastry

Crumb pastry

Then simply add the semi cooked apples, cover with some cinnamon infused sugar, and bake until the sugar covering melts.

Apple Custard Tart

Crust with the caramelised apples

Then the cream/ egg yolks mix is poured gently over the apples, if possible while the tart stays on the oven shelf.  this cooks until golden and set.

Apple Tart

Apple Tart, with a custard filling

It only needs to cool for about 20 minutes before ready to slice carefully, and of course it can be served with more cream!


Birthdays and Parties- The Big Family Events

As we have a large extended family, there are regular birthdays and various celebrations.  We all give a hand, and this makes life easier for everyone!

Robert was away for his 17th birthday in Romania, so we had a cake for him when he came home for his stopover-

Robert and his Birthday Cake

Robert and his Birthday Cake

It was a variation on his favourite- vanilla layers with raspberries and cream, covered in an Italian Meringue, finished with a blow torch.

This weekend I’m on savoury duty for my nieces birthday, I’m thinking a nice salad- and a vegetarian tart- maybe asparagus if I can lay my hands on some nice stuff.



We learnt so many salads in Ballymaloe, and I really came to love making those salads that weren’t simply based on lettuce.  The roasted sweet potato and red onion with bulgar and herbs is one of those.  So simple.  So Healthy.  So tasty.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion with Bulgar and herbs

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion with Bulgar and herbs

The tart took more time and effort, as it has many stages, but is totally worth it.  First the pastry base is made and blind baked,

Pastry Shell ready to be baked blind.

Pastry Shell ready to be baked blind.

While that’s baking I prepared the fillings, sautéing the finely chopped onions, blanching the asparagus tips, and whisking the eggs, milk and cream.

Asparagus tips

Asparagus tips

After quickly combining everything in the shell, and a 30 minute bake…. voilà!

Asparagus Tart

Asparagus Tart

And everything went down a treat.  Now just the washing up to tackle….