Claire Kelleher says (in her best American accent): ‘That fruit was REAL shiny!’
When Charlotte announced she was christening her birthday present – a fresh pasta making machine, I decided we needed a fittingly Italian desert to complete the meal. I headed straight for the Jamie’s Italy cookbook and this fruit tart jumped out at me.
I haven’t always been such a fan of baking, but nowadays producing pretty looking puddings on a Sunday is definitely one of my favourite things to do! It started back with Julia and I as kids icing rich tea biscuits different colours in my mums kitchen, I then progressed to chocolate cornflake Easter nests and now with an arsenal of recipe books at my disposal in the Keston kitchen, making cakes or desserts is pretty much a weekly event!
When I initially read this recipe - admittedly I over looked that you are supposed to refrigerate the pastry for an hour before you roll it and then freeze in for a further hour before baking but if you have the time to wait around for 2 hours, the actual making part is easy peasy. It is worth making your own pastry for the lemony twist Jamie adds.
As you will see below you can use any berries you like, it doesn’t have to be blackberries and any alcohol of your choice too!
RECIPE – serves about 10 people (or a lot more if you feed them a mountain of pasta before hand)
For the shortcrust pastry
• 125g/4.5 oz butter
• 100g/3.5 oz icing sugar
• a small pinch of salt
• 255g/9oz plain flour
• 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed (I didn’t put this in)
• zest of 1/2 a lemon
• 2 large egg yolks, preferably organic
• 2 tablespoons cold milk or water
For the filling
• 1 vanilla pod (I bought the last one in East Dulwich so you might have to go further a field!)
• 500g/1lb 2oz mascarpone
• 100ml/3½fl oz single cream
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 3 tablespoons grappa or vin santo (I used Brandy)
• 310g/11oz blackberries (I also added raspberries and blueberries)
• 2 tablespoons blackberry or raspberry jam (to make the fruit shiny)
• a small handful of fresh baby mint leaves (I didn’t put this on)
First you will need to grease a 28cm/11 inch loose-bottomed tart tin with a little butter. To make your pastry, cream together the butter, icing sugar and salt and rub in the flour, vanilla seeds, lemon zest and egg yolks – you can do all this by hand or in a food processor. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, add the cold milk or water. Pat and gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough, then flour it lightly. Don’t work the pastry too much, otherwise it will become elastic and chewy, not flaky and short as you want it to be. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove it from the fridge, roll it out and line your tart tin. Place in the freezer for an hour. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and bake the pastry case for around 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
To make the filling, split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds by running a knife along the inside of each half. Put the mascarpone, cream, vanilla seeds, sugar and grappa into a large bowl and whip until shiny. Have a taste – you should have an intensely rich, fluffy and lightly sweetened cream with a fresh hint of grappa. If you can’t get grappa, you can do it without, or add a swig of vin santo instead.
Once the pastry has cooled, get yourself a spatula and add the sweetened cream to the pastry case. Smear it all round so it’s reasonably level, then cover it with the berries – place them lightly on the cream, no need to push them in. If you want to be a bit more generous than this, feel free, and if you want to mix your berries you can do this too. Next, in a small pan, melt down a couple of tablespoons of jam with 3 or 4 tablespoons of water. Stir until it becomes a light syrup, then, using a clean pastry brush, lightly dip and dab the fruit with the jam.
Sprinkle with the baby mint leaves before eating. Great served either as one large tart or as small individual ones. Lovely with your afternoon tea. Either serve straight away or place in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it.
Jules and Jake made it back just in time for a bit of sunday night tart (Jake's 4th pudding of the day!)
Watch this space for more puddings and our new favourite cakey cookbook will feature I'm sure - The Hummingbird Bakery recipe book.