Carol Wilson bakes some tempting tarts, including chocolate tart, apple and orange tart  and treacle tart.

Everyone enjoys a delicious tart with a crisp pastry crust. Whether sweet or savoury, large or bite sized, simple or sophisticated, a tart is an ideal way of stretching a few ingredients.You can vary the flavour simply by adding ingredients such as herbs or cheese to savoury pastry or nuts or chocolate chips to sweet pastry. Many people are nervous about making pastry but a food processor makes the job simple. The addition of golden icing sugar produces a sweet crisp result – perfect for sweet pies. Omit the sugar for savoury tarts.Basic pastry recipe175g/6oz plain flour2 tablespoons golden icing sugarpinch of salt110g/4oz chilled unsalted butter, diced1 egg yolk1-2 tablespoons iced waterPut the flour, golden icing sugar and salt into the bowl of the food processor. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water until the mixture forms a lump. Add more water if it’s too dry. Turn the pastry onto a floured surface and knead lightly for 2 minutes only. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.Crème brûlée tartThe silky smooth texture of the creamy filling is irresistiblepastry as above250ml/9floz double or whipping cream4 egg yolks2 tablespoons golden caster sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract4 tablespoons golden icing sugarRoll out the pastry and line a shallow loose-based 20cm/8 inch flan tin with greaseproof paper or foil, and weigh down with beans or rice to prevent the pastry rising. Bake ‘blind’ for 10 minutes gas 5/190ºC, then remove the beans and paper and replace in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until cooked. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to gas 1-2/120ºC. Bring the cream to the boil in a pan. Remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar, then slowly pour on the hot cream and add the vanilla. Strain the mixture into the pastry case and bake for about 45 minutes until the filling has set. Leave the tart to cool completely. Preheat the grill to medium and sprinkle the top of the tart with the golden icing sugar. Protect the pastry with strips of foil. Place under the grill until the top is brown and bubbling. Leave to cool before serving.Chocolate tartThe rich flavour of dark muscovado sugar goes particularly well with chocolate and adds extra depth to the flavour of this delectable tart. For the best results use chocolate with at least 60% cocoa solids.double quantity of mixer pastry225g/8oz plain chocolate110g/4oz butter75g/3oz dark muscovado sugar25g/1oz unrefined demerara sugar2 tablespoons cocoa powder2 tablespoons instant coffee powder150ml/1/2pt hot water4 eggsRoll out the pastry and use to line the base and sides of a 23cm/9inch 3cm/1/2inch deep fluted flan tin. Line with greaseproof paper or foil and weigh down with beans or rice to prevent the pastry rising. Bake blind at 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6 for 15 minutes or until the base is dry. Put the chocolate, butter and both sugars in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water, stirring until smooth and melted. Mix the cocoa and coffee with the hot water stirring until smooth. In a large bowl beat the eggs until frothy and stir in the other two mixtures. Pour into the pastry case and bake at gas 1/130ºC for 40-45 minutes or until firm and risen. Serve warm or cold with crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream.  Apple and orange tartFruit pies were the earliest type of sweet pies and among the oldest of these were apple pies.4 cooking apples3 tablespoons golden caster sugar225g/8oz puff pastry110g/4oz Seville orange marmalade2 oranges, peeled and sliced4 tablespoons orange juice

 Peel, core and quarter the apples and poach them in a little water with the sugar until soft and tender, but still retaining their shape. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm/ 8 inch flan dish. Spread the marmalade over the base. Arrange the apple quarters and sliced oranges in the pastry case and sprinkle with orange juice. Bake for 30-40 minutes gas 4/180°C. Serve warm.

Tarte tatin

A French upside down apple tart made with puff pastry.300g/12oz puff pastry8-10 Golden Delicious apples200g/7oz golden caster sugar110g/4oz unsalted butter

Peel and core the apples and halve or quarter them. Heat the butter and sugar in an ovenproof frying pan until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange the apples in the pan, fitting them together tightly. Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil. Cook slowly for 20-40 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the apples, until the mixture becomes caramel coloured. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Roll out the pastry 5cm/2inches larger than the pan and place it carefully over the apples, pressing the sides to the edges of the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes gas 8/230º C until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pastry. Place a serving plate over the pan and invert onto the plate. – the tart may be very juicy. Serve warm with cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.Walnut and honey tartA sweet crunchy treat with orange flavoured pastry.6oz plain flourpinch of salt3oz of buttergrated rind and juice of 1 large orange4 tablespoons honey3oz fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs3 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar3 eggs4oz walnuts, chopped roughlySift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the orange rind and enough juice to form a soft dough. Line an 8inch flan tin with the pastry and bake ‘blind’ for 10-15 minutes gas 6. Mix together the honey, breadcrumbs and sugar.  Gradually beat in the eggs and any remaining orange juice. Scatter the walnuts over the base of the pastry case and pour over the filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes gas 6/200ºC until cooked through. If the tart is browning too fast during the cooking time, cover with foil. Cool in the tin, and then finish cooling on a wire rack.Treacle tartSome commercial treacle tarts are overpoweringly sweet. This recipe included black treacle and lemon juice to cut the sweetness of the syrup. Treacle tarts are always decorated with a pastry lattice.

 pastry as basic recipe2 tablespoons black treacle175g/6oz golden syrup75g/3oz fresh breadcrumbsgrated zest and juice of 1 lemon1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 Roll out two thirds of the pastry and line a 23cm/9inch loose-based flan tin about 3cm/11/2 inches deep. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon into the pastry case, spreading it out evenly. Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut out strips about 5mm/1/4 inch wide and twist them. Lay on top of the tart in a lattice. Bake for 20-30 minutes gas 5/190ºC until the pastry is golden. Serve hot or cold.

 Chicken and ham open pie

 Double quantity of pastry as basic recipe, omitting the golden icing sugar.225g/8oz pork sausage meat1 teaspoon chopped fresh mixed herbs1 large egg, beaten1kg/2lb boneless chicken breasts450g/1lb ham, bacon or gammon, slicedsalt and pepper3 tablespoons dry white winebeaten egg to glazejellied stock: 300ml/10floz good quality chicken stock2 tablespoons powdered gelatine

 Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use 2/3 to line a spring form loose-based cake tin about 1.1litre/2pints/5cups capacity.  Combine the sausage meat with the herbs and beaten egg. Slice the chicken meat and ham. Fill the pastry case with layers of chicken and ham, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper – be careful if the ham is salty. Spread the sausage meat mixture on the top. Sprinkle over the wine. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into long ribbons. Lay over the top to form a lattice. Alternatively use a lattice cutter. Brush the lattice with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes gas 8/230°C to set the pastry, then reduce the heat to gas 3/160°C and cook for about an hour or until the meat is cooked. If the pastry is becoming too brown, cover it loosely with foil. Cool the pie in the tin and remove when cold. Pour the stock into a small pan and sprinkle the gelatine on top. Leave for a few minutes to soften then heat gently until the gelatine has dissolved completely. When it is on the point of setting, pour into the pie to fill the gaps where the meat has shrunk away from the crust. Chill until ready to serve.Cheese, herb and walnut quiche

Use the pastry as basic recipe omitting the golden icing sugar.225g/8oz soft cheese – plain or with garlic and herbs2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs150ml/5floz milk or single cream50g/2oz walnuts, chopped3 eggs, separatedsalt and pepper


Roll out the pastry and line a 23cm flan tin or dish. Bake ‘blind’ for 10-15 minutes gas 6/200ºC. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Beat the cheese with the herbs, walnuts and salt and pepper to taste. Beat the egg yolks with the milk and stir into the cheese mixture. Fold the egg whites into the mixture until thoroughly combined. Put into the pastry case and bake for 20-25 minutes gas 6/200ºC until golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm. 


Smoked haddock quiche

 Double quantity of pastry as basic recipe, omitting the golden icing sugar.450g/1lb smoked haddock or cod fillets, skinned and cubed2 eggs, beaten150ml/5floz milk1 teaspoon Dijon mustard100g/31/2 oz cheddar cheese, grated2 tablespoons fresh chopped chivesblack pepper

Roll out the pastry and line the base of a 30cm/12 inch flan dish. Mix the eggs, milk, mustard, cheese, chives and fish together.   Season to taste with black pepper. Pour into the pastry case. Bake for 25 minutes gas mark5/190°C until set and golden brown. 

This article is from the July 2006 issue of Country Smallholding magazine. << To order back issues click the link to the left.


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