When summer happens along in Britain, which it does occasionally, my thoughts soon turn to summer fruits. Sweet strawberries, ruby red raspberries and beautiful blackberries are amongst many of the soft fruits this fertile isle produces. They are the best in the world and they are so versatile. You can enjoy them with nothing more than a sprinkling of sugar and a drizzle of cream. Or turn them in to jewel coloured jams to see you through the dark winter months. How about creating the quintessential Summer Pudding, in all its sweet, juicy loveliness? The list is endless. Last year I was asked to develop a recipe that encompassed the British Summer. This is the recipe I came up with and it combines many of my favourite summer flavours. This tart has an all butter shortcrust pastry case, filled with a creamy egg custard and topped with summer fruits in a Pimm’s jelly. It’s a celebration of all that is best about a British Summer and the perfect centrepiece for a special celebration.
Ingredients – serves 8
250g/9oz plain flour
50g/2oz icing sugar
125g/4½oz unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg, beaten
Egg Custard Filling
6 large egg yolks
80g/3oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split and scrape out the seeds
500ml/18floz double cream
Pimm’s Jelly Summer Fruits Topping
400g/14floz soft fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
100ml/4½floz Pimm’s (substitute Vimto cordial for a non-alcoholic version)
100g/4½oz caster sugar
4 leaves of gelatin
Prep time and cooking time: 1 hour, 50 minutes plus resting and cooling time
Preheat oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3 (AGA equivalent). Grease a 26cm/10” loose bottomed flan tin and place a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the tin. Into a large bowl sift in the flour and icing sugar. Rub in the cubes of butter until a breadcrumb texture is achieved. Add in the egg and gently combined with your hands, to form a soft dough. Handle as little as possible to achieve a light pastry. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 40 minutes to chill. Roll out, line the flan tin, trim, line with another circle of greaseproof and pour in baking beans. Use uncooked rice or pulses if you don’t have baking beans. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and put to one side. Turn the oven down to 130°/Gas Mark 1 (AGA equivalent).
To make the egg custard. Separate eggs and place yolks in a bowl. Add in the sugar and beat lightly. Pour cream in to a pan, add vanilla seeds and bring to the boil. Pour on to the egg mixture, whisking as you pour. Sieve the mixture then pour into the flan case. Place the flan tin on a tray and put in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes until the custard is set. Put aside to cool.
To make the summer fruits jelly. Place the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water. Into a large pan pour the water, Pimm’s, (or Vimto) and sugar. Bring to a fast simmer and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add in the fruits and bring back to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and lift the fruit out with a slotted spoon. Ensuring it is well drained place the fruit on top of the egg custard. Bring the liquid back to a simmer. Squeeze all the water out of the gelatine sheets and add to the pan of fruit liquid. Stir occasionally until dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Spoon over the fruit topping and place in the fridge to set.
Serve the tart on its own or with cream.