As the weather is cooling down in London, I can finally use my oven again without completely melting at the scene. Which is great, because I really wanted to bake a tart last weekend and now that I have, I am delighted with the result. The hours spent hovering over a pot of bubbling jam or stretching buttery pastry which literally melt under my fingers or standing by the hot oven checking on the baking time…all worth it to eat a slice of this lovely summer tart with red gooseberry jam and custard cream.
I made the pastry and cream using tried and tested family recipes. Usually in summer I make custard cream tarts with fresh fruit and gelatine on top, but this time I decided to add a twist to my recipe with a layer of homemade jam.
Last week I received a box of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit from New Covent Garden Market, the largest fruit, vegetable and flower market in the UK. In the box I got these beautiful juicy red gooseberries, which I had never seen before, and thought they would make a great jam.
Red gooseberries are rarely seen in shops, but they tend to be sweeter than green gooseberries and their flavour provides an incredibly sweet and slightly acidic taste.
Red gooseberries are great to make jam or to use in desserts such as compote and crumbles. They are naturally high in pectin, so to make the jam all you need is equal quantities of gooseberries and sugar. To make the jam for this cake I reduced the amount of sugar, just because I knew it would be paired with the sweet custard cream.
I love how this cake turned out, even though the looks are not perfect (I really struggled working with the pastry in my hot kitchen). I would have liked to play around with designs of criss-crossing lines, but it’s already a miracle that I managed to make strips of roughly the same width!
This tart is absolutely delicious: buttery with a crunchy crust, sweet, with a hint of acidity provided by the gooseberries. It’s perfect for an afternoon tea or as a dessert, served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Adapted from my Fruit Tart recipe.
For the pastry
- 330g plain flour
- 170g cold, unsalted butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp baking powder (optional, it makes the pastry softer)
- pinch of salt
- zest of 1 lemon
For the jam
- 250g red gooseberries, washed and trimmed
- 200g caster sugar
- 30ml water
For the cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 70g white sugar
- 25g plain flour, sifted
- 250ml milk
- zest of 1 lemon
Shape the flour in a fountain, place the pieces of cold butter in the centre, with sugar on top. Knead the butter and sugar first, then slowly add the flour into the mix. Keep kneading, then add the egg, baking powder, lemon zest and pinch of salt.
Once you have a ball of smooth pastry, flatten it with the palm of your hand, wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to cool for at least 1 hour.
Put the gooseberries and water in a large wide pan. Bring to the boil then simmer until the fruit is very soft and pulpy.
Add the sugar and stir over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove pan from heat, and test to see if the jam has set. Test the jam on a metal spoon: if the surface of the jam wrinkles and somewhat holds its shape, it has reached setting point and is ready. Store the jam in a sterilised jar.
To make the cream, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, then slowly add flour and milk. Stir continuously to avoid creating lumps in the cream. Add lemon zest and move the bowl to the stove. Cook with low flame until the cream becomes thick. Don’t stop stirring, always moving in the same direction. When the cream starts to boil, remove from the stove.
Take the pastry out of the fridge. Cover it with a layer of clean clingfilm and spread the pastry using a rolling pin. Lay the flat pastry on a greased baking tray. Use the rolling pin to trim off the edges. Place the remaining pastry back in the fridge.
Blind bake in the oven at 180 °C for 20 minutes.
Take the tart out of the oven and spread the base with a layer of jam, then spread custard cream over it.
Use the remaining pastry to cut long strips and cross them over the tart. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the pastry strips are baked and golden in the colour.
Store in an airtight container.