Delias Gooseberry Tart

Last week, while visiting the in-laws, we stocked up on frozen berries from their garden, mostly gooseberries and a few red currants. So, with lots of recycled ice cream boxes filled to the brim with gooseberries taking up my valued freezer space, I decided to try this recipe from Delia Smith for a Sunday afternoon treat.

Gooseberry Tart

Gooseberry and Creme Fraiche Tart

It is, in fact, deceptively simple.

I chose to make an all-butter-dough since I didn’t have lard at hand and didn’t want to buy some just for one pie crust. The result was a very easy to make, wonderful flaky tart crust – but the baking time was shorter than given. Probably, if I had used a ceramic pie pan instead of a metal tin, it would have taken longer.

Gooseberry and Creme Fraiche Tart

recipe by Delia Smith
serves 6-8

5oz (150 g) plain flour
1¼ oz (30 g) butter
1¼ oz (30 g) lard
1 lb (450 g) gooseberries, topped and tailed
3½ fl oz (100 ml) crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks
1½ oz (40 g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

You will also need a 9 in (23 cm) loose-based flan tin, about 1¼ in (3 cm) deep, lightly greased.

Firstly, sift the flour into a bowl, then add the fat, cut into smallish lumps, then take a knife and begin to cut the fat into the flour. Go on doing this until it looks fairly evenly blended, then begin to rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips only and being as light as possible. Being light with your fingers is not a special gift, it’s just what’s needed here, so don’t go on rubbing all day, just long enough to make the mixture crumbly with a few odd lumps here and there. Sprinkle 1½ tablespoons of cold water over the mixture, then, with a knife, start bringing the dough together, using the knife to make it cling. Then discard the knife and finally bring it together with your fingertips. When enough liquid is added, the pastry should leave the bowl completely clean. If this hasn’t happened, keep adding a spot more water (sometimes it really only needs your fingers dipped into water to bring it together). All pastry must be rested before rolling out. If you’re in a hurry, this can seem like an awful bore, but I promise you it will, in fact, save you more time in the end. So place it in a polythene bag and leave it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C). Place a solid baking sheet in the oven to pre-heat as well. Then roll the pastry out to a circle, line the pastry tin and prick the base with a fork. Use some of the egg yolk for the filling to paint all over the sides and base of the pastry. Now place the pastry-lined tin on the hot baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is just beginning to turn golden. Remove it from the oven and turn the heat down to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Next whisk the crème fraîche, egg yolks, sugar and balsamic vinegar together. Arrange the gooseberries in the flan case, pour the crème fraîche mixture all over and then return the flan to the oven and bake until the custard is set, which will be about 40-45 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and allow it to settle for about 20 minutes before serving. It also tastes extremely good served cold.

I was a little disappointed because the balsamic vinegar didn’t leave an impression at all. Maybe it was too subtle for the tart (pun intended) gooseberries. The pie / tart is really good, and more on the sour side than sweet, which I liked a lot. The custard needs a lot of time to set and you should definitely give the custard some time to cool and set completely.

This might be good with a ball of vanilla ice cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream, but actually it is also delicious without additions. I might add (real) vanilla sugar to the custard next time.

Another keeper for the berry season. I may have to try this in small serving-size tartlet tins.

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