I’ve looked at the picture of these tarts in the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book for so long; I’ve even bought the tart tins in preparation of making it … but I’ve never gotten round to it. Why? Well it’s a mixture of I’m terrified of anything pastry-related and it takes a long time to make.
So why make it now? Well I had a spare Sunday and I was determined to do at least one pastry dish by the end of the year – otherwise I’m just a baking pansy! So I went out and got all my ingredients together, poured myself a glass of wine (for some Dutch courage) and I was on my way.
The pastry was made by whisking together the butter and flour and adding the sugar and egg. Once this started to turn into a dough I kneaded the mix to ‘bring it together’. Now I’ve watched a lot of Great British Bake Off and I know all about over-kneading pastry … I have no idea what constitutes over (or under) kneading. Hmmm … I made a not-so-educated guess, wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge for 30minutes.
A glass of wine and an episode of Friends later I brought out the dough, cut it in half, put one half back in the fridge and started to roll out the other half to line my pre-greased tart tins. The recipe says to roll out the pastry to 5mm but I managed to roll it out too thin on my first two attempts. I also found that the pastry ripped really quickly and have no idea whether it’s due to under (or over) working the dough.
Thankfully I started to get the hang of working with the dough and managed to line all eight tins, the last one being much more professionally done than the first! These went back into the fridge for another 30 minutes before they were lined with greaseproof paper, covered in baking beads and cooked for 10 minutes in the oven.
The baking beads are then removed and the tarts went back in the oven for another 10 minutes to turn a light golden brown colour. Once these were out and cooling, I got started on the filling.
Reading this recipe again, I’ve realised that the title is ‘Caremalised Fruit AND Nut Tarts’. Clearly in my eagerness to get underway, I completely missed the nut part of the recipe. I had bought tons of dried fruit but no nuts! Ah well. I measured out all the drived fruit and chopped up the dried apricots so that it wouldn’t look too bulky.
On to the caramel – if you’ve ever made caramel before you’ll understand the incredible, almost-impossible-to-deny temptation to stir the sugar and water while it’s boiling. It’s unbelievable how stir-able that mixture looks bubbling away. I measured the double cream and butter to stop myself stirring it and it still wasn’t enough to distract me. I literally stood there staring at the caramel praying it would turn golden brown before I gave into temptation.
It did (thankfully) and from watching the Great British Bake Off I learnt to dunk the bottom of the pot into cold water – this stops the caramel from continuing to cook after you’ve taken it off the heat and greatly reduces the chance of burning it.
After cooling for a little while the double cream and butter was stirred into the mixture and poured on top of the dried fruit. Once this was all mixed together, the dried fruit was separated between tart tins and put in the fridge for an hour to set. There seemed to be a LOT of fruit in comparison to the amount of space in the tarts, but I stuck to the recipe and created nice ‘mounds’ of filling.
Just before serving, I whipped up some more double cream to go with the tarts and brought it out after dinner with some tea. They went down really well with the family, it’s a really rich dessert and would make a really nice end to a posh dinner party.
I, however, found it a bit too rich and too sweet. OK so I put 100% dried fruit in there instead of a mixture of fruit and nuts, but I think the outcome would have still been too rich for me. The pastry was lovely (and there were no soggy bottoms or breaks!); I think I’ve finally faced my fear and I’m already planning to try out some more recipes. I’d actually love to try this recipe again but with sliced bananas instead of dried fruit, as I think this would be heavenly.