Easy. Really, really easy. How often do you read that when someone describes their favourite tart or cake? And then their first instruction is to grease and line a baking tin, or rub butter into flour or ‘simply cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy’.
Hello. Simple? Easy perhaps but time consuming.
I think it’s the fact that I am so time-deficient in summer that I don’t have time to cut and paste baking paper onto a favourite baking tin; or cream butter and sugar. I don’t have the sort of kitchen, or inclination where a mixer stands idly by on a benchtop just waiting for me to bake.
And rubbing butter into flour to make a perfect pastry in hot weather never thrills me either.
I would rather be outdoors. And I don’t want to spend ages standing near a hot oven in the heat.
So this is my solution. And I’m writing about it now as cooler months are the perfect time to remind yourself how wonderful it is to have fresh fruit. And if you are really, really clever, you will still have things in the freezer just waiting for you to put the fruit to good use.
This is also a brilliant tart to freeze. I always bake two at once.
Rock climber, cyclist, ski tourer, alpine walker, you name it, Alice is more likely outside at altitude in the French or Italian alps than hanging over a stove.
And when she told me that she had the perfect easy tart I knew she meant it. I am forever grateful she has shared the recipe and like all enthusiastic cooks, I gladly pass it on.
The biggest cheat for us in France is we get fantastic ready rolled pastry. Not mucked about, made with butter. Pate Brisee. This is a good time to either make your own pastry (that would be Sarah’s solution) or find a brand that works. I buy in bulk and freeze them too.
All I have to remember is to defrost them about half an hour before I’m ready to assemble and bake the tart.
I’m not giving the exact quantities needed for the fruit or flaked almonds because you have to play around with this tart to make it your own.
But you are going to need enough fruit – berries, halved apricots, tinned pears, sliced peaches, halved plums – to cover the bottom of the tart and look generous. And a handful of flaked almonds. I just keep a jar ready whenever I need to make this amazing dessert. But count on a handful.
The flaked almonds on the base of the tart are the secret to its success; it adds crunch and interest.
If you forget to add them you will find yourself with a bit too much blandness.
It has been known to happen if I’m in a hurry and remember I’ve left a hose on and need to move fast.
And you can either add sugar over the top of the tart just before baking, or superfine (caster) sugar.
The custard element comes from a very simple combination of milk, egg and flour. All mixed together in one fast minute with minimal washing up. My kind of tart.
- Pate Brisee (shortcrust pastry)
- Flaked Almonds
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Extra sugar for the top
Preheat your oven to a good hot temperature of 240C or 475F.
Roll the pastry onto the tart tin and gently press into place. Don’t prick the base with a fork as you will lose the liquid while it’s cooking.
Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds all over the base.
Add any fruit you like, as long as it is generous. I just add my jostaberries or fruit that I have frozen directly into the pastry base.
In a jug pour in a cup of milk and add the egg. Whisk or stir together well and then add in the flour and stir until no lumps are visible. Add the vanilla and sugar and stir again.
(I cheat and just use vanilla sugar and skip the actual vanilla extract.)
Pour this milk mixture evenly over the tart. Sprinkle with an extra bit of sugar and then bake.
Check the tart at 30 minutes, but be prepared to give it the full 40 minutes to have it bubbling and ever so slightly burnt and dripping down the sides.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool five minutes and serve. Creme fraiche is a perfect accompaniment.