Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Queen of Hearts...

made some tarts, all on a summer's day.

Apologies for the hiatus in blogging, I had a series of rather gruelling and nasty exams, which are, thankfully, now over. So it's nearly time for a summer tea party, and Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter and Jam Tarts are on my mind. These are filled with gooseberry jelly, which gives a rather delightful pinky-red hue.

You will need to make the jelly at least two days beforehand, or use shop bought.

Jelly (I don't know where this recipe comes from, my mother read it to me over the phone):

1.8kg gooseberries
Granulated Sugar
Liquid Pectin
Lemon juice

1. Put gooseberries in a very large pan and add enough water to just cover them. Bring to boil, simmer for 1 hour until the fruit is very soft. Stir occasionally to stop the fruit from sticking.
2. Filter the fruit mush through a jelly bag into a bowl overnight.
3. The next day discard the fruit mush, and measure the volume of juice. For each 600ml of juice use 450g sugar.
4. Put the sugar and the juice into a large pan (larger than you think - when it boils it will double or triple in size, and gooseberry caramel is less than fun to clean off the cooker) and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
5. Bring the jelly to the boil and boil for abour 15 minutes. Take off the heat and add about 50ml of pectin and about 20ml of lemon juice. Using an iced saucer you can test for set, or you can just chance it!
6. Whilst hot, pour into sterilised (and still hot) jam jars and put the lids on tightly (this requires skill and good oven gloves to avoid burns and scalds). Leave to cool completely.

Pastry (loosely based on: this one:

220g plain flour
100g COLD butter chopped into 1 inch pieces.
3 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar
75ml of COLD water (may need more or less depending on flour, humidity, etc)

1. Put flour, sugar and butter in a food processor (Magimix) and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs and there are no lumps of butter left. (This can be done by rubbing in by hand too, but in the summer weather my hands are too hot to effectively do this!)
2. Slowly add the water bit by bit, continuing to mix or pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.
3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile grease a shallow 12-hole tart tin.
5. Retrieve dough from fridge and roll out to about 3 mm thick. Do not roll it too thin or it will fall apart and leak. Cut rounds - for a standard tart tin you will need a cutter at least 3 inch (~8cm) in diameter or the tarts won't have tall enough walls. Place these into the tart tin. Gently fit to the tin, but take care not to stretch the pastry, or they will shrink back during baking.
6. Put a teaspoon of jelly into each tart. Resist the temptation to overfill - they will overflow and make more gooseberry caramel.
8. Top with a little cut out of a heart (I used some rather ancient aspic cutters) then leave the tarts to rest for about 15 minutes.
9. Bake for 15 minutes in a 200C oven.
10. Leave to cool COMPLETELY before eating - these will be like jam volcanoes and dangerous to eat initially.

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