Friday, June 28

Gooseberry & Elderflower Meringue Tart

More usually made with lemon, this variant is inspired by Mark Hix but uses my mums recipe and gooseberries from my garden. You want the fruit filling to be sharp to offset the sweet meringue. I was surprised by how sweet my gooseberries were which upset the balance of the tart a little - make sure you add the sugar to taste after adding the cordial

Gooseberries - 500g, twigs and stalks removed
Caster sugar
Elderflower cordial - 2 tbsp
Egg whites - 4 (save the yolk)
Plain Flour - 300g
Butter - 150g

To make the pastry, pulse the flour and butter with 1 tbsp of caster sugar until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.  Add two reserved egg yolks and blitz until the pastry comes together.  If the mixture is too dry and not coming together, add a tbsp of milk - one at a time - until you have a soft but not sticky ball of pastry. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest in a fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and line an 8 inch, loose bottomed sponge tin with the pastry. Cover the pastry with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking beans or dried beans (coins also work well). Blind bake for 20 mins then remove the paper and beans, lightly prick the base with a fork then bake for 10 to 15 mins more. The pastry case should look ‘dry’ and be golden – if not cook a bit longer. Trim the top of the pastry case with a serrated knife to get a nice even edge.

Next make the compote - on a medium heat with the cordial and a splash of water bring the berries to the simmer. Cook until they have burst but have not lost all of their texture. Taste and add a little sugar if the mix is too sharp for your taste.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites to stiff peak stage. I used an electric hand whisk. With the whisk still running add 25% of the sugar, beating in as you go. Repeat until all the sugar is incorporated. The result should be a glossy thick meringue that shows the path of the whisk as you beat. 

Assemble the tart: compote into pastry case, meringue on top. To get the impressive peaks and swirls, use a spatula to "pat" the top of the meringue all over. Bake at 180c for 25 to 30 minutes until crisp and golden - if you are unsure....better to cook a little bit longer than not enough. Serve with pouring cream.

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