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Sunday, 4 May 2014

FRUIT TARTS

Good Morning to you,


In our village in Cyprus, there was a lovely bakery which sold traditional Cypriot breads and the most wonderful, sweet and sticky cakes, such as honey soaked Loukmades, Baklava, which were made with thin layers of filo pastry, layered with chopped nuts and drizzled with honey. Small Daktyla, also known as Ladies Fingers, made with an almond filling and an oh so lovely, Walnut Cake, which was drenched in a sweet syrup.

We both loved visiting the local bakery, but George loved it a little more than I did.  Shall I tell you why?

The Cypriot bakery is a very different experience to English bakeries, because as with most food sold  in Cyprus, you could taste before you bought anything. So if we wanted to buy a cake, but not sure of its flavour, we would be given a sample to try. It reminds me of the scene from the film The Birdcage, when Albert is visiting his local bakery and he decides to taste the cakes on offer. He tries one, turns to leave and can't help himself when he returns to the counter and says, "just one more..... when the Snecken beckons". Well George is Albert..... he cannot resist trying everything which is on offer.

Before we lived in Cyprus, I cooked George a lot of Cypriot savoury dishes, but I had never made sweet dishes. So when we moved to Cyprus, the village bakery, with all its delicacies, was a new experience for him. I have to tell you, after that  initial visit, he would always volunteer to go to the bakery to buy the bread. 

When visiting a Cypriot bakery, you should try one or two samples, alright, I'll stretch it to three or four samples.... but really no more. Not George, the first time he visited the bakery, his eyes lit up to see all the different sweet samples on offer, but this bakery also sold a range of black and green olives and a delicious savoury called a koupa, which we both really enjoyed.  A koupa has a crisp outer coating of pourgouri and a filling of deliciously flavoured minced meat, combined with seasoning, parsley and onions. This is then deep fried to form a crispy outer layer.... but I am digressing... on with the story. When we arrived at the bakery, George went to the first counter where he was given a selection of olives to try and the assistant also cut up a koupa for him to taste. He enthusiastically ate the olives and the koupa and then made his way to the next counter, to see what was on offer.  There he tried pieces of Loukoumades, pieces of Baklava and yes there is more, even Walnut cake.  We bought some Baklava, koupas and olives and made our way to the counter to pay..... you would not believe it, but there on the counter were even more samples. Each day there would be a different sample set out on the counter for customers to try.  I cannot remember what the sample was on offer that day, but George tasted the sample and smiled to say he enjoyed it. The Bakery Assistant saw his pleasure and wrapped up half a dozen pieces of cake, in a napkin, for George to take home..... free of charge. How kind was that. When we arrived home, it was lunch time.  We were going to have lunch, and when I asked George if he was ready to eat, he said "oh no, I'm too full". So after that, we always joked that when George went to the bakery on his own, he was going for either, his breakfast or his lunch, depending on the time of day.  To put this into perspective, George was not on his own, as when George was sampling the cakes and savouries, so were most of the other men who were in the bakery, with us women raising our eyes at each other, as if to say "Honestly, he ate before he left home".

The reason I am telling you this story, is because there was a delicious fruit tart which the bakery sold and which I loved.  You know how the mind wanders, well mine was certainly wandering the other day, when I was ironing, and for some reason, I  started thinking about these tarts, so I decided it was time to make them again.


So here we have it, my version of a Fruit Tart. You can choose the fruit which you like the most, I sometimes add strawberries or kiwi fruit, really it depends on what is in season.

So it is on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to today, is an album which George loves,


Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits.  Mark Knofler is a fellow Geordie, and one of my friends at the sewing group, told me the other day, that she attended Gosforth High School at the same time as Mark and remembers him well.  Speaking of Mark Knofler, I heard a song on the radio the other day, it was Mark dueting with James Taylor, the song was "Sailing to Philadelphia", we both really liked it and it is on Mark's  album "Sailing to Philadelphia". One of the verses is,

"We are sailing to Philadelphia,
a world away from the coaly Tyne,
sailing to Philadelphia
to draw the line
a Mason-Dixon Line."

When George was a child, the Tyne River, was practically at the bottom of his street.

The music is playing and George is in the kitchen with me..... he says to listen to Dire Straits..... but I have my doubts, I think it is the fruit tarts which are holding him to the kitchen.

My ingredients are ready. Today I will give you the ingredients for the sweet pastry, but not how to make it, as we have made pastry so many times before.

So without further ado,

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE PASTRY

275g plain flour
140g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
30g icing sugar
pinch of salt

CUSTARD

4 egg yolks
65g caster sugar
3 level tablespoonfuls of plain flour
300ml milk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoonful of vanilla essence

FRUIT

1 Mango cut into small pieces
100g raspberries
100g blueberries

Oven temperature: 180C
4 x 12cm pastry tins
4 rounds of baking parchment, cut to overlap 
the sides of the pastry tins.

HOW TO MAKE
FRUIT TARTS

Make the pastry 
cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Meanwhile


Place the eggs yolks

and


the sugar 
into a bowl
and
whisk until thick and creamy.


Gradually stir in the sifted flour.


Place the milk 
and


a pinch of salt
into a saucepan and
heat until the milk just comes to
boiling point.
Remove from the heat.



Add the vanilla extract and stir.

Slowly pour the hot milk into the
egg mixture whisking all the time.



Return the milk and egg mixture
to the saucepan.

Using a wooden spoon and over a low heat 
stir
until the mixture thickens.
Stir for a further 3 minutes.
Keep an eye on it as you do not want
the custard to stick to the pan. 
I do not own a small non stick pan, but I think
if you have one, I would recommend
that you use it, as
it will prevent the custard 
sticking to the pan.

When cooked, place in a bowl,
cover and allow to cool.


Whilst the custard is cooling,
butter the 4 baking tins.

Roll out the pastry


and place in the baking tins.
Make sure you press the pastry into the sides
of the tin.
Prick the base with a fork to prevent the 
pastry rising whilst in the oven.


Place the pre-cut parchment paper inside
the tart case and place baking beans
on top.

Bake for 10 minutes,
then remove the baking beans and parchment paper.
Return the pastry to the oven for a further
6 minutes or until the pastry cases are baked
and are golden brown.

Allow the pastry cases to cool.


When the pastry cases and custard are cool,
divide the custard between the four pastry cases.


Arrange the fruit on top of
the custard.
This fruit tart has only raspberries and blueberries
as the recipient did not like mango.


I wanted to show you the sides of the
tart, when you bite into the pastry
you will find that it is beautifully crisp.


There is only one thing left to do
and that is,
invite some friends for afternoon tea
and enjoy yourself.

Sometimes I will add a glaze to the tarts, but on this occasion, I decided against it, as I love the freshness of the fruit.

George is still in the kitchen, waiting patiently, as always, for me to say.... yes that is the perfect photograph,  before he can enjoy his tart.... he is lovely, he never complains.

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

This week I will be joining, 


and






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