Spiced Medlar Tart with Walnut Pastry
The pleasantly astringent flavour of this autumnal tart will have your friends guessing. Make sure the medlars are well bletted (see Remarkable Medlars) – the flesh should be dark orangey-brown and very soft.
for the pastry:
The recipe looks long but can easily be broken down into manageable parts. For example, you can deal with the pastry the day before. You can also make the filling in advance and keep it in the fridge.
shelled walnuts 55g
plain flour 150g
caster sugar 55g
salt a pinch
butter 75g, chilled and diced
egg yolks 2, lightly beaten
cold water 1½ – 2 tbsp
for the filling:
bletted medlars 850g
eggs 3, lightly beaten
single cream 150ml
caster sugar 75g
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
ground ginger ½ tsp
nutmeg ¼ tsp, freshly grated
salt ¼ tsp
lemon juice 1 tbsp
walnuts small handful roughly chopped, to decorate
icing sugar sieved, to decorate
whipped cream to serve
1) To make the pastry, first finely grind the walnuts using a food processor or Nutribullet. Next, sift the flour into a bowl, then mix in the sugar, ground walnuts and salt. Rub in the diced butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolks and water, and lightly mix to a dough. Roll into a ball, then flatten to form a thick disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper (not cling film) and chill for 30 minutes.
2) Lightly grease the base and sides of a fluted shallow 23cm tart tin with a removable base. Make sure the sides are well lubricated. Roll the pastry disc thinly into a circle and carefully lift it into the tin. Press it well into the sides with the edge of your index finger. Trim the top with a sharp knife and use the off-cuts to reinforce any weak areas. Chill for 30 minutes.
3) Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 6. Prick the pastry base with a fork and line with foil and baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
4) Meanwhile, slice the medlars in half horizontally. Scrape out the flesh, discarding the seeds. Push through a coarse sieve, pressing hard with the back of a wooden spoon. Scrupulously scrape the outside of the sieve to remove every bit of flesh. You will need about 350g.
5) Set the oven temperature to 180°C/gas 5. Put the flesh in a blender with the eggs and cream. Combine the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl. Add this to the medlar mixture along with the lemon juice, then whizz to a smooth purée.
6) Pour the purée into the pastry case. Bake for 45–50 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through, until a knife tip inserted in the centre comes out clean.
7) Leave to cool then sprinkle with chopped walnuts followed by a dusting of icing sugar.
Recipe © Christine McFadden, November 2022