Sunday, March 1, 2015

Scottish Border Tart

A number of years ago I visited the quaint town of Solvang, California and, in the shop "Tartan-n-Things", I purchased a book titled Scottish Fare.  It is charming because it is filled with recipes with their Scottish names (like "Roastit Bubbly-Jock" and "Cullen Skink") along with some history, culture, and interesting facts about Scotland.

Published in 1983 by Norma and Gordon Latimer
I was in a dessert mood and the description of the Border Tart looked very appealing.

Border Tart  (page 62)

For the pastry:
1 cup plain flour
2 1/2 ounces butter
1 ounce sugar
1 egg yolk

For the filling:
2 ounces butter
2 ounces sugar
2 ounces self-rising flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1/2 ounce flaked almonds
1 ounce ground almonds

(Note that the measurements are mostly by weight so get out your kitchen scale!)

I love my ceramic salt cellar!
Make up the pastry and roll out on floured board to line an 8 inch flan ring.  Keep the scraps and roll out to make strips for the lattice design on top of the tart.

To make the filling beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture becomes creamy.  Add the sifted flour and ground almonds. ** (See notes below.)  Spread a layer of jam over the bottom of the pastry and then add the filling.  Arrange a lattice design of pastry strips on top.  Cover with the flaked almonds.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 30 minutes.  15 minutes before the tart is cooked remove from oven and sprinkle over a layer of confectioner's sugar.  Return to oven.  Serve with fresh cream.

My Notes

**The recipe does not specify when to add the eggs to the filling.  I didn't notice this until after the tart was in the oven!  I would add them with the flour and almonds.

For the pastry, I mixed the flour and sugar, cut in the cold butter until the mixture looked crumbly, then added in the egg yolk.  Then I let the dough sit covered in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to give the flour a chance to absorb the moisture.  It rolled out well.

It took three heaping tablespoons of raspberry jam to make an acceptable layer on the pastry.

Instead of self-rising flour, I mixed 3/4 teaspoon baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon salt then added enough all-purpose flour to make the mix weigh 2 ounces.   Then I blended it all together well.

Does this filling look dry to you?
My pan was a 7 inches by 10 inches rectangle and so it took the entire batch of pastry to cover it. That meant no lattice design on it, so I added extra flaked (actually toasted and slivered) almonds and it looked great.

I wasn't sure how thick a layer of confectioner's sugar to make so I kept it thin.

I took the pan out of the oven after 25 minutes of cooking as the crust was getting very brown.  I think I should have reduced the temperature to 325 degrees F since my pan was dark.

Still looks pretty.
The Verdict

I let the tart cool completely before tasting it.  I was concerned that the filling would be awful since it didn't have the eggs and it did look pretty dry when I spread it on top of the jam.  However I held out hope it would still taste good because the filling without eggs is very similar to a shortbread.

And yes, it did taste good!  It was a bit dry so I should have pulled it out of the oven sooner or baked it at a lower temperature.  But the flavor was lovely -- crunchy and nutty and not too sweet.  The raspberry jam was an excellent tart counterpoint to the more subtle crust and filling.

A very closeup cut-away view
Overall it was thin and that was just right.  My guest taster thought it especially tasty with a cup of coffee and I liked it with cold milk.  We did not put any cream on it.

So despite the lack of eggs in the filling, it was a success!

I would like to try it again with the eggs in the filling, just to see how much more they contribute to it.  I'll save that for the next post.

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