Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wedding tart

It’s come to that time in my life when people I know are pairing off and inevitably getting married. The first of my school friends tied the knot this weekend in a beautiful ceremony in the Essex countryside. It rained all morning but the sun came out just as the ceremony ended in some kind of biblical symbol of approval.

Although the prospect of going to several weddings every summer for the next decade does somewhat fill me with dread, I’m happy to report that this weekend’s wedding was good fun. A lot of our friends chipped in with the preparations by making bunting, playing music or baking and the day felt like a real joint effort – although full credit must go to the bride who’s impeccable taste meant that we were surrounded by beautiful things all day long.

One of the unique touches at the wedding was the wedding cake, or cakes. As the bride doesn’t like traditional fruit cake she went for a more unconventional approach and enlisted friends and family to make different cakes so that there would be something for everyone. The result was spectacular. Eight different cakes layered up on stands and surrounded by meadow flowers, the display was mouth watering.

When asked to contribute, I decided to go for a tart rather than a cake as I know many a fella who prefers a pastry-based baked good over a sponge. Going for something tried and tested rather than taking a risk, I went for Jamie Oliver’s Jethro Tart from his cookbook ‘Happy days with the naked chef’. The recipe usually uses pinenuts rather than pecans, but our local Tesco didn’t have any so I adapted the recipe and was very happy with the result:

 Sweet pastry

115gr/4oz butter
100gr/3 1/2oz icing sugar
a pinch of salt
225gr/8oz plain flour
2 egg yolks

I find pastry works best if you make it in a food processor as it doesn’t get to hot from your hands. Cream together the butter, sugar and salt then pulse in the flour and egg yolks.  When the mixture has come together, looking like coarse breadcrumbs gently pat together to form a small ball of dough, adding a little milk or water if it’s too dry.  Wrap with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.

Once the pastry has rested, cut thin slices and place in and around the bottom and sides of your 30cm/12 inch tin, squidging it together to cover the base and sides. Leave to rest in the freezer for about 1 hour.

Tart filling

250gr/9oz pecans
255gr/9oz butter
255gr/9oz caster sugar
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons honey
115gr/4oz plain flour
a pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas 4, and bake the frozen pastry for around 15 minutes until lightly golden.  Reduce the oven temperature to 170C/320F.gas 3.

While the pastry is in the oven, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the pecans, add the eggs one at a time, then fold in the honey, flour and salt.  Spoon into the tart shell and bake for 30-35 minutes.

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