In the summer, we can look forward to a season bursting with fruits ripening at different intervals. What better way to celebrate this bounty than with a classic tart? Enjoy rhubarb (technically a vegetable!) in May or June, cherry in July, plum in August and apple in September.
To make the most of fruits in season check the helpful guides from Eat Seasonably and What’s in Season. Celebrate fruits at their very best, full of flavour and nutrients and produced in harmony with the environment.
- To achieve the best results when making pastry, everything needs to be as cool as possible, including your kitchen. You can even pre-chill your flour and the bowl you’ll be using!
- Sieve the flour and sugar into the bowl and add the cubes of vegan margarine. Rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips, working quickly and with a light touch to avoid the fat melting, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Check for any remaining lumps of margarine by shaking the bowl to bring them to the surface.
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the chilled water, a little at a time. Lightly work the mixture to form a ball, adding a sprinkle of flour if the mixture is too wet, or a touch more water if it’s too dry.
- Allow the pastry to ‘rest’ in the fridge for 20-30 minutes prior to using it.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, then line a 9” greased flan tin and return to the fridge for a further 30 minutes to chill, as this should help prevent the pastry from shrinking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5.
- Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ (partially baking pastry before adding a wet filling, to avoid making it soggy). Prick over with a fork, line with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans, dried pulses or uncooked rice.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry starts to become a light golden brown. Remove the paper and beans, then return to the oven for a couple of minutes. Remove the pastry case from the oven and allow to cool.
- In the meantime make the fruit filling. Wash and prepare the fruit by either trimming the rhubarb, stoning the cherries or plums or coring the apples. Reserve the most attractive fruits for decorating the top.
- Cut the remainder into small pieces and simmer in a pan over a gentle heat with the margarine, sugar or syrup, a splash of water and the optional lemon juice and cinnamon until soft and pulpy. In the unlikely event that the mixture is far too wet, simply remove any excess juice and thicken the fruit pulp with a little cornflour or tapioca flour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then use to cover the base of the pastry case.
- Cut the reserved fruit accordingly – the rhubarb into pieces, the cherries and plums into halves and the apples into slices – and arrange neatly on top. If necessary, brush the apple slices with a little lemon juice to prevent them from browning. They look great laid in concentric circles, each slice overlapping the last! If you like, you can also brush the fruit with a little melted vegan margarine and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. If you want to brown the edges of the fruit, just flash the tart under a hot grill.
- For a really quick and easy glaze, brush the tart over with the warmed, sieved apricot preserve.
- Serve the tart warm or at room temperature. For an extra finishing touch, lightly dust with icing sugar and serve with plain soya yogurt which has been strained and flavoured with a little vanilla and cardamom.
- Alternatively, you could indulge in some delicious Booja Booja ‘icecream’ which is based on cashew nuts and agave nectar. The ‘Keep Smiling Vanilla M’Gorilla’ would make a great accompaniment, or maybe the ‘Pompompous Maple Pecan’ or ‘Coconut Hullabaloo’!