Thursday, 10 January 2013

Sweet Tarts for Afternoon Tea

Anyone who has ever had anything to do with agriculture in general knows that farm labour functions on its stomach. Nothing can be better than a hearty meal and a cup of tea after a few hours of burning sun, dusty nor west wind and general hard slog. 

Yesterday out of the blue we got the SOS from mother - she was sick and the shearers were crutching lambs at the farm for the day. For those that are not farm raised, crutching is, in the words of Little Miss 3, "trimming the wool off the lamb's bottoms." It was all hands on deck helping in the yards with keeping the sheep up and no one available to cook the meals. So in the car and off we went. LM3 was stoked with a surprise visit to Nana and Poppa's house.

With no time to spare and morning tea scheduled for 9.30am, a quick stop in at Darfield Bakery and Cafe supplied the morning tea. The food was very good indeed; the Afghan's actually tasted like homemade and the staff were very obliging in finding enough cold savouries for us. Another half hour in the car and we were there. While LM3 and I attended to the garden, chickens and ducks, The Chef cooked a lunch of vegetable soup, roast pork with new potatoes and apple and berry pie. With lunch out of the way it was my turn to come up with a nice afternoon tea.

Keen to use some of the fruit from the garden, as well as making an indulgent treat, I decided on using my Walnut Sweet Pastry as a base for a couple of different tarts.

Make the walnut pastry and leave to chill. Set the oven to 190 deg. C.

For the Gooseberry tarts: I washed, topped, tailed and sliced in half approximately 1 cup of gooseberries. Mix with 1 tablespoon of cornflour and 1/3 cup of sugar. 

For the Caramel tarts: Combine 60g butter, 1 can of condensed milk and 1 tablespoon of golden syrup in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture starts to thicken. It needs to be stirred constantly or it will catch on the bottom and burn. Set aside while rolling the pastry.

Roll the pastry out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until about 4mm thick. Cut into circles, I used a fluted cutter, but a simple jar will do the same job. Place each one into the bottom of a muffin or tart pan. The mixture is quite delicate and needs to be handled gently, especially on a hot day. Press a little piece of cooking foil into each tart case and bake blind for 6-8 minutes. Take from the oven and remove the foil.

Fill half the tarts with the gooseberry mixture and the other half with the caramel. I popped a chocolate melt on top of some of the caramel ones. Don't overfill.

Bake for a further 8 minutes. The filling should have bubbled. Be careful, as you can see, a couple of extra minutes can leave them over baked! Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before attempting to remove by easing out with a knife. 

I got short of time and had to leave the tarts in their tin to take up the hill to the wool shed. Everyone was happy with their afternoon tea, Nana was feeling better after a day in bed and LM3 had a lovely afternoon inspecting the livestock.  

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