Retro Recipe Challenge - Ballymaloe Fruit Tarts




Although I was prepared to use wheat for my retro recipe challenge entry, I hoped that I would find something retro that also answered my need for a gluten free treat. Unfortunately most of my pre 1980 recipe books were based almost entirely on flour, lard and raspberry jam with pips carved from wood shavings, by women with their hair permanently in curlers and a lipstick stained cigarette tucked in the corner of their mouths.

So I turned to Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David for something made with real ingredients. Jane's, 'English Food' (published in 1974) came up trumps with this recipe for Ballymaloe Fruit Tarts - so called because the original recipe originates from Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House near Cork in Ireland. This being the town of my forefathers I was instantly drawn to look further. Jane said in her preamble that you had to order these tarts at the beginning of your meal to ensure that they were not already sold out by the time you reached the desert course. She suggests topping them with any fruit that is in season - gaining the recipe another big tick in my book. So I chose raspberries from Hereford and erm....pomegranates because frankly I'm obsessed by these exotic blushing crowned fruits and I had one handy.

The formula is simple, almond pastry base, dollop of cream and as much fruit as you can cram on top without making the whole thing unwieldy. I used fairy cake tins for mine and they didn't really spread out that much, so I was left with the flat scone type shape you can see above. I think a muffin tin might yield better results. I also used palm sugar, because I try to avoid using refined sugar where possible and this doesn't behave in exactly the same way as the refined stuff.

I didn't sweeten the cream because, well - it's going with a sweet base and has sweet fruit on top, you need some contrast here no? I give the original recipe below - use whichever sugar you prefer. Jane instructs you not to be tempted into grinding your own almonds, no matter how much you want to - you need the flouriness of commercially ground almonds here.

Even with these changes and caveats, they were delicious! The base was almondy and cakey, with a satisfying marzipan chewiness set off by the cool unctuous cream and tart berries on top.

Ballymaloe Fruit Tarts

4oz Ready Ground Almonds
4oz Caster Sugar
4oz Lightly Salted Butter

Whipped Double Cream (I suggest around 300-350ml)
Seasonal Fruit - prepared accordingly

icing sugar to dust if you like that sort of thing

Preheat the oven to mark 4, 180C or 350F. Set out 20 small tart tins (or use muffin tins).

Mix almonds, sugar and butter to a dough in a processor - or by hand. Put a teaspoon into each of the tins without spreading them. Bake for about 10 mins until you have 20 golden saucers rimmed with slightly with brown - keep an eye on them towards the end. Cool slightly in the tins and then remove to a rack before they stick.

Just before serving, whip the cream - adding sugar if the fruit is tart. Put a blob or pipe a rosette onto each tartlet and arrange the fruit on top.

Et Voila........