As Grigson says in her entry for this recipe – “in no way are these English”. Seeing as they’re obviously Irish; a recipe from a lady called Myrtle Allen who lived/lives in Cork (I wonder if she’s related to Rachel Allen?), but came up with it in France, I’d be inclined to agree. However, as you’ll see if you make them, they seem quintessentially English – the whipped cream, the chewy ground almond base and, most importantly, the use of seasonal fruit. One fruit on my seasonal list for May is rhubarb. However, there’s no rhubarb recipe in the book, at least not specifically rhubarb. This seemed like the only opportunity to use it. You can of course use any fruit: “During the first part of the year, top them with chunks of lightly cooked pink rhubarb, next come gooseberries, then the wild possibilities of the full summer…”.
FYI1: If like me, you love rhubarb, don’t make a habit of eating too much of the green rhubarb as it causes kidney and bladder stones due to the oxalate contained in the green areas – it dissolves in the blood no problems but in large amounts precipitates once it’s been filtered by the kidneys.
FYI2: All of the pink forced rhubarb in Britain comes from West Yorkshire - the rhubarb triangle. It’s a triangle because all farms are located within the triangle that Leeds (my home town), Branford and Wakefield make up. Read about it here.
This is a very easy recipe; summery and light, just right to finish off the skate salad I had made. For the base you need ground almonds, caster sugar and lightly salted butter all in equal amounts. Griggers says 4 ounces of each, but I went for 2 ounces of each seeing as there was just me and Butters to feed. This made 12 little tarts.
Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Cream together the butter, sugar and almonds and place teaspoonfuls of the mixture into a small tart tin. Bake for 10 minutes, maybe more, maybe less; what happens is magical – the blobs of mixture spread out to form perfect little tart bases that are cooked once they are rimmed with golden brown. Take them out of the tins when they’ve cooled a little bit with a butter knife or a teaspoon and allow to cool and harden on a wire rack. Don’t leave them in there too long or they’ll stick to the tins. Now whisk some cream, and a little sugar if you like, and place a teaspoon of it in the tart case and some of the fruit on top. (For the rhubarb, I stewed it lightly with some sugar and a vanilla pod.)
#142 Ballymaloe Fruit Tarts – 7.5/10. Really simple and delicious. The base is chewy and the topping, light. Even if you don’t bake these sorts of things, have a go at these – you get a lot of return for little effort.