currantly delighted

Firstly a confession about Frangipane. All things almond are viewed with great suspicion in our household, not by me I hasten to add. The mere mention of marzipan, almond croissants and amaretti-style biscuits and you are liable to hear a long list of denunciations, expletives and cries of “you’re trying to kill me!” So I was highly suspicious of Frangipane and when asked what I was making I took a tactical turn and was pretty vague, I waved my floury hands around and used the words “French, fruit, tart and creamyish filling”. Come the evening round at our friends and tucking into the tart after a superb meal all I heard was Ooohs and Aahhs and another slice please. So Sssshhhhh I still haven’t fessed up to using ground almonds………

Red Currants (1)

And now onto the fruity part of today’s post. This time of year it’s hard to convince yourself that those brown twiggy things sitting up to their necks in claggy clay, looking all but dead and lifeless will in a few months’ time be covered with bright green leaves and adorned with ripening berries. That’s what I have to remind myself as I squelch my way up to my allotment. It’s still cold, often rainy and definitely windy but the days are getting lighter and longer my friends, oh yes!

The more I’ve gardened on my allotment and the more I’ve lost to drought, deluge, pest and pestilence the more I have come to appreciate growing fruit. It is relatively simple, easy and yes fruitful….. (sorry?!*). And after an initial outlay you get a great return for your money and little effort; growing fruit really is the busy (and in this case lazy) woman’s allotment banker. The crop that will crop. And keep on cropping for years to come. And for those who are allotmentless I used to grow currant bushes in large pots in the garden – so you don’t need acres of land to savour home-grown fruit.

10 Step Guide to Growing Currants

  1. Buy a twig that labelled as Currant from your nearest Lidl or Aldi for a couple of quid
  2. Take it home and out of the wrapper
  3. Place it in a large pot or dig a hole in the ground
  4. Add a bit of manure (if you have it)
  5. Cover with soil or compost
  6. Water well
  7. If growing in a pot, when the leaves appear make sure it’s watered well
  8. When the fruit starts to appear and swell cover the bush with netting – make sure it’s secured down and no birds can get to the fruit – use pegs, cable ties, clips whatever you have to hand
  9. Wait for the sun to do its magic
  10. Pick the berries and scoff them all at once. Alternatively wash and drain them and freeze in Tupperware boxes.

And dealing with gluts couldn’t be simpler – eat, share, jam or freeze it. So come mid winter and you’re searching the depths of your freezer a tub of shiny red currants winks at you and before you can say “Sacrebleu Groseille!” you have an idea and you’re rolling up your sleeves, dusting the rolling-pin off and denying all knowledge of almonds.

If I had to choose just one of the currants to grow it would be the red ones – I like their sharp sweet tangyness. Perfect partners for a sweet tart and today’s recipe. The original idea for the recipe came from a book a friend was throwing out “A little taste of France”. The sweet pastry is a standard recipe, as is the frangipane. All I did was to half the quantities to fit my new shiny oblong tart tin.

Classic Red Currant French Tartlets (7)

Classic French Red Currant Tartlets or 1 big pie!

Sweet Pastry

  • 170g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75g butter
  • 45g icing sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

To make the sweet pastry

  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well
  • Put the butter into the well and with your fingertips work it into the flour until it is very soft
  • Add the sugar to the butter / flour and mix well
  • Next add the egg and start bringing the butter-flour-sugar mix into a ball of dough, with your hands. Knead it a few times until it is smooth
  • Cover the ball of dough with clingfilm or a plastic bag and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Frangipane

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 115g ground almonds
  • 20g plain flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Beat the butter until very soft, add the icing sugar, ground almonds and flour and mix well.
  • Add the beaten eggs gradually, beating well until fully incorporated
  • Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with cling film and keep in a fridge up to 24hrs

Assembling and cooking the French Fruit Tartlets

  • 250g red currants
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4
  • Grease a tart tin 36 x 12 x 3cm H. (14″ x 4¾” x 1″
  • Take the dough out of its wrapping, dust a worktop or board lightly with flour and gently roll the pastry out to a thickness of 2mm (1/8”).
  • Line the tart tin with the pastry, trimming the edges (or as I did leaving lots of pastry hanging over the edge to be trimmed after cooking)
  • Put the frangipane in a piping bag and pipe into the tin (I think you can just spoon it in and level it off)
  • Place the tin on a baking tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes (still in the tin)
  • Arrange your currants, berries or fruit (your choice) on top of the tart.
  • Gently melt 2 tablespoons of apricot jam with 1 tablespoon of water in a pan, sieve out any lumps and brush over the berries to make them shine.

Classic Red Currant French Tartlets (3)I bet there’s  lots of you who have equally similar cries of “you’re trying to kill me with this (insert food type here ___________ “stories

I’d love to hear them!

————————

Advertisements

53 comments

  • This looks wonderful! It reminds me, too, that I have raspberries and strawberries in the freezer, perfect right now when I am so craving the bright summer flavors! Thank you, Claire!

    • Hi Cindy, oh raspberries and strawberries would definitely work, and I bet would give you some cheer on a wintry day. I hope the weather is clearing up for you x

  • A perfect combination currants and almonds. We’ve just emptied the freezer of the last of the red currants add hey presto 16 jars of red currant jelly.
    They’re easy to grow and when you want new bushes just take some hard wood cuttings and stick them in the ground.
    P.S. Nice to see you back in the blogging circle.

    • Love red currant jelly which reminds me I haven’t made any in a long while. And thanks for the welcome back, it feels great to be back

  • Sounds delicious and looks so pretty too. I think my last frozen redcurrants have all gone, but will have to try this with fresh ones this summer! Although I bet blackberries and raspberries would also be nice. Redcurrants have so much zing though, don’t they. 🙂

    • Hi Cathy, yes raspberries and blackberrie swould work, in fact any fruit – but I likethe contrast of the tartness of recurrants and the sweetness of the filling and pastry. And now I know how easy Frangipane is to make, I’m sure there will be more pies 🙂

  • Oh Claire It is way too hot for berries here. That is where you have it over us. You may not know but a lot of our frozen berries come from Chile and are packed in China. They have all just been recalled – hep A outbreak. You are so lucky to be able to grow your own. BTW Your pie looks so good

    • Hi Glenda, what a scary and sad story – berries grown in Chilie and then shipped elsewhere only for Hep A to intrude. I read an equally scary story about food ingedients and the industry around food preparation. What are the answers?! I feel a blog post coming on……

      In the meantime I hope all is well

  • I love red currants but I’ve never made a tart as lovely as this one.

  • I’m pleased to admit that everyone enjoys almonds at our house, thank goodness. The Red Currant Tart is a stunner! I can’t imagine that there were any leftovers….

  • As I live in the Southern USA it just simply gets too damn hot in the Spring and Summer to grow currants! I am always so envious of my friends who live in Maine and spend their summers there and bring back lots of currant jam…so envious…so they share. I think your dessert is just fantastic and beautiful and I would love a bite right now. Lovely post and very informative!

    • I’m learning through blogging and this post that currants and berries are a cooler climate fruit, but then I guess you have your treats too that I in turn am envious of!

    • Hi there CCU, good to see you 🙂 Sorry about the pun, every now and then this girl just can’t resist – I blame dreadful British TV comedies for all things pun-like

  • Sacrebleu – it’s aubergines and courgettes that get that reaction in our house (again, not from me!). Gorgeous tart (not you missy!) and the house we bought at the end of last year appears to have a gooseberry bush so maybe we could plant a few other berries and see how they do.

    • I’d give berries a go in the garden – just make sure they are netted otherwise the brds will have every last one of them – I’ve forgotten to net them in the past and found out the hard way

  • You can bake and cook for me any time! And I’ll never complain about anything almond. I’ve also just started fruit growing here in zone 10 — citrus for the moment.

    • Evening Kevin, it woul dbe a pleasure! Now growing citrus really apeals to me – I’ve always wanted a lime tree so I coul dhave a slice in my G&T…. you can see where my priorities lie?!

  • That looks delectable! My mom always just made jelly, but I bet I can convince her to put one of these together. Convincing her to share with me, however…

    • I’m sure almonds are great for you, they are liked whole but aparently it’s when they are in things… no I don’t understand that either!

  • I love all things almondy! And I’ve just acquired my first currant canes, so hope they take. I agree that fruit is just the best thing to cultivate – such good returns as long as the birds don’t get there first.

    • hi Helen, I hope you get a great crop from your new canes, I think they take a little while to settle in so that by the 2nd year you get super crops, and as you say – net, net, net!

      • Thank you, Claire. They are in a pot so far and I’m not expecting anything this year. But next year will be exciting 🙂

  • My friend’s husband doesn’t eat any nuts or onions that he can see. Anything obliterated in cooking or baking is fair game. He inhaled 5 Macarons in one sitting.
    Currants are such a European delight, I hardly ever see them at our big grocery stores. This dessert looks like a beautiful combination of tangy and sweet.

    • Inhaling Macarons sounds about right – they are leathally delicious!
      I don’t think I’d really realised how much currants are a northern/cooler climate crop. But I bet the tart works with all kinds of fruit – from kiwi fruit to appricots…..

  • Almost too pretty to eat. Almost! I’d have gobbled up my fair share, what a delightful looking sweet treat. I’m all about almonds, so I’d really suffer living with others who couldn’t bear them, but my children are happy to make up for that with many other foodstuffs. The list of things my children will complain about is too long to share here, however 🙂 This post has convinced me to add more currants in our garden plans (we ‘currently’ have just one red currant bush).

    • Almost 🙂
      I’ve been looking through the gardening catalogues (a dangerous occupation) and have been eyeing up some different fruit to grow, but I’m better off waiting until autumn for planting, I’m also thinking about more fruit trees too, but they have to be dwarf root stock on the allotments so I have to choose carefully

  • I’m probably not going to grow fruit, but I love discovering berries growing wild and helping myself to their bounty.

  • This looks dreamy, Claire! It’s beautiful, has wonderful ingredients and is quite impressive! I don’t know if we can grow currants in our climate. I think probably not, since I’ve not had any exposure to them, but now I’m curious! I do love anything with almonds…I’ll have to see see what I can adapt if currants aren’t available. I’m so glad to hear your growing season is getting longer and I hope you’ll be able to share more about your allotment. I always enjoy! 🙂

    • I’m definitely getting th epicture that currants and berrie slike our cooler northern climate. I think this tart would work with any fruit – soft fruits like strawberries or maybe kiwi fruit of apricots…… now I’ve made it I know I’ll be trying some different variations
      and guess what we’ve had some sunny and warm days here, woo hoo!!

  • I am another one in the anti-almond camp. My grandparents were Danish and there were many traditional treats that I wouldn’t go anywhere near. But if this were made just with regular ground almonds (vs almond paste), I think I would try that. A beautiful tart either way.

    I am also resolved to grow more fruit. After our pear trees started producing and our raspberry patch took off, it was sooo exciting (except when something ate my pears almost overnight last year). Now I’m anxious for spring!

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s