Buttermilk Raisin Tart

Like whey, buttermilk presented problems in trying to find suitable uses for it. When it was unfashionable it was often poured away. Sometimes richer buttermilk could be turned into cheese, and in other cases it found its way into tarts. The recipes for these travelled across with the Pilgrims to America, where 'buttermilk pie' came to epitomise all that was good about American family cooking.
In America, it is served with cranberries or blueberries at room temperature. Cream and creme fraiche are other good accompaniments.
This tart is an amalgam of a number of early recipes. It is simple to make and with no cream it is light and easily digested, and its clean-cut appearance is very inviting.


serves 8
225 g (8 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
a large pinch of salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus a pinch for sprinkling
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
425 ml (3/4 pint) buttermilk
175 g (6 oz) raisins, plumped up by placing them in hot water for a few minutes, then draining and drying them


1. Line a deep 23 cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

3. In a large bowl, stir the sugar, flour, salt and 1 teaspoon nutmeg together. Using a whisk, blend in the eggs. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and beat the whole mixture well so that there is no flour clinging to the bottom of the bowl.

4. Cover the bottom of the pre-baked pastry case with the plumped-up raisins and then cover the raisins with the buttermilk mixture. Sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg over the top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until set.

Serve at room temperature.

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