In many tarts and pies using fresh fruit or dried fruit, it was common to make a hole in the lid towards the end of the cooking. A cream custard made from egg and cream was then poured in through this hole and allowed to blend with the fruit and juices for a few minutes as the tart was placed once more in the oven. The result was a delightfully rich and irresistible swirly mix of fruit, juices, custard and pastry. It would almost certainly have been cooked in puff pastry but sweet shortcrust pastry is as nice, I think, and has certain practical advantages.
serves 6 - 8
400 g (14 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry, made with added vanilla essence if you wish
675 g (1 1/2 lb) fresh, large raspberries
175 g (6 oz) caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg white
425 ml (3/4 pint) double cream
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon kirsch or framboise (optional)
1. Roll out 225 g (8 oz) pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin.
2. Pre-bake or bake blind. Wrap and chill the remaining pastry and pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.
3. Tumble the raspberries into the pre-baked pastry case and cover with 175 g (6 oz) sugar. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid, place over the raspberries and seal the edges. It will seem a bit like the Dome inside with lots of empty space.
4. Brush the pastry lid with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a pan until scalding, then pour it slowly on to the egg yolks in an oven-proof bowl, whisking all the time. Add the kirsch or framboise, if using.
6. Remove the tart from the oven and make a hole in the centre of the lid. Using a funnel, pour the yolks and cream mixture into the tart, being very careful not to be too impatient. Allow time for it to mingle with the raspberries.
7. Return the tart to the oven for 10 minutes, to allow it time to heat right through, thicken and soak up the raspberry juices.
8. Serve hot or cold, on its own.
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