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Harlequin Tart

The tradition of making colourful tarts dates back to the very beginnings of pastry-making when colour was used at every opportunity, even though no jam was available. In the seventeenth century, Robert May described in his book The Accomplished Cook how to make 'the several colours of tarts'. He advocated using different fruits and then boiling them for some time, often with white wine and sugar. To enhance the different colours he suggested adding others so, for example, green codling apples would be boiled together with spinach, giving a thick, sticky and extremely tasty green 'tart stuff'. This could then be placed alongside 'black tart stuff' (prunes), orange (apricots) and red (raspberries).
Jam as we know it began to be produced in massive quantities in the nineteenth century, when it was made using cheap fruit and vegetable pulp to serve up with bread as a main food for the poor.
This is a tart to please children and all those with memories of school tarts and home-made jam tarts, using up the pastry that might otherwise have been thrown away.

ingredients

serves 6-8
225g (8 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
beaten egg, to glaze
2 heaped tablespoons of four of the following jams:
dark cherry, blackcurrant or blackberry; apricot or marmalade; strawberry, raspberry or red cherry; gooseberry, greengage or lemon curd

method

1. Roll out 175g (6 oz) pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a shallow 23cm (9 in) tart tin.

2. Pre-bake or bake blind. Wrap and chill the remaining pastry. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

3. When you are ready to make the tart, take out the uncooked pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut it into 2 lattice strips, slightly longer than the diameter of the tart tin. Cut off the ends and brush the strips with beaten egg.

4. Place the strips over the pre-baked pastry case to cross in the centre so as to produce 4 triangular sections. Press the edges to seal. Make sure the lattice strips are thick and deep enough so that jam cannot run from one section to another. You may also like to decorate them, using the back of a knife blade.

5. Fill the empty triangles with the jams of your choice. Bake the tart in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the lattice strips are gently browned and the jams are bubbling nicely. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool.

6. Serve hot, warm or cold with fresh custard.

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