Around the Counties in 47 Blog Posts – 2/47 Greater Manchester

Coming up with a dish to represent Greater Manchester, my thoughts turn back to my school days and that British classic the Manchester Tart.  The tart made regular appearances in the 1980s for me, featured as it was on my weekly school dinner menu.   I’m guessing it showed up often because a jar of jam, some Bird’s instant custard, and a pastry case were cheap to source and made for a quick and simple dessert to satisfy herds of hungry little faces.

Isn’t it strange that when you’re a child all you want to be is an adult, yet as soon as you are one all you want to do is turn back the clock?  In terms of cuisine, I wasn’t very fond of many dishes I was served as a child.  I labeled stews and rice puddings ‘war food’ – cheap to cook and serve to the masses.  What I craved was adult food like steak or chilli con carne or indulgent chocolate mousse.  As life would have it, my taste buds matured over the years and my opinions about food right along with them.  That’s what brings me back to the Manchester Tart.

The recipe I have created here is a more indulgent version of the classic, which for the first time has led me to make Crème Pâtissière, daunting to begin but actually relatively easy.  Some of you may remember that in your school days a Manchester Tart included a layer of chopped bananas in the base of the pastry.  I have chosen to exclude these mainly because my wife said she’s never had the banana variation and she is from Greater Manchester.  I chose to defer to her in the creation of my Manchester Tart although you can still include the bananas if you prefer them.  You will also notice I made rather than bought the raspberry jam for the tart.  Fortunately, I had a spare 500g of raspberries in the freezer I picked from the garden last summer.  Of course, you can buy the jam from local shops, I just can’t guarantee the same ‘homemade’ flavour.  Whatever little adjustments you may make, I offer up this delectable dish in honour of Manchester county!

Manchester Tart Recipe

Equipment needed for this dish

Baking Beans, greaseproof paper, 25cm loose based flan tin, potato masher, sieve

Ingredients – for the pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g cold butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Ingredients – for the Crème Pâtissière

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 900ml double cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 4 tsp corn flour
  • 100g caster sugar

Ingredients – for the jam

  • 500g raspberries
  • 500g jamming sugar
  • 1/2 lemon – just the juice

Additional Ingredients

  • 50g desiccated coconut

Directions for the pastry

  1. Place the flour, salt and icing sugar into a bowl
  2. Dice the butter and add to the bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour, salt, and sugar until it resembles bread crumbs
  3. Combine in a jug, the water, egg and lemon juice and add to the flour mixture until you form a smooth dough
  4. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes
  5. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180C and grease a 25cm loose based flan tin
  6. Once the pastry has rested roll out on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tin, pricking the pastry with a fork and filling with greaseproof paper and baking beans
  7. Blind bake for 12 minutes and then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 15 minutes
  8. Allow to cool

Directions for the Jam

  1. Sterilise your jam jars and put a small plate in the freezer to chill
  2. Tip half the raspberries into a pan and add the lemon juice
  3. Mash the berries to a pulp over heat with a potato masher
  4. Tip the cooked berries into a sieve over a bowl, and once all of the juice has drained off, firmly work the pulp through the sieve with a spoon until you are left with just the seeds
  5. Tip the juice and pulp back into the whole raspberries.  Add to a pan and heat until it reaches jamming temperature which is 104C.
  6. Remove from the heat and drop a little jam onto the chilled plate
  7. Now push your finger through it – it should wrinkle and look like jam. If it doesn’t, boil for another 2 minutes then test again
  8. Pour into the jars and seal

Directions for the Crème Pâtissière

  1. Combine 500ml double cream and the seeds of 1 vanilla pod in a pan and heat until just before boiling point
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, corn flour, and sugar together
  3. Add only a little heated cream at a time to the egg mixture, whisking throughout until all combined
  4. Return the combined mixture to the pan and whisk until thick which should be just before boiling
  5. Leave to cool for 30 minutes with cling film sitting on top of the mixture to ensure it doesn’t form a skin
  6. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 400ml double cream until it peaks, and combine this with the cooled mixture

Constructing the Tart

  1. Spread a generous amount of your homemade jam across the bottom of the cooled pastry
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 of the desiccated coconut over the jam
  3. Gently fill the pasty case to the top with the Crème Pâtissière filling, ensuring an even layer
  4. Sprinkle the remaining desiccated coconut across the top
  5. Allow to set in the fridge, ideally overnight

And there you have it, my friends.  A beautiful, homemade Manchester Tart. I could not have been more pleased when I recently created this dish.  I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.  Remember, your jam can be store bought, although making your own is rewarding in and of itself.  I encourage you to give it and this recipe a try and let me know how it turns out!

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