Blackberries were poor this year. smaller, harder, less succulent, less sweet, less black. Just like every other crop in Ireland this disappointing year. Two weeks ago, we took to the hedgerows on a bright, sunny day and picked our fill. There were rose hips too, sloes and elderberries. Little red ‘blackberries’ which had failed to mature and ripen for want of warmth and sunshine were stunted on the brambles. No doubt the birds will eat them when they’re hungry enough. Our reward was a blackberry and apple crumble that evening, and I froze the rest in 1 lb bags.
A few days later, builders arrived to do some long overdue work at home. It became clear from the very beginning that they were neat, tidy, punctual and did what they said they’d do. Their long working day and high standards put me faoi geasa ( under a kind of moral obligation) so I cooked dinner for them each day. When they informed me that they intended to work Saturday and Monday of the bank holiday weekend, I changed my plans and counted my blessings. They would be finished quicker, and we’d all be delighted. So for dessert on Saturday, I made them a blackberry and apple tart.
Having tasted Linzertorte in Vienna, I figured that these men, being Polish, might be partial to a hazelnut crust on their tart, and indeed they were.
Blackberry and Apple Tart with a Hazelnut Crust
For the crust
- 6 ozs /175g plain flour
- 3 ozs/75g ground hazelnuts (sold ready-ground in Lidl)
- 2 ozs/50g icing sugar
- finely zested rind of one lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 ozs/110g butter at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks
For the filling
- 1 lb blackberries
- 2 bramley apples, peeled and sliced
- 2 ozs sugar
One round, fluted tart tin with a removable base, measuring 9 inches or 23 cm.
- Put all dry ingredients for pastry crust in a food processor and blitz until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and blitz again. If it needs a little more moisture to make it come together, add a tablespoon of cold water.
- Roll into a ball, cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
- Divide into 2/3 and 1/3 quantities. Roll out the 2/3 piece to line base and sides of a tart tin. Roll the 1/3 piece out flat and cut into strips for lattice work.
- Put blackberries, apples and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat slowly until bubbling, when all the sugar is dissolved and the apples turned to pulp.
- Spoon the fruit filling into the tart crust.
- Lay the lattice strips across the fruit filling
- Place on a hot baking sheet or oven tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 190C for 30-35 minutes.
I reckon this tart would be good with frozen berries, with cranberries or as the original Linzertorte, with a redcurrant jelly filling. Serve it hot or cold, with cream, crème fraîche, custard or whatever you fancy.
And you can follow it, as we did when they finished this evening, with a toast, as we banished the ghosts of builders of the past, and drank the health of noble and skilled builders of today. A win/win scenario all round.