Friday, 11 January 2013

Baked Berry and Ricotta Tart

Here is a little recipe that appeared in my brain one sleepless night. I admit I'm not a big cheese fan, so my repertoire is somewhat limited but this combination of soft sweet ricotta, sharp fruity berries and crisp biscuity pastry is definitely the real deal. As visually stunning as it is delicious you'd think it would be a proper palava to make, but I kid you not it is so easy. I promise you'll have as much fun making it as eating it!

Prep time: 30 Minutes (Plus some chilling time for the pastry)
Baking time: 77 Minutes (in total)
For the pastry
200g Plain Flour
100g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
25g Icing Sugar
1 Medium Egg Yolk
2tsp Cold Water

For the filling
500g Ricotta (Strained of any liquid)
150g Caster Sugar
The seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod
3 Medium Eggs plus 2 Yolks
500g Mixed Berries (I used raspberries, blueberries and blackberries)

Off we go! In a large bowl rub together the flour and butter, until it resembles breadcrumbs then with a wooden spoon stir in the icing sugar. Make a well in the middle, then tip in the egg yolk and water. Bring the sides of the well in towards the middle, give it a brief mix with your wooden spoon, then get your hands in there and work together to a dough. You can do all this in a food processor if you like, but I like getting my hands dirty! Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in a cold place to firm up for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and lightly grease a 20cm round sandwich cake tin. Unwrap the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a big circle, big enough to fill the tin. Don't be tempted to use too much flour, or it'll dry out the the pastry. Carefully lay the pastry into the tin, gently pressing to the edges and making sure it overlaps the edge by about half a centimetre (as it'll shrink during baking). If the pastry breaks or cracks don't fret, as you can use any left over pastry from the edges to repair. You honestly won't notice after it has baked! Line the tart with some baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the beans, return to the oven for 2 minutes to dry the pastry out, then remove and turn the oven down to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

When the pastry is done you can start the filling, which is sooooooo easy! In a fresh bowl mix together the cheese, sugar and vanilla seeds. Beat in the eggs, then fold through the berries. It doesn't matter if some of the soft berries break up, in fact it's a good thing! Spoon the berries into the pastry shell and top up with any of the leftover cheese mixture. You may have a little left over, but I say it's always better to have too much than not enough! Place back into the oven for 45 minutes, which will set the mixture, then turn up again to
190C/375F/Gas 5 and bake for a further 15 minutes, just until the top is starting to catch and turn brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, then carefully remove, slice and serve. You're all done. Well done you!

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