Gypsy Tart Reminiscences

With Chef Robert Thompson 

Robert Thompson recalls the Gypsy Tart of his youth. A school dinner staple, he has reinvented it and elevated it to a pudding that we’d all be delighted to have on our New Year table with a few easy updates.

Gypsy Tart is a tart of pastry and two ingredients and as Robert says is ‘foolproof’. The filling is a luscious mousse of butterscotch muscovado sugar and evaporated milk – a favourite of the school dinner cook, contrasting with cristp buttery pastry. “We used to have it at school and I’m sure it wasn’t home-made. The pastry was thick and the filling was exceptionally sweet but I’ve added icing sugar instead of caster sugar to the pastry to crisp it up. The secret is in the whisking of the filling, which takes fifteen minutes in an electric mixer and baking pastry until it’s really cooked through”.

Ingredients

500g Plain flour
175g Icing sugar
250 soft butter
2Whole eggs
Egg yolks

1 Tin evaporated milk
340g Dark muscovado sugar

Using a mixer or a food processor, combine the flour, butter, icing sugar, eggs and yolks until the mixture just comes together. Remove from the machine and very lightly knead to make sure that the pastry is evenly mixed. Chill for 1 hour to rest.
Roll out pastry and line your greased and floured tart ring ensuring that all the sides are even with no gaps before blind baking at 185°C until the pastry is crisp.
Using the whisk attachment, whip the evaporated milk and sugar together for 15 minutes at high speen – the mixture will be thick when it’s ready.
Pour into the pastry case and return to the oven at 120°C for 10 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Serve with fig or raspberry sorbet or crème fraiche.

Tips:

-Use cling film to line the pastry case as a baking paper will tear the pastry when you take it out of the oven – and no it wont melt!

-The pastry will make enough for more than one tart. Flatten the rest into discs and freeze – they’ll take no time at all to defrost is they’re not rolled into balls.

-For a chocolate pastry variation, swap 50g of flour for 50g of cocoa powder.

-Use a silicone mat on a baking tray and a tart ring – this makes it far easier to remove the pastry case.

-Feed the pastry right into all of the pastry ring and make sure the pastry is higher than the edge of the ring as it will shrink.

-Instead oof using baking beans to bake blind, line the case with cling film and use a mixture of split peas and rice to fill the case right to the top – you can put them into a jar and save to use again.

-The filling, like a meringue, will ‘weep’ sugar if left for too long so make on the day you plan to eat the tart.