Saturday, 12 May 2012

Birthday Surprises and Raspberry Tarts

It was my thirtieth birthday last week.

(If I was in the US I could now legally become a Senator [Hurrah! I'd implement my policy of free cakes for all!])

I was surprised by A with a lovely, lovely week long holiday. I had absolutely no idea where we were going and had spent the last three months trying to wheedle the destination out of an increasingly despairing A. I'm not terribly good at surprises you see.

But A remained resolutely watertight and by the time we got to the airport I still hadn't the foggiest.

And I was very happily surprised when A explained:

'We're off for a couple of days to Madrid then we fly to Sardinia'

I replied exclaiming 'Wow! That'll be brilliant!', followed rather rapidly with 'Erm... Where exactly IS Sardinia?!'

We had a quick geography lesson ('There's a big sea called the Mediterranean, which is bordered by France, you know where they make Croissants? And Italy, where they make those lush cannolis you like? And Spain, where we eat Tapas? And Sardinia is right in the middle')

Look at this Neapolitan ice cream style building in Madrid. And yes, I generally do compare most constructions to sweet treats.

The bounty advert style beach in Sardinia where many a happy hour was spent lazily discussing dilemmas such as 'If you could only have one type of cake for the rest of your life which would you choose?'. It is fair to say I not only started this particular topic of conversation but also had a lot to contribute to it.

Still discussing it now to be honest.

It was a brilliant week followed by a brilliant bank holiday with all family in the Brecon Beacons.

Anyways, to the cake. Or to be exact the raspberry tarts. These were A's request for his birthday way back in March. And here's how I made 'em.

Raspberry Tarts

For the pastry:
250g plain flour
125g butter
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
Zest of half a lemon

For the creamy bit:
400ml whole milk
5 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
15g plain flour
2tsps cornflour

Plus a punnet of raspberries and icing sugar to finish

1. To make the pastry: Sift the flour into a large bowl. Coarsely grate the butter into the bowl. Add the zest and icing sugar and using your hands, bring the dough together, adding a few drops of water if necessary to bind. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for one hour
2. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Take the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface, to roughly 4-5mm thick. Line the base and sides of a 22cm tart tin (or four small tart tins). Line the pastry case(s) with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool
3. To make the creamy bit, aka the creme patisserie: In a bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until the mixture doubles in size and is pale in colour and set aside. Heat the milk over a gentle heat, ensuring it doesn't boil. Pour the warm (not boiling) milk over the sugar and egg mixture, add the flours and gently mix together. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat once again, whisking continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. 
4. Once the creme patisserie is cooled, spoon into the pastry cases and decorate with raspberries, finishing with a dusting of icing sugar

Baker's notes..
  • I choose to make a relatively simple straightforward pastry, although an almond pastry would be a lovely accompaniment
  • This is best constructed no more than an hour before serving
  • And summer fruit can be used to decorate- strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, redcurrent. Ohh, the possibilities!
  • I'm entering this into this month's One Ingredient challenge hosted this month by Laura from How to Cook Good Food. The theme is lemons and I appreciate it is a little cheeky entering these, as they contain just a minute amount of lemon, but Laura has kindly welcomed them!


  1. Raspberry tart is one of my favourite things about going to France. The patisseries seem to overflow with all manner of wonderful fruit tarts and yours look just like them!
    I am so pleased you entered them into #oneingredient. As far as I am concerned, even if the recipe contains the lemon pith or seeds it is accepted!! x

  2. Happy belated birthday!! Sounds like you had a fab time - I love (good) surprises! I also reference most things to food :) Love the look of these raspberry tarts too - something I've never made before but is on the to bake list.

  3. Happy 30th birthday and what a great surprise! The tarts look lovely!

  4. Happy birthday Kate! What an absolutely wonderful surprise... I've never been to Sardinia but would absolutely love to go. Also love that you compared that building to ice cream - you're 100% on my wavelength! :-)

  5. Happy birthday - what a lovely surprise! YOur tarts are beautiful too
    I am now stressed and pondering what my "forever cake" would be!!!

  6. Wow, what a fabulous surprise!!! I love to go to would be nice to escape the rain too! Your tarts look lovely, I think I have a very similar recipe booked marked from BBC GoodFood which I've been itching to make!!

  7. Happy belated birthday! All the cool kids are turning 30 this year - mine was a few weeks ago ;) What a lovely birthday surprise you had, looking at those yummy tarts it was very much deserved!

  8. Happy Birthday Kate! What a fantastic birthday surprise. Your tarts look delicious. That reminds me that I still need to buy some mini tart cases! I always pass by them in Tesco (I tend to hover around the cook/bakeware aisle) but never seem to pick them up.

    A "forever cake".... arrgghh! That's so difficult. I'd probably go for the classic victoria sponge. I like its freshness and simplicity.

  9. Happy Birthday!!! I'm still not quite sure where Sardinia is. Do they have sardines? Anyways the beach looks spectacular! Like your tarts! Gotta love em tarts!

  10. Happy Birthday Kate. What a lovely partner to give you such a great birthday treat! It looks do your tarts...I love creme patisserie

  11. gorgeous tarts but my eye is on that beach - what an amazing present - happy birthday - I really wish you were a senator :=)

  12. happy birthday! beautiful tarts. And a lovely birthday celebration you have had!
    I've nominated you for a fun blog award

  13. Happy Birthday!! gorgeous, gorgeous tarts!! and WOW what a wonderful vacation!!!! I've always wanted to go to Sardinia - lucky you and thanks for sharing these fabulous pictures!
    mary x

  14. I miss the beach and how I love mini tarts. Thank you for the photos and recipe.

  15. You know what? Much as these tarts look desperately appealing, I think I might just swap A's birthday treat for yours. What a fabulous birthday present. Glad you had such a great time discussing cake ;-)

  16. Happy Belated Birthday Kate and WOW! What a great birthday surprise too! OH yes, PASS all of those tarts over, they look FABULOUS!

  17. Lovely looking tarts, and a belated Happy Birthday to you! Looks like you had a wonderful holiday too.


Thank you very much for your comment- I appreciate every single one of them!