Cherry and Marzipan Tart

Here’s a delicious tart that will impress your guests, visually first , then even more so when they eat a slice. The work and time load is eased considerably by using tinned cherries. The recipe includes home made sweet pastry, which can be a bit of a challenge, but even that can be replaced with shop bought to make it even easier and quicker.

Makes: About 10 slices

Time: Pastry 20 min + chilling. Pie 40 min prep + around 45 min baking

Level: Mostly easy, but the sweet pastry needs careful handling

Need: A 20cm/8” loose bottomed pie tin

This isn’t quite a normal recipe; I’m going begin it as a story, telling you how I tried to follow a recipe and had to do a lot of adapting along the way. (NB For adapting, read panicking) I’d love to have photographed the proceedings, but I was far too busy rescuing my bake along the way.

I started with a recipe from a normally wonderful little book, which I’d better not name. First of all was the pastry ingredient list:

  • 140g/5oz plain flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
  • 55g/2oz unsalted butter
  • ½ egg, beaten

This was supposed to line the tart tin and leave enough pastry for a lattice top, which I really fancied doing. No way! Difficult though it was, I spread the chilled pastry out really thinly and inverted it on the cling film into the tin then gently worked it up the sides using floured hands.

Then came the first moment of slight panic – not enough pastry. Answer: I quickly threw together another half-batch, with no time to chill it in the fridge. It did the job.

The recipe made no mention of blind baking, but I knew the tinned plums would have lots of syrup, so I blind baked the pastry, which was a good move. Bonus point to me.

Being a bit of a belt and braces baker I considered brushing melted white chocolate over the pastry or egg white in order to lessen even more the risk of a soggy bottom. Instead I went for an easier option – a sprinkling of semolina. A good move – another bonus point to me.

But I still didn’t have enough pastry for a lattice top. Honesty, there wasn’t a doorstep of pastry in the tin, I’d rolled it quite thin. So, the second moment of panic. The answer this time was to use a few mini-cutters to make decorative shapes to sit on the filling. And this also worked well, so yet another bonus point. I was beginning to enjoy all this.

Anyway that’s the story, now if you’re still with me, I’ll finally give you the recipe.

Pastry ingredients

  • I recommend doubling the list above. (You may even have enough for a lattice top. If so, let me know, but please don’t gloat.)

Filling ingredients

  • A sprinkling of semolina
  • 2 x 410g/14oz tins of stoned cherries
  • 50g/1¾oz marzipan
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

1.  To make the pastry sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the mixed spice, salt and caster sugar. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add in the beaten egg and mix to form a dough, or tip it onto a large sheet of cling film and create a dough as you squeeze and wrap it. Form it into a ball then flatten it a little and place in the fridge for at least 30 min.

2. Around now is probably a good time to turn your oven on to 200°C / fan 180° / 400°F / Gas 6.

3.  Butter and line your tart tin unless, like me, you use one of those mesh tins that are supposed to help avoid soggy bottoms. (They’re OK but the pastry goes through the mesh and makes it difficult to release the pie.)

4. Roll out your dough between two sheets of cling film. Remove the top sheet and invert the dough into the tin. You will need to use well floured fingers to work the dough up the side and to mend the inevitable tears. This is quite normal, don’t worry, try not to handle it any more than necessary, then it will still bake well and taste good.

5. Use the cling film or a scrumpled sheet of baking parchment to line the pastry shell and fill it with baking beans or similar material for blind baking. Blind bake for 10 min then remove the beans and give it another 5 min in the oven.

6. Open the tins of cherries and drain off the syrup, but keep it available. Sprinkle a thin layer of semolina into the tart base then tip on the cherries. Add as much syrup as you want/dare. Break off small pieces of marzipan, roll into balls and push into the filling.

7. With your left-over pastry either make a lovely lattice or, if you don’t have enough, roll it out and cut lots of small decorative shapes to place on the surface.

8. Brush the pastry with beaten egg then cover the tart with foil and bake for 20 – 25 min. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 – 15 min or until the pastry is golden brown. (Having blind baked the pastry it’s quite likely for the pie rim to darken quite early. This happened to me, so I used the foil to create a silver circle just to protect the edge.)

9. Leave to cool in the tin and firm up then carefully remove onto a wire rack.

I hope this wasn’t too long-winded and that you have a go at this tart. It’s worth the effort. You can find lots of other lovely bakes via my home page. Here’s a short selection to whet your appetite.

Golden Chocolate Cake

Orange and Blueberry Blondies

Bara Brith

Rolo Caramel Cheesecake

One small point to make – you may have noticed a few random spaces within the text. They look a bit like typing errors, but they aren’t. WordPress – the company I PAY to have this site – are forever having “glitches”. If you’re considering your own website, I definitely would NOT recommend WordPress. I’m currently looking at ways of transferring my site.

Happy Baking

Ian