I follow a blog called Belleau Kitchen and the writer, Dom, currently has something called a Random Recipe challenge. Basically, you take a favourite cookbook, allow it to fall open at random page and cook or bake whatever is on the open page – the recipe was meant to be for a cake or dessert.
I thought this looked like fun so I decided to have a go. It didn’t quite work out as I intended.
I do have a lot of cookbooks so first I had to decide whether to choose an old favourite or a new one that I had hardly explored yet. I decided on the latter but the first book I chose fell open at a savoury tart so that was no good – it was meant to be a sweet baking challenge.
Then I cheated. The second book fell open at an incredibly gooey, fancy pudding that was very fiddly to make and, quite frankly, we would never eat. So I rejected that one.
I was lucky with the third attempt. A marmalade polenta cake, baked with orange and lemon slices around the top and sides. It looked delicious but required quite a lot of work, cooking the fruit and making a syrup as well as baking the cake.
Then I ran out of time to do it before the challenge ends and we go on holiday. Shame.
I diligently took my library books back as they were due to expire whilst we are away, but couldn’t resist a sneaky look if they had anything new in the baking section. I spotted the absolutely scrummy book you see above. It was fairly new in the library but already well used with sticky finger marks on the pages. Always a good sign.
When I got it home I flipped through and it fell open at “rustic plum tart”. Now there’s an idea I thought. It looked delicious, yet simple and quick to make. I could enter the challenge after all.
Except for one thing – I didn’t have any plums.
The recipe said you could use any ripe fruit and suggested apples. I didn’t have any apples either but did have some very ripe pears and an unopened punnet of strawberries so I used those. It was WONDERFUL.
Basically, you make a simple batter and pour it into a lined cake tin, scatter the fruit on top and bake.
The finishing touch is to brush the tart with melted apricot jam. I wouldn’t normally bother with this but as it was for a challenge I decided to do it – even had to make a special trip to the Spa shop to buy some jam, sliding in just before they closed at 4pm on Sunday. (We had every other possible variety of jam in the house but no apricot.) It gave the finished tart a “patisserie” appearance which was lovely.
So there we are, rustic pear and strawberry tart. It doesn’t look much like a tart to me, more like a cake, but who’s complaining? Not me, it was delicious.
Here’s what you need.
90g caster sugar
40ml vegetable oil
140g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
2-3 drops vanilla extract
half a punnet or a handful of strawberries
2tblsp apricot jam to glaze
Here’s what you do.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan), gas mk 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin, preferably springform.
Using an electric whisk, beat the egg and sugar until light and creamy. Add the all the other ingredients except the fruit and jam and beat again until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
Peel and core the pears and cut into quarters. Wash and hull the strawberries. Arrange the fruit on top of the cake mixture.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown, remove and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes.
To glaze the tart, put the jam in a small pan and heat gently until runny. Remove the tart from the tin and brush the glaze over the top and sides. Cool slightly more before serving.
*The original recipe used 6 large plums, stoned and halved and arranged cut side up on top of the mixture. I will definitely do this again, when I have some plums.
Cuts into 6 slices and leftovers are nice cold, served as a cake.