Sweet as can be

PUBLISHED: 06:25 27 October 2014

Pear, Lime & treacle tart.

Pear, Lime & treacle tart.

Archant 2014

One ingredient in my kitchen I really could not manage without is an egg; that perfectly formed creation of nature full of protein and goodness which makes a meal in minutes. No kitchen would be the same without one or a dozen.

As always, fresh is best, and we are lucky to have several egg producers within a few miles of the farm, as well as our own chickens in the garden. If I do need to buy eggs, I purchase them from one of the farms where the chickens range freely, as they do at Ben Chandler’s farm in Riddlesworth. The yolks have a beautiful colour and the whites have substance to them which means they don’t disappear over the plate or in a pan.

The Chandlers started their free range egg business in August 2008 and housed their first flock of 16,000 hens. This is farming in a way that gives the chickens the best possible welfare, making a happier hen, producing an egg that has flavour and the consistency that every cook, chef and good recipe needs.

Riddlesworth Eggs from Ben Chandler at Home Farm, Riddlesworth, near Diss, IP22 2TD; 01953 681254; www.riddleswortheggs.co.uk

It’s no yolk

Keep eggs somewhere cool. If you do store your eggs in the fridge, keep them in their cartons or a bowl, as they absorb odours from other foods.

Let cold eggs come to room temperature before you use them.

Fresh eggs are better for making Yorkshires and older eggs for meringues - all to do with the breaking down of the protein as the egg ages.

One of my family’s favourite traditional recipes for when the nights start to draw in is treacle tart. I have a basket of cooking pears from a tree in the garden and this month I have made my treacle tart with a new twist, having added grated pears and limes to cut through the sweetness of the treacle, with eggs, cream and brioche crumbs too.

Treacle tart

The sweet pastry

230g plain flour

70g icing sugar

Finely grated rind of a lime

130g chilled and diced unsalted butter

1 small egg yolk

A dash of milk

The filling

2 medium eggs, plus the leftover egg white from the pastry

Finely grated zest of a lime and the juice of two limes

300ml double cream

350ml golden syrup

100g bread or brioche crumbs

2 firm pears, peeled and grated

Icing sugar for dusting

A 26cms by 4cms deep, loose bottom flan tin

1 Place the flour, sugar, lime rind and butter in the food processor and give it a quick blitz, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then, using the pulse button, add the egg yolk and a little milk if needed to bind the dough together - or make this pastry by hand. Press the pastry into a flat disc shape and wrap in cling film, then chill in the fridge for a least an hour - this makes it easier to roll out.

2 Thinly roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, and line the flan tin. Roll the rolling pin over the top to trim the sides.

3 Line the flan tin with baking parchment and baking beans and cook the case in a preheated oven, 200°C/Gas Mark 6, until lightly golden - about 15 minutes (remove the parchment and beans after 10 minutes so the base cooks through). Lower the oven temperature to 180°/Gas Mark 5.

4 In a large jug whisk the eggs, lime juice and zest together, then add the cream and golden syrup until the mixture has completely combined. Add the breadcrumbs and grated pear to the jug then pour directly into the cooked pastry base. Continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes until the filling is golden brown and set. If the top starts to brown too quickly, turn down the temperature and cover with baking parchment.

In an Aga – You don’t need to bake the pastry blind, line the tin with the pastry then add the filling and bake on the floor of the roasting oven for the first 10 to 15 minutes, making sure it doesn’t brown too quickly. Then slide the cold shelf on the second set of runners and bake for a further 15 minutes. Transfer to the simmer oven and cook for a further 10 to 25 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped fresh cream.

To find out about Mary Kemp’s cookery theatres, demonstrations and more recipes, follow her on www.marykemp.net

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