A while ago, I did a post about Scotland’s famous Ecclefechan Butter Tart. Today, I’ve done a bit of a variation on a theme. In place of the mixed dried fruit and nuts, it’s just currants, currants, currants, all enrobed in butter, sugar and eggs for a slightly custard-like touch.
However, never the one to resist making little tweaks, I did make a few more changes.
Firstly, I soaked the currants before using them. As they are already quite sweet, but seems just a tad too dry. I was just looking to make them more juicy, and six large spoons of brandy did the trick. I left the currants to soak for a couple of hours to make sure that they absorbed all the brandy and were appropriately plump.
Next, I also added the zest of half a lemon – I got the feeling that the filling could be a little too rich with just the raisins and the custardy filling. Luckily, this was the right call – just enough zestiness to lift the tart, but not so much as to overpower the currant flavour.
The resulting tart is quite different to the Ecclefechan Butter Tart. This is mainly due to the fact there is a lot more fruit in this version, so the butter mixture just holds everything together, rather than become thick, sweet and caramel-like. In fact, I thought it tasted a little bit festive, and it reminded me of that other Scottish favourite, Black Bun, which is a New Year speciality. It’s quite a grown-up flavour, and I defy anyone to unveil something with this amount of dried fruit in front of a small child and not provoke screaming. Just to warn you!
Now, the name. Would love to claim that this is some sort of recipe with an ancient pedigree from this great metropolis, but it’s just an attempt to be playful (given that, eh, it’s based on a recipe from the Scottish town of Ecclefechan…). So, as far as I know, this is the first time this sort of tart has been made. Hence I’ve called this the London Currant Tart.
Let’s see if that catches on.
To make a London Currant Tart:
For the pastry:
• 100g plain flour
• 50g butter, cold, cut into cubes
• 25g caster sugar
• 1 egg yolk
• cold water
In a bowl, rub the butter into the flour. Once the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the sugar and mix well. Add the egg yolk and just enough cold water so the mixture comes together (1-2 tablespoons of water is probably enough).
Cover the pastry in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Use to line a 20cm loose-bottomed flan dish (the pastry will be quite thin), and prick with a fork. Place the tart shell in the fridge while making the filling.
For the filling:
• 500g currants
• 6 tablespoons (100ml) brandy
• 125g butter, melted and cooled
• 200g white caster sugar
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
• zest of 1/2 lemon
In a bowl, mix the currants and brandy. Leave to stand until the brandy has been absorbed.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
In a bowl, combine the sugar, butter and eggs. Stir in the vinegar, then fold in the currants and lemon zest. Pour into the pastry shell.
Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is slightly puffy and lightly browned in the centre (turn the tart during baking).
Serve cold, either as is or with a light dusting of icing sugar for a dressier look.
Worth making? Obviously this is a tart for those who like currants, but if you do, it’s delicious! But it can be tweaked to use sultanas or possibly cranberries, and you can tweak the flavour by adding orange zest or a dash of spice. This would also make nice little individual tarts, the likes of which you might expect to grace a fashionable tea party down Kensington or Chelsea way.