Sunday, 14 September 2008

Damson and cobnut tart with streusel topping

The damson tree in my parent’s garden has pulled out all the stops this year and given us a bumper crop. Unfortunately, all the damsons seem to be ripening at the same time, hence my jam making frenzy!

I’ve adapted this recipe from a plum and almond tart, then added a streusel topping. Hey, I’m greedy – I can’t help it, if you can add more to something, why not? You can easily make this tart with plums (Victoria would be particularly good) and almonds – just substitute like for like.

My plan was to use almonds but then, shopping at Borough Market – London’s oldest food market – I came across some Kent Cobnuts and decided to use them instead.

Cobnuts are a type of hazelnut and are fascinating looking things:

You have to pull the nut out from the leaves and then shell it, using nutcrackers.

The nut has the best flavour when toasted – this only takes 10-15 minutes at 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. If you want to find out more about cobnuts this is a very useful site.

The tart case is not a pastry thus no rolling is required. It is almost a cinnamon shortbread and you press it into the tin. Cinnamon and plum/damson is a wonderful combination and as the tart cooks your kitchen smells of Autumn.

The crushed cobnuts were scattered into the base of the tart:

I was going to scatter the damsons in the tart base but then realised that if I was neat, I could pack more in! I ended up with something that looked like an exotic flower...made of damsons:

Here it is ready to serve:

The downside of packing the tart so full of fruit was that it was very juicy and hard to cut clean slices. In truth, that’s not much of a downside....

The biscuit crust was really delicious and I will definitely use it for other desserts. The cinnamon turns it a rich brown (rest of the slice not visible due to be buried under a gallon of custard!):

For the cinnamon shortbread:
175g plain flour
130g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling:
1 kilo of plums or damsons (I used a bit more)
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of almond extract
30g of chopped, toasted nuts – I used cobnuts but almond would be lovely too

For the streusel topping:
60g unsalted butter
75g plain flour
60g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Start by making the cinnamon shortbread. In a food processor whizz together all the ingredients until you have a juicy crumb that, when pressed, holds together.
- Press the shortbread into a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin, making sure there are no gaps and the shortbread comes right up the sides. There is no need to grease the tin as the shortbread has a lot of butter in it.
- Now prepare the damson filling. Stone and quarter each damson and place in a bowl. Add the sugar, cornflour, cinnamon and almond extract and toss the damsons to ensure that each piece is coated.
- Scatter the nuts in the base of the shortbread shell, then arrange the damson slices on top. I did this neatly in concentric circles simply because you can pack more fruit in that way.
- Tempting though it is, resist the urge to pour the sugary syrup that is left in the bowl over the damsons. The damsons will release more juice as they cook and you do not want the shortbread to become soggy.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- While the tart is baking, make the streusel topping. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz together until a dark crumb forms.
- When the tart has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and scatter the streusel topping over the damsons. I like to leave a gap of about an inch around the edge with no streusel topping so you can see the damsons.
- Bake for a further 15 minutes then place on a wire rack to cool.
- The tart can be served at room temperature with some whipped cream or warmed and served with custard.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


Beth said...

I love damson jam! This tart looks fantastic. Never had a cobnut I don't think

Margaret said...

I love damsons, but sadly where I live these are very difficult to get. The purple juice from the fruit is wonderful.
Lovely tart.

glamah16 said...

I plan to visit Borough market Friday. I will be in the lookout for these.I love plums.

Rosie said...

Brilliant looking Damson tart C.C. I've never tried cobnut as yet.

Rosie x

Y said...

Yum! I love damsons and I saw those cobnuts at the markets the last time I was in London, but I didn't get to try them. Do they taste like normal hazelnuts?

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've never heard of damsons, but this tart looks absolutely fantastic!