Manchester Tart has been a favourite in my family for three generations and was a regular on the local school dinner menu until around thirty years ago. My nana (who used to be a school cook) made this dessert for years, so I thought it was about time I gave it a go.
The traditional recipe for a Manchester tart is a shortcrust base, raspberry jam, vanilla custard, topped with coconut and maraschino cherries.
I deviated a little and made a mixed berry jam instead of raspberry as the quality of the raspberries in the local supermarkets wasn’t great.
You can, of course, buy in readymade ingredients, but I made it all from scratch. If you aren’t familiar with dessert cooking, I’d recommend setting aside an afternoon to make the tart as there’s a lot of cooling involved.
- Pastry – 3 cups of plain flour, ¾ cup and 1 tablespoon (200 grams) of butter of butter, 6 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt.
- Jam – 4 cups of mixed berries, 1 cup of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Vanilla custard – 3 cups of milk, 3 egg yolks, ¾ cup of sugar, 1, ½ tablespoon of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 4 teaspoons of corn flour.
- Butter for greasing
- Desiccated coconut
- Maraschino cherries
You will need
- Blender/food processor
- 2 medium sized pans
- Cup and spoon measurements
- 4 containers for cooling
- Cling film
- Tart case (one with a removable bottom ideally)
- Jam needs a while to cook if you want it to be really thick so I made that first. Blend the berries into a chunky puree for a smooth jam or you can chop them a little, for a chunkier consistency.
- Add these to a pan on medium heat, along with the sugar and lemon juice. Allow it to cook for a minimum of thirty minutes, stirring regularly and it should get a layer of small bubbles on top. If you like super thick jam, leave it a little longer.
- When it’s finished cooking, pour into a container or bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature, whilst you make the other parts of the tart.
- The pastry also needs time to chill so that’s the next stage. Put the flour and butter in to a bowl, making sure the butter is diced, and rub it together using your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs, ensuring there are no lumps of butter left in it.
- Add the water and salt, combining it all together until it becomes dough. Kneed lightly on a floured surface for a couple of minutes, just making sure the mixture is properly combined.
- Then wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for around 30 minutes to allow it to chill.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grease your tart tin with butter.
- Prepare to cook the custard! Put the milk into a pan and in a separate container beat together to flour, sugar and eggs until smooth – it will look like a packet cake mix. Put these to the side to be used in a bit.
- Next take the shortcrust dough from the fridge and roll out on a clean, floured surface. Make sure it is about half a centimetre thick. Roll the pastry around the rolling pin, and lift it, pulling the tart tin towards you. Then un-roll the pastry from the pin over the tart tin. Set the rolling pin aside and gently press the pastry into the tin, to achieve the proper shape of the tin. Trim the edges of the pastry to the edge of the tin, but don’t overdo it, as the pastry will shrink!
- Put a piece of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and half fill with baking beans (NOT baked beans!) Then put in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, take it out of the oven, take off the paper and beans, returning it to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- While the pastry is cooking, warm the milk for the custard on a low heat, until small bubbles appear in the milk, but don’t let it boil.
- Remove from the heat, and whisk in the egg yolk mixture. Put it back on the heat, and mix the cornflour with some water in a separate container. Pour the cornflour mixture in to the custard as needed until nice and thick. Stir in the vanilla extract last. Allow it to cool, stirring it occasionally so it doesn’t get a skin.
- Once you have done all your washing up (or got someone else to do it), the three components of the tart should be cooled enough to put assemble it. There seems to be a few different ways of doing this, but I’ve kept to the traditional method.
- For this bit, you will need some icing sugar, maraschino cherries and desiccated coconut. Spoon the jam into the pastry base to making a thin, even layer. Then sprinkle coconut over the jam – no specific amount for this, do it according to taste. Put this in the fridge for about 20 minutes to allow it to set properly.
- When you take it out of the fridge, pour the custard on top of the jam evenly and then decorate with cherries and icing sugar. Return to the fridge for about 30 mins before serving.