Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries;
-Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
I love old cooking encyclopedias like Larousse Gastronomique. It's the simple straight forwardness of it all. Today's cookbooks are beautiful, don't get me wrong. They're displayed on my shelves, and on tables. It's the huge presented images and the stunning fonts that get me. And they're rarely used. Why? Because at 8pm when you feel like smashing out a blackberry tart, you want the recipe that takes 6 ingredients that you have in your cupboard (Larousse), not 16 (Jamie Oliver). And the steps should only be 5 lines long (Larousse), not a page (Jamie Oliver).
Jamie Oliver's recipe sounds melt-in-your-mouth -- it would be with all the pure icing sugar, vanilla pod, lemon zest, macarpone, single cream, vin santo that's in it. (Which, by the way, is a dessert wine. Do you have that hanging around you cupboard?) It also sounds like you spend more time reading and making it than eating it.
Makes me wonder if we're getting too far away from the basics of cooking and baking. I think of the number of elaborate recipes I've followed but if you asked me what each ingredient did for the recipe or why it was necessary, I couldn't tell you.
So if you have a craving for late night blackberry tart, want to whip up a batch of hot tarts on Easter morning, or just want to get back to basics, this altered tart recipe from Larousse Gastronomique will hit the spot.
In a bowl, add in 2 1/4 cups (250g) sifted flour and make a well in the centre. Add in 150g cold butter, 1 egg white, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix then knead until it is all incorporated. Wrap in cling wrap or baking paper and chill for at least 1/2 hour in the fridge.
Line individual tart cases, first with a wipe with butter, then with the dough, rolled and cut to shape. Bake the tarts empty in a preheated oven (~160oC) until starting to golden. Then fill with defrosted blackberries that have been generously sprinkled with sugar and mashed, and place back in oven for another 5-10 minutes (although keep an eye on it so you don't burn the tart crust).