I like gooseberries, because of their “just right” blend of sweet and tart, but also because of their undeniable seasonality. Unlike strawberries that you can buy pretty much anytime (though they won’t always be worth eating), gooseberries are only available…now.
I only grow mildew-resistant varieties, because in our wet summers mildew is almost inevitable. There are many resistant varieties and they are tasty too, so why ask for trouble?
We grow the well known Hinnonmäki, but also Rochus and Pax. Pax is not only resistant but also thorn-free – makes the picking a lot more pleasant!
I made gooseberry tart last year, following the recipe from Sarah Raven’s garden Cookbook. It was good, but not perfect – the custard was not sweet enough to counterbalance the sourness of the berries and though I am someone who frequently reduces sugar in recipes, I don’t think this is the place to do it. So this year I slightly changed the gooseberry- sugar ratio. I also substituted creme fraiche for the regular cream in the custard (velvety texture and more interesting taste), and mashed half the gooseberries into the custard, to make the flavors blend better.
Now it’s perfect.
Gooseberry creme fraiche tart
I used two kinds of gooseberries: “Rochus” (green) and “Pax” (red) which looks pretty in the tart, but you can use use whichever gooseberry you grow/like best.
175 g unbleached flour
50 g icing sugar
90 g cold butter, cut in cubes
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 tbsp ice cold water
300 g gooseberries, topped and tailed
150 g sugar
250 ml creme fraiche
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Make the dough first. Sift flour and sugar into a medium bowl then add butter. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and just enough water to make the dough come together. Chill the butter for at least half an hour – or overnight if that’s convenient. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and use it to line a 24 cm fluted tart pan. Prick the bottom with a fork and chill the dough in the pan for another 30 minutes.
Place a baking sheet in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).
Put about half the gooseberries in a medium bowl and mash them (I used potato masher for this), not too fine. Add the rest of the gooseberries and the sugar and let marinate for about 15 minutes. Then add the creme fraiche, eggs, flour, vanilla and salt and mix gently.
Meanwhile, take the dough from the fridge, line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake the tart dough blind for about 20 minutes, until just beginning to look golden. Take it out of the oven and fill carefully with the gooseberry mixture – don’t overfill! I had some filling left and baked the rest in a small ramekin next to the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes more, until the custard is set. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving, or it will be impossible to slice. It tastes very good when completely cold, too.