Custard tarts and crumble bars: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for summer berries

Are berries the only thing to which the word “glut” attached is a delight Gluttony: not good. A glut of summer berries: one of life’s great joys. Whole punnets of strawberries, raspberries or blueberries that can legitimately, and understandably, be scooped up by hand in one sitting. If, however, you do have the ability to abstain, at least temporarily, there are all kinds of ways these summer treasures can be baked, mashed, drizzled and drunk. The only problem with using up the glut in this way, of course, is that you might need to exercise a degree of self-restraint when the end result is ready.

The leftover egg whites freeze well for up to three months: save them to make angel food cake or flavoured meringues, which also keep well in an airtight jar. If you’d like to get ahead, make the pastry and infuse the cream the day before. This tart will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 30 min
Rest 1 hr
Cool 2 hr
Serves 10

For the tart base
225g plain flour
75g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
Salt
120g fridge-cold unsalted butter
1 egg
, separated
2 tbsp ice-cold water

For the custard
660ml double cream
2 pandan leaves
(10g), cut into 3cm-long pieces, or 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out and pod reserved for another use
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (omit if using vanilla seeds rather than pandan leaves)
15g unsalted butter
½ tbsp rum
(or brandy)
7 egg yolks (save the whites for another use)
75g caster sugar

For the strawberries
400g strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 lime, zested, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1½ tbsp
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp rum (or brandy)

Put the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a food processor, then pulse until well combined. Add the butter and pulse again until the mixture is the texture of breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and iced water, then pour into the flour mixture and pulse three or four times, until the mix starts to come together into a dough. Tip out on to a clean work surface, bring it together in a ball, then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the cream and pandan leaves in a large saucepan on a high heat. Bring up to a boil, then take off the heat and leave to infuse at room temperature for at least an hour.

Grease and line the base of a 23cm x 3½cm springform fluted tart tin. Unwrap the pastry and place it between two sheets of greaseproof paper that are slightly bigger than 30cm wide. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a 30cm-wide x 3mm-thick circle. Remove the top sheet of paper and, using the rolling pin to help you, carefully transfer the pastry to the prepared tin, gently pressing it down and into every flute. Leave any pastry overhang for now, prick the pastry all over with a fork, then return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Line the tart with baking paper, fill with baking beans (or rice), then blind-bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden. Remove from the oven, carefully spoon out the beans with a large spoon, then lift away the paper. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden, then remove and set aside.

Turn down the oven to 130C (120C fan)/275F/gas 1. Whisk the reserved egg white and, using a pastry brush, brush this all over the tart case, thereby filling any fork marks. Bake again for five minutes, until the egg white is dry, then remove and set aside. Using a sharp knife, carefully shave off any overhanging pastry and use a pastry brush to brush away any crumbs inside the pastry case.

Return the cream mix to a medium heat and add the vanilla paste, butter and rum. Bring to a simmer, then pass through a sieve set over a bowl. Press the pandan down with a spoon to extract as much of the trapped cream as possible, then discard the pandan and return the fragrant cream to the pan.

Put the egg yolks in the bowl that previously contained the cream mix, add the sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk to combine. Pour half of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mix, whisking quickly to stop it coagulating, then sieve this mixture back into the cream pan and mix well.

Return the tart tin to the oven, leaving the door open, then pour the custard mix into the tart and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custard is set but wobbles slightly when nudged.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool at room temperature for about an hour, then refrigerate until completely cold.

Ten minutes (or up to half an hour) before you want to serve, in a bowl mix all the ingredients for the strawberries bar the lime zest with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Spoon the strawberries over the top of the custard, leaving any juices behind in the bowl. Sprinkle the lime zest on top and serve with the reserved juices on the side.

Using the same crumble mix for both the top and bottom of these bars makes them super-quick to put together. Once cut into small squares, they’re very transportable, too, so are ideal for your next picnic. Frozen berries will also work very well here, so you can make these long after the summer glut has gone.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Makes 16 bars

For the crumble
225g plain flour
70g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
⅛ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
175g unsalted butter
, melted
40g tahini
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

For the filling
200g halva
300g fresh raspberries
(or frozen and defrosted when not in season)
35g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1¼ tsp sumac

1 tsp good-quality rose water (if you don’t like floral water, use vanilla bean paste instead)

For the raspberry drizzle (optional)
25g fresh raspberries, mashed with a fork (or frozen, defrosted)
5 tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp good-quality rosewater
(or vanilla bean paste)
½ tbsp lemon juice (or water)

Heat the oven to 170C (160C)/350F/gas 4, and grease and line the base and sides of a 22cm square brownie tin with greaseproof paper.

Put the first five ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine, add the melted butter, tahini and vanilla, and mix again – the crumble mix will at this stage seem quite soft.

Measure out 300g of the crumble mix into the prepared tin, smooth out over the base of the tin using the back of a spoon, then bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, refrigerate the remaining crumble mix.

Remove the tin from the oven, turn up the heat to 180C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5 and crumble the halva evenly over the baked crumble base. In a medium bowl, mix the raspberries, sugar, cornflour, half a teaspoon of the sumac and the rosewater, then spoon evenly over the halva. Take the remaining crumble from the fridge and scatter it evenly over the fruit mix. Return the tin to the oven and bake again for 45-50 minutes, turning it once halfway, until the top crumble layer is nicely golden and the fruit juices are starting to bubble. Remove the tin from the oven, place it on a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the drizzle by mashing the 25g raspberries with the icing sugar, rose water, lemon juice and the remaining three-quarters of a teaspoon of sumac. Pour the drizzle over the cooled bake, then unmould, cut into bars or squares, pack into an airtight box and eat within two days.

The leftover steeped fruit makes a lovely addition to yoghurt or ice-cream; alternatively, blitz it into a quick coulis. For a more adult drink, mix the shrub with gin and prosecco rather than sparkling water. The shrub will keep in the fridge for up to three months.

Prep 10 min
Steep 5 days
Serves 8

800g frozen blueberries, defrosted
400g golden caster sugar
8 cardamom pods
, bashed in a mortar to release the seeds, pods reserved
25g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
300ml apple cider vinegar

Put the berries, sugar, cardamom pods and seeds and ginger in a sterilised one-litre jar for which you have a lid. Using a large wooden spoon, mix, mashing the berries gently to release their juices, until the sugar dissolves. Seal the jar tight, then refrigerate for three days.

On the fourth day, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Remove and discard the ginger and cardamom pods, and put the berries in a clean jar and refrigerate. Pour the blueberry juice in the bowl back into the one-litre jar, add the vinegar, stir to combine, then refrigerate for two more days.

To serve, mix 50ml shrub with 120ml sparkling water and serve over ice.

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