To celebrate Local Radio Day, I was tasked with finding a local recipe. It was easy to find “Highland” recipes, but not “Highland Perthshire” recipes – so I cheated a bit. Okay, a lot! It was either this or black pudding… known as “marac” when I was growing up and yes, I have made marac before. Thankfully, the ingredients aren’t so easy to find any more! I opted for the much prettier Scottish Fern Tarts. You will see these little tarts at most local Perthshire bakeries. Thankfully another blogger had put in most of the work sourcing the recipe. Both she and the bakery that helped her are credited below.
Scottish Fern Tarts
Pastry (I had ready rolled, you will need 2 packs or halve the filling/icing measurements)
- 2 cups (8 oz) all purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- one stick (4 oz) good quality butter (I use Kerrygold)
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 to 4 Tbsp ice-cold water
- 3 to 4 tbsp raspberry or blackberry jam
- 1 1/2 stick (6 oz) butter
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) sugar
- about 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) ground almonds/almond meal or almond flour also works (the cup measurement is NOT accurate because of the difference in ground almonds vs. almond flour and the fact that most measuring cups are not reliable. Please use a scale for best results.)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 2/3 cup (3 oz) confectioner’s sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water or milk
- Melted chocolate OR
- Brown or green icing
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
Making the pastry (If you haven’t bought ready made – if you have, follow the instructions on your ready made. I blind baked mine to keep the shape)
- Place the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, then add the water and mix gently to make a soft dough. (Or you can make it in a food processor, like this.) Let rest in fridge for 20 minutes or so.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into circles to fit your mini tins. Using a fork, press the tines into the bottom and sides of the pastry in the tin, then bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until partially cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Spread the jam on the bottom of the crust then make the frangipane filling.
Making the filling and baking
- Melt the butter in a pot, remove from heat and stir in the sugar, ground almonds, egg and almond extract (if using.) Pour the mixture over the jam, but don’t fill too full.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F(180°C) and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden-brown and a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the pan.
Making the icing and decorating.
- Make the icing so that it’s rather thick, but still runny, and cover each tartlet with the icing. Colour a small amount. Immediately draw a design of zig zag lines on the centre of the still wet icing on the tarts with the coloured icing or melted chocolate then drag a toothpick or knife through the design. Allow to set completely before serving or storing.
(I didn’t have tartlet tins so I improvised. I used cupcake cases but folded them flat then it was easier to manipulate the pastry into the tin. I also didn’t squash the pastry down enough. I blind baked (you can do this with dried rice) and thought that would be enough to keep the pastry from puffing but it didn’t really. Also, at this point, I’m worried I filled the cases too full. Bake Off doesn’t have a look in here for angst 😂 If you look up fern tart, you will see I did overfill so mine is more bakewell tart. Very tasty tho!)
Recipe: Christinascucina.com, Christie the Bakers
Photo: M Campbell