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Blackberry and Apple Butterscotch Tart

This tart makes use of wild, home-grown, imported or frozen blackberries. However, it is important, if picking wild or home-grown fruit, to make sure that the variety is suitable for cooking. It should be sweet, compact and free from hard pips. No amount of sugar can transform a sour, shrivelled blackberry into a luscious fruit. The semolina and brown sugar are there to soak up the delicious juices and, together with the lemon juice, to provide a rich butterscotch layer underneath.

ingredients

serves 8
400 g (14 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
3 dessert apples
225 g (8 oz) blackberries, already sweet and not 'pippy' - use frozen if fresh are not available
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
175 g (6 oz) caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
55 g (2 oz) semolina or ground rice
55 g (2 oz) soft brown sugar
1 egg white beaten

method

1. Roll out 225 g (8 oz) of the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin. Pre-bake or bake blind. Wrap and chill the remaining pastry.

2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Place the apple slices in a bowl with the blackberries, then add the lemon zest and juice and 175g (6 oz) caster sugar and stir gently to mix. Taste and add more sugar, if necessary. Cover with clingfilm, then give it a good stir after about 10 minutes. Leave for another 30 minutes to draw out all the juices.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 and place a baking sheet inside to pre-heat.

4. Mix the semolina or ground rice and brown sugar together and spoon the mixture over the base of the pre-baked pastry case. Spoon the fruit, together with its juices, over the semolina and sugar. Place a pie blackbird or an upturned china egg cup in the centre of the tart.

5. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid and place it on top of the tart, sealing well around the edges. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon caster sugar to give a crisp top. Make a couple of slits in the pastry lid. Place the tart on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the apples are really tender. Test for this by inserting a knife through one of the slits to see if the apple is still too crunchy. You may need to protect the edges of the pastry with foil strips towards the end of the cooking time to prevent over-browning.

Serve warm with creme fraiche, thick cream or custard.

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