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Pumpkin and Apple Tart #2

The pumpkin, like rhubarb, has both strong supporters and detractors. It has been used as a savoury vegetable, a main ingredient in soups and as an occasional ingredient in bread and tarts. Like spinach and prunes, it "was one of the stalwart ingredients used for making the sticky, thick, coloured 'tart stuff in the seventeenth century. This became glamorised when the pumpkin travelled with the Pilgrims to North America, giving rise to their much-loved pumpkin pie. One great virtue of the pumpkin is that it will absorb the flavour of whatever it is cooked with.
In the Gower Peninsula of South Wales, pumpkin and apple provide a much-loved old-fashioned tart. But if you find yourself short of a handy pumpkin, just use 1 1/2 lb of apples instead. The addition of dates gives this tart an unexpected texture.

ingredients

serves 6 - 8
225 g (8 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
450 g (1 Ib) apples (Cox's Orange Pippins are good), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
225 g (8 oz) pumpkin, skinned, de-seeded and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
55 g (2 oz) butter
115 g (4 oz) light soft brown sugar
115 g (4 oz) dried dates, halved
175 ml (6 fl oz) double cream
2 dates, very finely chopped, mixed with 2 tablespoons demerara sugar, to decorate

method

1. Line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

3. Place the apple and pumpkin slices in a large bowl. Mix the cornflour and spices together and sprinkle over the apple and pumpkin. Toss to mix.

4. Melt the butter and sugar in a wide flat-bottomed pan and add the spiced apple and pumpkin mixture. Stir over a medium heat for 1 - 2 minutes to ensure that all the slices are covered with the butter and sugar mixture. By this time there will be a thickish, brown, bubbling liquid. Stir in the date halves.

5. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pastry case, then pour the cream over the top. Finally, sprinkle the surface with the finely chopped dates mixed with demerara sugar.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until the tart is golden brown and some of the pieces of fruit begin to look crisp.

7. Serve warm or cold with cream. This tart also goes well with butterscotch ice cream.

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