This is summer's finest tart! Every year Anna-Louise makes one and everyone we know tries to wangle an invitation to her house to taste a slice. It's originally a Roux brother's recipe and takes a while as the pastry needs some serious chilling. But it's absolutely worth the wait.
To make the shortbread dough (pâte sablée):
This is very delicate and you must work fast without over-handling the dough as it softens very quickly. Any leftover pastry can be cut into biscuits for afternoon tea.
250g plain flour
200g butter at room temperature
100g sifted icing sugar
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
1 drop vanilla or lemon essence (optional)
Sift the flour on to the work surface and make a well in the centre. Dice the butter and place it the well, then work it with your fingertips until very soft. Sift the icing sugar on to the butter, add the salt and work into the butter. Add the egg yolks and mix well. Gradually draw in the flour and mix until completely amalgamated. Add the vanilla or lemon essence, if using, and rub into the dough two or three times using the palm of your hand. Roll the dough into a ball and flatten it lightly into a disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for several hours.
To make the tart:
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C, Gas Mark 7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 3mm. Take a 22cm diameter, 4cm deep flan ring. Grease it with butter, place it on the baking sheet and line it with the pastry. Don’t worry if the edges are rough. Place a circle of greaseproof paper inside the pastry and fill the pastry case with ceramic beans. Bake blind in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the ceramic beans with a spoon and lift out the paper. Set aside at room temperature. Lower the oven to 180 degrees C, Gas Mark 4.
To make the filling:
440ml double cream
Half a vanilla pod, split, or a few drops of vanilla essence
60g white currants to garnish (optional)
180g or about 6 tbsp redcurrant jelly
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream and sugar. Add the seeds from the vanilla pod or the vanilla essence. Pour the filling into the part-baked tart case and bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Leave to cool for a while, then remove the flan from the tin before it has cooled completely – it needs to be fairly solid before handling.
Remove the redcurrants from their stalks by sliding the prongs of a fork right down the stalk. Discard any berries that are damaged and leave the rest in a bowl. Leave the white currants on their stalks. Scatter the redcurrants so that they cover the entire surface of the flan, and come right up to the top of the crust.
Gently melt the redcurrant jelly in a small saucepan or microwave and leave to cool. When it is almost cool, but still runny, use a spoon to apply an even coating of the glaze to the redcurrants. Decorate the tart with the white currants, slide it on to a round serving plate and serve it whole.