Pictures by Paul Watt

An ice-cold tea nicely compliments this Fruit cake.


(serves four to six people)
For the pastry
100g soft butter; 50 g caster sugar;
120g plain flour; 50 g cornflour.

For the filling
425 ml full fat milk; 1 vanilla pod, split
2-3 strips unwaxed lemon zest;
5 egg yolks; 100 g caster sugar;
2 level tablespoons plain flour; 1 tablespoon cornflour;
fruit, peaches, berries or apricots; apricot jam to glaze.

Preparation (pastry)

Beat the butter and sugar until soft and creamy.
Add the sieved flours and mix everything together to make a dough. Sprinkle some flour on a clean work surface and roll out the dough about 2-3 cm thick. Cut out rounds to fit the greased pastry cases you are using.
Bake in a warm oven, 150C/300F/Gas 2 for 30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned.

Preparation (filling)

Add the vanilla pod and lemon zest to the milk in a saucepan and bring it just to blood heat. Allow the flavours to infuse. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds adding them to the milk for extra flavour. Remove the lemon zest.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are light and fluffy. Sift the flour and cornflour into the mixture and fold it in. Prepare a pot of simmering water that the bowl with the eggs will sit over and whisk in the hot milk. Cook gently over the hot milk, stirring well until the mixture begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Allow to cool.

Assemble the torta when the pastry and crema pasticcera are cold. Spread some crema pasticcera into each tart. Pile slices of peaches or berries on top making a delicate display. Melt the apricot jam and brush some over the fruit to give a professional glaze.