As I’m back in the motherland for the Easter vacay, I’ve been experimenting with Kentish foodstuffs. This week’s delight is one of the county’s few and (appaz) finest exports – ‘gypsy tart’- two words which when put together probably don’t give the best first impressions of our county.
Gypsy tart is an acquired taste, which incidentally, the family members that I baked it for did not appear to have acquired; understandable given that it merely consists of pastry and a heady combo of dark muscovado sugar mixed with lashings of condensed milk.
Quite honestly, of my favourite Kentish things (strawberries, hops, pubs, potential landowner husbands who show an avert willingness to gallantly provide the small army of ‘free range’ children that I want by the time I’m 32), gypsy tart is NOT one of them. However, I’d been meaning to nail the short crust pastry technique for a while and what better opportunity to do it than in my mum’s squeaky clean, glossy kitchen which is clearly not designed for cooking at all.
The tart’s origins are hazy – the Welsh claim it as their own under the name of ‘tarten sipsi’ – sounds almost exotic. But anybody from these parts will tell you it’s ours and probably have pretty strong (and mostly bad) memories of gypsy tart from their school dinner days. Legend has it that a kindly old lady took pity on the hordes of malnourished gypsy infants playing near her house so baked them a gypsy tart. Nowadays she’d probably just get multiple ASBOs slapped on them but as we all know, the world used to be a much lovelier place.
Gordo, Nige and JO all have recipes for this sickly sweet tart thus proving that it’s not just some weird sugary shit I’ve made up. It’s sweeter than the blue Panda Pop so to cut through the intense sugariness, I made a sharp berry coulis to go with it. This made it more bearable.
Having used an entire block of butter, a tray of eggs and copious kilos of flour whilst working with Gaz’s shit-brained suggestion; fortunately Leith’s recipe was far more successful and gave me lovely crunchy base.
Verdict: if you’ve got a very sweet tooth, you’ll perhaps make it through a little slice without slumping into a sugar-induced coma. I’m not suggesting you hurriedly bake yourself one as gypsy tart is rather squiffy and controversial on the taste buds – but I’m merely ‘repping my ends’, farting about with coulis and a camera and thoroughly enjoying making a mess of my mother’s pristine kitchen.