Mr Bell has taken to drinking bourbon late at night. Just the one mind. He calls it a nightcap. I think it’s his 40s gently approaching. I love the smell of bourbon but sadly not the taste, so with that in mind I’ve mixed it up with silky walnuts and sweet syrup to make this Autumn pud. Even non bourbon lovers like me go back for seconds. (And yes, they are dinosaurs on the top… nothing unusual about that in our house. We are pro dinosaur.)
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
125g cold butter
1 medium or large egg
400g golden syrup
Juice of one lemon
150g fresh breadcrumbs
Zest of 2 lemons
A little milk
A tablespooon of brown crunchy sugar
Make your pastry by mixing the flour and icing sugar together, rubbing in the butter (or whizzing in a food processor) until it looks like very fine breadcrumbs and then add the whole egg. Use a blunt knife to pull the breadcrumbs together, then use your hand to squidge the pastry up until it forms a ball. Don’t add any more liquid, it will come together in the end. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Whilst the pastry is resting add the zest of two lemons to the breadcrumbs, mix and set aside. Then pour the golden syrup into a saucepan (I weigh directly into the pan on digital scales and buy the squeezy bottle version of the golden syrup to save mess.) Next add the juice of one lemon (you will have one lemon leftover which has been alleviated of it’s zest. I suggest you either stuff it into a roasting chicken or pour boiling water over it and drink as a breakfast cleanser after a night on the tiles.) Lastly the bourbon and heat on the hob gently for about 4 minutes until it’s more watery in texture than when you started. Then add the breadcrumbs and zest and stir well. Take off the heat and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 about 15 minutes before your pastry has rested for an hour.
Roll your pastry on a floured surface working in one direction only (don’t vigorously roll backwards and forwards, this makes for tough as old boots pastry), picking it up and turning it after each few rolls to ensure you end up with a rough circle shape rather than a very long piece of pastry. Once about 3mm thick all over pick it up by placing both hands flattened, fingers apart and palm side up under the pastry circle and move over the top of a loose bottomed flan tin (mine was 24 cm across) – remove your palms and then push gently into the sides of the tin. Use a sharp knife to trim the pastry from the sides and if you like make a pretty pattern on the pastry edge using a fork/knife.
Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry case, fill with baking beans or uncooked pulses/rice and then bake for about 10 minutes until the edges are just very light brown. Watch like a hawk! In the meantime crunch up the walnuts by placing them in a bag and bashing with a rolling pin and try and cut some nice shapes from the leftover scraps of pastry. Don’t re-roll more than once or it’ll be a bit tough and no-one likes that.
Once the edges of the pastry are brown, remove the baking paper and beans and bake nude for a further 2 – 3 mins. Then place the bashed up walnuts on the bottom and over that spoon the breadcrumby mixture and tease to the edges.
There isn’t loads of this, just enough. Brush a little milk (or egg wash) over the edge of the pastry case then pop your extra pastry shapes over the top of the tart, overlapping the edge slightly if you like.
Brush these with milk and sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, again watching like a hawk.
Enjoy warm or cold with cream or custard or bourbon ice-cream. Now there’s a thought.
(This time two years age I was just celebrating the arrival of my second son and munching on these! Ah how time flies when you’re making pastry dinosaurs…)