Today sees the last of the mini heatwave. I spend a hot day in the kitchen baking, wishing I was lolling about in the garden with a good book. The evening air is finally a little cooler and I shrug on a cardigan to take the dog out for her last amble. There are many differences between living in the village and our former life in London, but perhaps none more striking than the absence of light and sound at night. There are no street lights here, only the moon and the stars to light our way as we wander up the path.
We stop periodically and I drink in the quiet stillness, gazing up at the blanket of stars sparkling in the inky darkness. The sky is so clear, I could stand and stare all night, but the dog decides it is time for bed and we head home. When we return, I raid the fridge for a piece of blueberry and lime tart that I made earlier in the day. I am not generally a midnight snacker, perhaps all the late night air has made me peckish, or maybe this light, cool tart filled with whipped mascarpone, lime zest and fresh blueberries is too tempting to resist.
I could not have chosen a more unsuitable hot day to make pastry, it does need cold butter, cool fingers and a light touch. It can be made in a food processor, but that can result in overworked, tough pastry, so I prefer to make it by hand. The pastry case can be prepared and baked blind ahead of time and the tart quickly finished before serving.
- Sweet shortcrust pastry
- 275g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 100g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 eggs
- 500g mascarpone
- 80g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons, finely grated rind of unwaxed limes, plus a little extra to decorate
- 375g blueberries
- icing sugar, for dusting
- First make the pastry by placing the flour in a bowl or on a marble work surface. Add the butter and icing sugar and rub it into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the eggs. Using the tips of your fingers bring the mixture together until you have a ball of sticky dough.
- On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough lightly until smooth. Flatten the dough so that it is roughly 1cm thick and wrap in clingfilm. Place in the fridge to rest for 1 hour
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
- Roll the pastry out between two pieces of cling film or baking paper until it is approximately 3mm thick.
- Line a lightly greased 33cm x 9cm loose bottomed rectangular tart tin with the pastry. Trim the edges and prick the bottom of the base with a fork. Put back in the fridge for 30 minutes
- Place a rectangular piece of baking paper in the lined tin and fill with baking beans or rice.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, before removing the paper and beans and baking for a further 10 minutes of until the pastry is golden. Leave the baked pastry case in the tin to cool.
- When you are ready to serve, make the filling by placing the mascarpone, lime zest and icing sugar in a bowl and whisking until combined.
- Gently remove the pastry case from the tin and place of a serving plate. Fill the case with the mascarpone cream and top with the blueberries, sprinkle with a little more lime zest and dust with icing sugar to serve.