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Nichola Smith’s Sea-Buckthorn Posset and Fig Tart

  • Serves24
  • DifficultyMedium

For the pastry

225g organic plain flour
80g unrefined caster sugar
110g cold butter, cubed
Zest of one lemon
1 large free range egg
Little milk

For the posset

600ml double cream
150g unrefined sugar
100ml sea-buckthorn juice (If using lemon, use the juice of 2)
6 ripe figs

A posset is extremely easy to make and steeped in history, more than 500 years old and said to be one of Henry VIII favourites. It has 3 components, citrus, sugar and cream and in this recipe I’m using what I call ‘the UK’s answer to citrus’!

Sea-buckthorn is a plant found along the English coast line and if it wasn’t so laborious to harvest (due to it’s hostile spikes), I’m sure we would be using the stunning golden berries of this plant more often. It has a very distinctive flavour and is packed full of healing properties, it’s healthy and it’s yummie!

This recipe is easy peasy and I get a real kick out of knowing that every ingredient comes from the UK. It’s a corka!

I have purchased my Sea-buckthorn from Miles Irving at Forager, where it is sold already juiced by the litre. This recipe only requires a small amount, so I either freeze the rest or make lovely presses/cordials for summer time consumption. However, lemon or lime will make a great posset too.

To make the pastry:

Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. In a large bowl sieve flour and mix in the sugar. Using your hands, rub in the butter until you have a crumb like texture and no big buttery lumps left. Add the lemon zest and mix.

Gently work in the egg and a little milk, just enough to form a dough. Do not over work, this will ruin the pastry and make it shrink when cooking. You want it nice and short, so best to under work than over.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for half hour whilst you get your posset on. After half hour roll out your pastry nice and thin (2mm) and using a pastry cutter cut the required size for your baking tray – I’m using a Yorkshire pud tray. Place your pastry disks over each cup in the tray and gently press down until you have the pastry nice and straight.

You want the pastry shell to have perfect shape, so using rice or lentils, cover each pastry disk with a little cling film and add enough rice/lentils to hold the pastry in place so that it retains it’s shape. If you don’t do this the pastry may bubble and shrink.

Bake in the oven for around 6 - 7 minutes, take the tray out and remove the cling film and grain and put back into the oven to brown all over (roughly 3 to 4 minutes). A darker pastry is infinitely better, but be careful not to overdo it, as it will become bitter. Remove from the oven and cool in a dry place.

To make the posset:

Place the double cream and sugar into a large pan and slowly bring to the boil. Boil for three minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the sea-buckthorn (or other citrus) and whisk. Pour into a container and refrigerate for at least three hours.

To put the tarts together:

Once your posset has set, using two teaspoons, spoon the posset into the tart shells, being careful not to over fill. Cut the figs in half from the top down, then place each half on its flat side and cut into slices. Add a slice of fig to each tart. Dust with icing sugar.

Recipe by Nichola Smith.

This recipe appears in the Celebrity Bake Book, in aid of the Ben Kinsella Trust.

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