Recipe: Nectarine & Sweet Geranium Almond Tart (Gluten Free)

It’s been over a month since I posted a recipe – perhaps because real life has rather taken over. I now have a full time job as the cafe chef at the lovely Skip Garden Kitchen near King’s Cross. The Skip Garden (an urban garden in the middle of a construction site) is part of Global Generation, a youth education charity that focuses on connecting young people (and others – families, local businesses) to the natural world. So, as well as lots of cooking, I also get the opportunity to work with and train volunteers and young people to prepare and harvest food. As the cafe chef I’ve been experimenting with lots of different cakes and bakes, we’re working towards having gluten free and vegan options available as often as possible. This no pastry tart has been a real hit in the cafe and I’ve found it a super useful recipe, it is quick to make (no need to make and chill short crust and bake blind) and you can make it with pretty much whatever fruit you fancy. Peaches, pears, plums raspberries and blackberries all work well.

This recipe is inspired by a recipe from a charity cookbook that my Mum’s tennis club produced a few years ago to raise money for building some new courts. The book is called ‘ Game, Set and Batch’, you’ve got to love a pun! The original recipe is made with pears and is served with a dark chocolate sauce, which makes a really elegant dinner party dessert. I’ve made quite a few changes to the recipe and made it gluten free, but you can easily replace the gluten free flour with the same amount of regular plain flour if you are not fussed about wheat free.

In this recipe I’ve used sweet (or scented) geranium to flavour the batter. The variety I use is Pelargonium Graveolens which has a lovely rosy, lemony scent. It’s a really unusual and distinctive smell and flavour but absolutely delicious when used in small quantities to infuse cream or milk in desserts (it makes a delicious panna cotta) or when poaching fruit or, as in this recipe, chopped up really fine in cakes or traybakes. If you want to use sweet geranium you will probably need to grow your own, we bought ours from a company called Scented Geraniums, which are an internet nursery based in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. They deliver all over the UK and Ireland. However, if you don’t have a sweet geranium you can leave it out or add another flavour or herb, I’ve experimented with lemon thyme, lemon verbena and vanilla.

Serves 8 – 10 people, depending on how big you slice.

Ingredients:

265g icing sugar

75g gluten free plain flour

150g ground almonds

1 lemon (zest only)

2 large sweet geranium leaves (finely chopped)

8 free range egg whites. This is lots of egg whites so this is a good time to make ice cream or lemon curd or custard to use up your yolks!

265g melted butter

3 ripe nectarines, stones removed and cut into thin slices

30g flaked almonds

Grease a 10 inch (25cm) tart tin with a removable base. I just use some of the melted butter. You can also make this in little individual tart tins, which look really cute.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/400 degrees farenheit or Gas Mark 6.

Sieve flour and icing sugar together into a bowl and the then stir in the ground almonds, lemon zest and finely chopped sweet geranium.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are just frothy. You just need to whisk for about a minute, you aren’t looking for soft peaks, just a bit of air in the egg whites.

Add the egg whites and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and then pour the mixture into the prepared tart tin or tins.

Arrange your fruit on top of the batter, I like concentric circles. Very pleasing! And then sprinkle on the the flaked almonds.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes at 200 degrees celsius and then reduce the temperature to 180 degrees celsius for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve solo for an afternoon coffee break or with softly whipped cream for dessert.

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