The Marchmont green grocers had huge boxes of Spanish white nectarines for £2 this week. ‘How is £2 possible?’ I asked. They didn’t know. After months of ‘ripen-in-the-bowl’ stone fruit – that slowly soften, but are never actually ripe – these were a real treat. We ate a whole box, just as they were – sticky and tart, with sweetness running down our wrists.
I scoured my books for nectarine and peach recipes and found an excuse to buy a second box inside Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion in a recipe that she borrowed from Marieke Brugman. Ila was asleep when I started baking so I couldn’t run out for the macadamias and Cointreau that I lacked. Below is my adaptation:
- 1 quantity short crust pastry (makes 2 tarts)
- 6-8 nectarines
- 150 g butter
- 200 g castor sugar
- 150 g ground almonds
- 50 g chopped almonds
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup gin mixed with lemon syrup
Take the pastry from the fridge, roll out, press into tart tins and return them to the fridge for an hour. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line the tart cases with foil, followed by baking beans or lentils, and bake blind for 20 minutes. Leave to cool.
Slice the nectarines and arrange, skin-side-up, in the cooled tart cases. Cream butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Mix in the ground almonds. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the gin and sugar syrup. (I boiled sugar, water, lemon juice and lemon rind into a syrup and used about 2 tablespoons of it with the gin.) Fold in the chopped nuts and pour the batter over the fruit. Bake in a preheated 160° oven for 50 minutes – 1 hour. Allow tart to cool in oven.
I’ve never cooked with gin before, but I think nectarines and juniper berries are a combination worth revisiting.