Following a recent visit to Rockpool on George, I thought I’d give the date tart a go. This recipe is definitely a keeper – though I need another go to perfect it as I got a lot of pastry shrinkage so I didn’t get enough filling in. I also recommend flattening the dates so that they are covered. Note that although this is often referred to “Neil Perry’s date tart”, having been on the menu for some 25 years at Rockpool, it was actually the joint creation of Perry and Lorraine Godsmark, who was the pastry chef at Rockpool at the time. No idea how accurate this recipe is, but it was apparently published in a magazine some 15 years ago. What this recipe is missing is the fine layer of cake on top – I think this is something similar to the brown butter topping in Lorraine’s pear and ginger tart – at a guess you would bake until the custard is partially set, pipe on the topping and return to the oven.
10 fresh dates, pitted and halved
7 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
700ml fresh cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
180g cold butter, chopped roughly
25g caster sugar
1 tbs milk
250g plain flour, sifted
1. For pastry combine butter, sugar, egg and milk in a food processor and process until butter is in small lumps. Add flour and process until mixture just comes together in a ball.
2. Gently knead pastry on a lightly floured surface to from a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
3. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a 25mm deep round 28cm flan tin (with removable base). Cover and refrigerate for ½ hour.
4. Place tart shell on an oven tray, line with baking paper, fill with dried beans or rice and bake at 200C for 10 minutes. Remove paper and beans and bake a further 10 minutes or until golden.
5. Meanwhile, cream egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in cream and seeds from the vanilla bean.
6. Place dates on pastry in two circles. Pour cream mixture into tart shell, to cover dates, then bake at 180C for about 30 minutes, or until just set. Cool to room temperature before serving.