This week was the start of Wimbledon (think strawberries and cream) and culminates in Independence Day (Saturday, 4th July) - think, ‘Happy Birthday’, to my beautiful daughter, Sarah! After that Mirror Imaging is into a run of photoshoots and weddings on five consecutive weekends that will keep us both busy until the end of September. So with that in mind, I really wanted to make an extra special summer birthday ‘cake’ for Sarah, not only to celebrate her birthday but also the last of our leisurely weekends for the foreseeable future!
Today, I am so excited to be able to bring something completely new to the party - a delicious summer fruit tart made with tiger nut pastry. “Tiger, erm what?”…I hear you say!
Q. When is a nut not a nut? A. When it’s a tiger nut!
Tiger nuts, also known as ‘earth almonds’ and in Spain, ‘chufas’, are the sweet, brown, nutty, ‘super’ tubers of the sedge plant (a stubborn, weed-like grass), which is grown and harvested like potatoes. And, they are incredibly good for you.
Truly Primal/Paleo (our early human ancestors used to forage and feast on this nutrient dense wonder food), tiger nuts have a nutritional profile that really holds its own against red meat, olive oil and even human breast milk. In fact, tigernut milk (recipe for Spanish style ‘Horchata de Chufas' coming soon) is the healthiest substitute for dairy milk because it is rich in monounsaturated fat and does not contain inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids like other nut milks do. Tiger nuts are also full of dietary fibre, particularly resistant starch, are high in minerals (magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and iron) and Vitamins C and E. Sounds to me like the under-utilised tiger nut might well be the answer to 795 million people around the world still struggling with hunger and malnutrition!
And, in modern society, where people are often overfed and under-nourished, research suggests that tiger nuts can help reverse or stop the progression of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, circulatory problems, digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases and some cancers, including colon cancer.
I’ve only just re-discovered tiger nuts (they were sold as sweets when I was little) as part of my ongoing search for grain-free, gluten-free and now nut and allergy-free alternatives to grain flours. To say I’m chuffed with the way my chufa pastry lined Summer Berry & Lemon Cream Tigernut Tart worked out, is an understatement! This new kid on the block for lovers of Primal/Paleo treats, ticks all the boxes for healthy, nutritious food that makes you glad to be alive - indeed a little bit smug - because who would guess that this gorgeous Summer Berry & Lemon Cream Tigernut Tart would be entirely compatible with a low-carb, refined sugar-free diet?
When cooked, this tigernut pastry has more the taste and texture of a biscuit cheesecake base than it does shortcrust pastry per se, but I like this. As pastry goes, it’s very user friendly. It rolls out like pâte sucrée (French name for sweet shortcrust pastry) and was incredibly well behaved when I lined the flan case - although a chunk fell off one edge when I lifted my rolled pastry disk off the work surface, it was easy to patch up and press everything back together again with my fingers, once it was in the tin.
Best of all, because tiger nuts are naturally sweet, you don’t need to add sugar or other sweeteners. I’ve been wanting to devise a recipe for Primal cheesecake for some time, so when I do I’m certain this recipe will double-up, adapting itself to both sweet tarts and cheesecakes beautifully.
Meanwhile, I hope you’ll make the most of summer’s juiciest berry-fruits in this exceptionally lovely looking tart - I think summer celebrations will be the sweeter for it.
Summer Berry & Lemon Cream Tigernut Tart (Serves 10)
Ingredients - for tiger nut pastry
225g tiger nut flour (available online from The Tiger Nut Company)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pure vanilla essence
30g unsalted butter, melted
1 large organic egg, beaten
a little extra melted butter (about 5g), for greasing
Instructions - to make the pastry case
Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4.
Grease the base and sides of an 8 inch loose-bottomed fluted flan tin with melted butter.
Combine the tiger nut flour, baking powder and vanilla essence in a bowl.
Mix in the melted butter, then add the beaten egg and stir with a fork to combine.
When roughly combined, abandon the fork and bring the mixture together with your hand to achieve a firm but moist dough.
Roll out to a round thickness of 3mm-6mm between two sheets of plastic cling film (to avoid the dough sticking to your worktop or rolling pin). As you roll, turn regularly to achieve an even round shape that is approximately 2½cm/1” larger than the circumference of your tart tin (this allows for the sides of the tart).
Carefully peel off the top layer of cling film, then loosely wrap the pastry around your rolling pin removing the bottom layer of cling film as you do, then using the rolling pin to support the pastry, lift it one piece directly into the tart tin. If it splits or breaks in transition (mine did!), don’t worry, just patch it back together by pressing it firmly and evenly into the base and up the sides of the tin with your hands. N.B. Since tiger nut flour is gluten-free it’s easier to handle than normal shortcrust pastry, because it doesn't get harder and tougher if you need to re-work it. Once it’s settled in the tart tin in an even thickness, trim any raggedy bits of pastry off the top edge by going around with a sharp knife (chef’s privilege to eat these pastry off-cuts raw!)
Prick the base of the tart all over with the prongs of a fork.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Leave to cool completely in the tin before transferring to a serving plate.
Ingredients - for lemon cream filling
150ml Primal Lemon Curd
150ml Crème Fraîche (I used Roddas)
150ml Double Cream
Instructions - to make the lemon cream filling
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until the mixture thickens and will stand in soft peaks.
Cover and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble your tart.
Ingredients - for fruit topping
250g fresh strawberries, picked over and cleaned as necessary
175g fresh raspberries
100g fresh blueberries
A few sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm, to decorate
Instructions - to assemble the tart
Not more than an hour before serving the tart, place the pastry case onto a serving plate.
Spoon the lemon cream filling into the tart case and spread out evenly.
Arrange the fruit attractively on top of the lemon cream filling, then garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm.
Although this tart looks like ‘fancy-pants’ French patisserie, please do not be intimidated by the recipe. Rolling out the pastry and lining the tart tin is the only challenge - and only then for the novice cook. Everything else is quick and easy to do - including making the pastry and assembling the tart. If you need to, just follow the photographs for how to arrange the fruit topping.
I suggest you make a batch of yummy Primal Lemon Curd up to several days in advance (in readiness for the lemon cream filling) and store (hide!) in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble your tart.
I like the visual treat of using several different types of summer berries as the topping for this tart - and the particular selection I’ve chosen all marry well with the lemon cream filling. However, just one type of fruit (blackberries, cherries, sliced peaches, apricots, etc.), or any combination you like, will work. Just select the sweetest, juiciest and most visually appealing fruit you can find.
Refrigerated in an airtight container, this tart still eats really well the next day.
Carbohydrate 26g Protein 5g - per serving