I had a request recently to make Manchester Tart. This is a dessert that was often served at part of our school dinners when I was a child. It was common all over the country it seems, probably because it is simple to make, cheap to make and tastes very good.
Manchester Tart is made of a pastry base, a layer of raspberry jam, a layer of custard and then topped with desiccated coconut. An additional layer of coconut, on top on the raspberry jam gives the opportunity to increase the amount of coconut. I have included that in my version. There have been examples of this tart with bananas sliced into the custard, which I don’t include in my recipe. That is mainly because I have memories of bananas and custard as a child and didn’t enjoy it much.
There are a couple of considerations when making this tart. Firstly whether to make your own shortcrust pastry or to use ready rolled shortcrust pastry from a store. That is readily available in the UK, and if you can buy the ‘all butter’ version it would be very good. For my tart I made my own shortcrust pastry, but just remember that you can skip that step if you wish, and buy the ready rolled type.
The second consideration is the custard. Although I usually prefer custard made from eggs I am fairly sure that the school dinners version would never have made it like that. Custard Powder would have been a quicker and much cheaper way of making the custard, so that is what I used for my tart.
I should also say that some versions of this had a glace cherry on top but I didn’t bother with that for mine.
I think my tart turned out very well and certainly evoked memories of school dinners so many years ago. It tasted so good and I thoroughly enjoyed making it.
For the shortcrust pastry(if making your own)
- 300g(2 cups + 3 1/2 tbsp) plain flour
- 25g(3 tbsp)icing sugar
- 150g(1 stick + 2 12 tbsp) cold butter, cubed
- 2 medium egg yolks(large in USA)
- a little ice cold water, if needed
For the custard and filling:
- 568ml(1 imperial pint or 1 US pint + 6 tbsp) whole milk
- 60g(3 1/2 tbsp) custard powder
- 50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp raspberry jam
- 30g(5tbsp) desiccated coconut
- Place the flour, icing sugar and butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it reaches a breadcrumb-like texture. If preferred do this in a large bowl and rub between your fingers.
- Add the egg yolks and process again until the mixture begins to clump, adding a little water a teaspoon at a time if it is needed to help the clumping.
- Tip the dough out onto a work surface and gently knead into a dough ball.
- Flatten to a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/350F.
- Grease a 9in/23 cm tart pan, preferably with a loose bottom, and prepare some parchment paper to use for blind baking. Also get some baking beans ready to use(or you can use rice).
- Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 in/5mm.
- Gently lift the dough, using the rolling pin to roll it on to.
- Place the dough into the tart tin and gently press into the sides. If there are any cracks you can just patch them with overhanging dough.
- Cut off the excess, leaving a small overhang.
- Prick the base of the pastry dough all over with a fork.
- Place the parchment paper into the pastry and fill with baking beans.
- Bake the pastry in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and take out the baking beans and parchment paper. Then return the pastry to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Place the custard powder, icing sugar and about 3 tbsp of milk into a saucepan and stir into a thick paste.
- Add the remaining milk and the vanilla extract and stir to mix into the paste.
- Place the pan on a medium heat and bring to the boil stirring the whole time.
- Continue to cook and stir until the custard has thickened well.
- Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.
- Cover the custard with plastic wrap, pushed down onto the surface to prevent a film forming.
- When the pastry base has cooled completely spread 3 tbsp raspberry jam over the surface.
- Sprinkle half the desiccated coconut on top.
- Carefully spoon the cooled custard on top of the raspberry and coconut and spread to cover the entire tart base, forming a level top surface.
- Sprinkle the remaining coconut all over the surface and very gently press down with a spatula of the back of a spoon, to make it stick.
- Place in the fridge if you wish to help the custard firm up more before serving.