Manchester Tart – School Dinner Favourite

5/5 - (1 vote)

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.

Manchester Tart
Manchester Tart – Video

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a work surface and gently knead into a dough ball.
  4. Flatten to a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/350F.
  6. 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).
  7. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 in/5mm.
  8. Gently lift the dough, using the rolling pin to roll it on to.
  9. 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.
  10. Cut off the excess, leaving a small overhang.
  11. Prick the base of the pastry dough all over with a fork.
  12. Place the parchment paper into the pastry and fill with baking beans.
  13. Bake the pastry in the oven for 15 minutes.
  14. 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.
  15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  16. Place the custard powder, caster sugar and about 3 tbsp of milk into a saucepan and stir into a thick paste.
  17. Add the remaining milk and the vanilla extract and stir to mix into the paste.
  18. Place the pan on a medium heat and bring to the boil stirring the whole time.
  19. Continue to cook and stir until the custard has thickened well.
  20. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.
  21. Cover the custard with plastic wrap, pushed down onto the surface to prevent a film forming.
  22. When the pastry base has cooled completely spread 3 tbsp raspberry jam over the surface.
  23. Sprinkle half the desiccated coconut on top.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Place in the fridge if you wish to help the custard firm up more before serving.


  1. Hi, may I just mention that in the list of ingredients it says caster sugar but in the preparation it says icing sugar, is that meant to say caster as well? Thank you and I too loved this at school and later years when I lived in the Staffordshire area, sadly we cannot get it in Cornwall 😞

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *