Messy Tart

The Little Grower's Cookbook:

Messy Tart

This free-form tart works with all sorts of seasonal fruit combinations: peach, pear or plum slices, raspberries, stoned cherries or, as below, rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries. Pretty much anything goes, so either mix it up to your liking or stick to just one fruit. Just remember that some fruits take longer to cook than others, so adjust the size of the pieces accordingly – raw apple will take longer to soften than raspberries, so the apples should be thinly sliced. It’s best to assemble the tart right before baking to prevent a soggy bottom. However, you could make and even roll out the pastry and prepare the fruit earlier in the day.

Serves 6 


For the pastry

180g plain flour or a mix of half spelt and half plain flour

1 tablespoon caster sugar

120g cold butter, cubed

110g full fat cream cheese

2 tablespoons iced water

For the filling

200g rhubarb, cut into inch-long pieces

275g strawberries, leafy tops removed, and halved

100g blueberries

1 tablespoon cornflour (or 2 level teaspoons for non-juicy fruits such as rhubarb, stone or orchard fruits)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or the scraped seeds from half a vanilla pod

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons ground almonds

1 heaped tablespoon flaked almonds

1 small egg, beaten


Put the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt into a food processor and whizz for 5 seconds. Add the butter and spoonfuls of cream cheese. 

Pulse for 10 seconds or until it looks like crumbs. Add the water and pulse until it forms a dough. Pour onto a large piece of non PVC cling film and press into a ball. Wrap and freeze for 15 minutes to chill it quickly.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.

Mix together the fruit, cornflour and vanilla and set aside.

Put a large piece of baking paper onto the work surface, then sprinkle with the flour. Unwrap the pastry and put into the centre of paper. Sprinkle a little flour over the pastry and roll out to a large thin circle 5–7mm thick. Move the pastry and its paper onto a flat baking tray. Spoon the ground almonds onto the pastry and spread out until about 5cm from the edge. Heap the fruit on top of the almonds. 

With the aid of the baking paper, pull up the sides of the pastry to hug the fruit and stop it falling out. Don’t worry if the pastry has to fold over itself. Brush the pastry with beaten egg then stick the flaked almonds to it, patting them on with your fingers. 

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is brown and cooked all the way through. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or custard.

Extracted from: The Little Grower’s Cookbook

by Ghillie James & Julia Parker

(Lettuce Publishing)

4th March 21, £20 Hardback,

Photography by Ali Allen