Saturday, October 22, 2011
Everywhere you look around our neighbourhood at the moment you see laden mulberry bushes, branches hanging low with the weigh of their load and the ground littered with berries no one has picked. Coming from New Zealand where I've never even seen a mulberry bush it's quite a sight, and somewhat heartbreaking at the same time. I hate seeing food go to waste.
It's true the mulberry doesn't have the sweetness of a strawberry, nor the tartness of a raspberry. The flavour is no where near as intense as a ripe blackberry, but it still holds it's own as far as delicious berries goes and I don't get why it's not eaten more often? They grow on bushes that I'd actually be more inclined to call a tree. Some are relatively small, around 3 metres tall, while other monster trees tower at around 8 metres high. The long berries hang down in clumps and a little stalk remains on the berry as you pull it free from the branch.
We've been keeping an eye out for trees we might be able to pick from, Si's even knocked on a few doors to ask, but no ones been home. The other day he took Kye for a walk to our local park and went on a little bit of a foraging mission, coming home with huge berry grins and purple stained shoes. They had found the perfect tree only a few streets from our house, a monster one overhanging a fence with berries dropping everywhere just going to waste. So we made plans to return that afternoon after the kids had had a nap. This tree is amazing, from the outside it seems to only have a light sprinkling of berries, but as you scramble under the canopy and look up it becomes apparent just how many berries it holds!
Si and I picked as the kids stuffed their faces, bright purple juice running down our hands and cheeks, legs, arms... I'd say we picked a good 2-3 kilos and ate nearly as many. Like most berries, they don't keep very well at all, so once we got home I immediately froze all the really ripe ones in a single layer, packing them free-flow into bags the next day. The kids gorged themselves on bowlfuls, I stewed a few handfuls with a little honey and water to serve over thick yoghurt for breakfast and whipped up a batch of these tarts for afternoon tea.
Buttery, sweet and tender this classic frangipane mixture is the perfect base for the slightly tart berries and citrus burst from orange zest. I've used mulberries here, but of course any berry would do. In summertime you can use sliced plums, apricots or peaches or in autumn use sliced pears, figs or apple.
gluten-free mulberry, orange + almond tarts
If you don't have access to a mulberry tree (!) feel free to use any other berry you like, fresh or frozen. Or substitute with any other seasonal fruit of your choice. Feel free to use lemon zest in place of orange if preferred too. And remember I use New Zealand tablespoon measurements (15ml), so Australian readers take note, Australian tablespoons are 20ml.
- 110g soft butter
- 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar or pure icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup (110g) almond meal (ground almonds)
- 3 tablespoons (30g) fine brown rice flour
- the zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup fresh mulberries, stems removed + extra to garnish
- pure icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Grease 4 12cm loose-based tart cases and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add almond meal and fine brown rice flour and orange zest, beat until smooth. Spoon the mixture into tart cases, smooth the tops and scatter with mulberries, gently pressing the berries into the mixture a little. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool in tins 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and top with extra berries to serve. Will store airtight for 2-3 days.
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