This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart makes a lovely festive lunch. The richness of the stilton and woodsy notes of the chestnuts are sharpened with the zesty cranberry sauce.
The holiday baking starts here. I hadn’t meant to leave it over two weeks in between posts but I have been working on the market stall every weekend for the past few weeks, doing winter fairs and my usual spot at Tottenham Green Market and it’s left little room for anything else. It’s been the best ever season for my stall which I finally transitioned to be 100% gluten-free in October and I have had a brilliant response from it. I am still working on tweaking the recipe for a few of my more popular wheat cakes to taste just as good in their gluten-free form so any spare half hour I have I am flinging cakes in the oven. There is a lot of half eaten cake in our house at the moment.
I hadn’t even really thought how turning my stall gluten-free would affect my preserves and it was only when looking at my ingredients list that I noticed cheeky gluten hiding in a few of my recipes. The ale in my Boxing Day Ale Chutney has now been swapped for a gluten-free variety, the flour in my Piccalilli has been substituted for cornflour and tapioca starch but doom fell upon my kitchen during the curse-laden end of my Traditional Mincemeat prep. I was ding donging merrily on high along with spotify, happily pouring in boxes of suet to all the other ingredients, when what to my wandering eyes should appear but a treacherous coating of flour on each individual strand of suet. It was way too late by then to salvage the situation so instead of tossing the lot which I couldn’t bring myself to do I now have one thing on my stall that isn’t gluten-free. I still have a lot of love for it despite its tainted status as it’s a pretty fantastic mincemeat, made with real beef along with the suet. Not a veggie fantasy. I am also soothed by the fact that my Cranberry and Cointreau Mincemeat is naturally gluten-free so ingredient intolerant customers do not have to go without.
One of my favourite preserves at this time of year though is the ubiquitous cranberry sauce and once you have tried a homemade version you will be convinced, like me, to eat it all year round. I make loads of jars of it at the end of November when the supermarkets just begin to stock up and from then on I am pretty much game to serve cranberry sauce with anything. This Stilton, Chestnut and Cranberry Tart though is where the cranberry sauce really shines. It pairs so well with the stilton and chestnut that you really don’t need to look any further if you are wondering what to do with the rest of your jar after the turkey has been eaten.
My mum, who hates stilton, took an extra slice home with her after visiting this weekend. Luke, who always claims he hates quichey things, was thrilled when I made the tart two days running for supper. Cole though made it clear that he preferred the tart when he was eating it from our plates rather than his, so you might want to take his feedback into consideration when serving it out. Also, if you eat the tart straight out of the oven then you get that melty cheese factor which is so good. By letting it rest out of the oven for a couple of hours the tart will firm up so it’s a bit more stable if you like it that way or if you need to transport it anywhere.
I have wanted to experiment with gluten-free pastry for a while now but had heard so many crumbly, dry or soggy horror stories that I have been putting it off. However, my happy experiences with the recipes in Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s Alternative Baker encouraged me to give her pastry a go as well. I changed things a little as I wanted to make a savoury tart rather than a sweet tart but I mostly followed her instruction for her buckwheat flaky pastry and I have to say that the pastry tasted great on the very first go. Both the texture with the flaky snap of the tart case, and the buttery taste which is made more complex by the variety of flours, including one of my faves, buckwheat, has left me thoroughly satisfied that this can be my new go-to pastry.
I have since made this tart a few times and except for an extra two minutes to sift the different flours together, this pastry comes together just as quickly as my normal wheat flour version. In fact quicker as you don’t need to work the pastry as much or bother with chilling it every time you go near it as the gluten doesn’t need to rest.
I am really enjoying my gluten-free experiments these days, it is forcing me to try new things and think about my ingredients in a different way rather than relying on the dominance of wheat flour. It makes every little success in the kitchen that bit more rewarding as careful thought has been put into every ingredient. I know I am opening up my recipes to a wider audience and it doesn’t hurt that I can now eat everything on my stall, give or take a mincemeat.