Davina’s Maple & Pecan Tarts

Serves 4

These are a sort of cross between trad English treacle tart and American pecan pie ─ something dear to my husband’s heart. A bit naughty but there’s no table sugar, just maple syrup. You have to bake the pastry cases before adding the filling so you’ll need baking beans to hold the pastry down so it doesn’t puff up. You can buy ceramic ones but ordinary dried beans work just as well.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 200ml maple syrup
  • 50g butter
  • juice and grated zest of 12 orange
  • 50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 50g pecan nuts, finely chopped

Pastry

  • 200g wholemeal spelt flour, plus extra for dusting the work surface
  • pinch of salt
  • 110g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1─2 tbsp cold water

Instructions

  1. To make the pastry, put the flour and salt in a bowl or a food processor. Add the butter and either rub it in with your fingertips or blitz it until the mixture is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of the water and mix together. If the dough is too crumbly, add a little more water. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour. If you are in a hurry, chill the dough in the freezer for 10─15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. Divide the pastry into 4 balls. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the balls out into rounds to fit your tins. Line the tartlet tins with the pastry, then pierce the bases all over with a fork. Cover each pastry case with a circle of baking parchment, scatter in some baking beans, then chill for 10 minutes in the freezer.
  3. Put the tins on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, then bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and light brown in colour. When cool, trim the edges of the pastry if necessary.
  4. To make the filling, melt the maple syrup and butter together in a saucepan. Add the orange juice and zest, then stir in the breadcrumbs and pecans. Divide the filling between the pastry cases, then bake the tarts in the oven for 15─20 minutes, until golden brown. The tops will be puffed up and feel very soft when you remove the tarts from the oven, but don’t worry, they will firm up as they cool.
  5. Serve warm with custard or cold with creme fraiche.

Davina’s tip – These look pretty scattered with some extra orange zest before serving.