Walnut tart is a classic in south-west France, especially the Dordogne. Recently some visitors arrived from the Lot with a big bag of freshly gathered walnuts, so I had to try making it. It looks a bit odd, but it’s delicious, like a very sophisticated version of treacle tart. I used the recipe from Geraldene Holt’s lovely book of traditional French cuisine, French Country Kitchen, which is no longer a neglected cookbook.
It’s well worth making the pastry with orange juice; it adds an extra zing. In light of this, I substituted Cointreau for the rum Geraldene uses in her filling, and that was a good idea too. Pro tip: it takes ages to shell enough fresh walnuts for this, but listen to something nice on the radio while you do it
170 g plain flour
30 g caster sugar
85 g butter
grated rind and juice of half a large orange, or one small one
1 egg yolk
85 g butter at room temperature
85 g brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbs Cointreau or rum
170 g shelled walnuts, very roughly chopped
To make the pastry, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the grated orange zest and use the egg yolk and orange juice to mix to a dough. Chill in the fridge for half an hour or so, then use it to line a 24 cm tart tin.
Preheat the oven to 180C; prick the base of the pastry with a fork, line with baking parchment, and weigh it down with dried beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove paper and beans and bake for another five minutes till lightly coloured.
Cream together the butter and sugar for the filling until fluffy. Then whisk in the beaten egg followed by the Cointreau. This mixture does like to curdle so it’s best to use an electric whisk. Fold in the roughly chopped walnuts, spread in the pastry case, and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes, until the filling is set and golden on top. Leave to cool and serve with Greek yoghurt, crème fraîche, or ice cream.
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