This tart is something that I grew up with. It was an occasional Saturday treat. One of us would be sent after lunch to get in the queue of the bakery that made the best ones in the area. Once the bag of the warm tarts had been bought, then it was a ten minute, or less if you could, run home before they cooled too much.
They are a baked cheesecake very much in the eastern European style and have been made in Yorkshire for a very long time, the first published recipe dating from 1741. I have not come across another cheesecake type tart that is native to the UK and why this one crops up in Yorkshire is a mystery. If any of you know of any other then do please let me know. It could even date back to when the Romans were in Yorkshire, some of the older recipes include washing the butter in rosewater, which was a favourite flavouring of the romans, and it is very similar to the sweet ricotta and lemon tarts still made in Italy today.
There quite a few variations of this tart and I sampled some while back in Yorkshire recently. Many use short crust pastry, sometimes enriched with ground almonds, and many have a cheese filling that is less rich and drier than in my favourite version. The tart that I remember from childhood was made with flaky pastry and was very buttery – maybe more calories that other versions – but if you are worried about that make small ones but good ones and ration yourself – if you can.
For the cheese the ideal is fresh curd cheese made from cows milk, it has a good acidity to it that offsets the sweetness of the sugar, but you can use a fresh ricotta or any fresh sheep or goat cheese. Avoid using cottage cheese, it is too sweet and watery. For my readers in Spain, I find that the Queso Fresco that is packed in plastic containers in the supermarket tastes of the plastic, so I prefer to buy the cheese from the deli counters at the market or from the butchers. I have been using the fresh goat cheese that my neighbour Maria makes and is available from the farm shop, and that works perfectly.
Any size of tart works, the tart tins just need to be shallow whether you are making a large one for a dessert or baby ones to have with your coffee.
YORKSHIRE CURD TART
250 gram pack ready made flaky pastry or make your own
250 grams curd cheese
75 grams butter
75 grams sugar
2 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
50 grams currants or raisins
Start by creaming the butter and sugar together in the food processor until light and creamy.
Add the cheese cut up into cubes and pulse to mix. You don’t want the cheese to become a total puree and lose its texture.
Add the lemon zest and the eggs and pulse to combine.
Finally add the fruit and again pulse to combine.
Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin or tins. Prick the base with a fork. Fill with the cheese mix.
Bake at 180 Centigrade for about 40 minutes until golden brown.