This is the season for ripe blackberries and bored children on summer holidays, so I decided to bring the two together yesterday to make some easy and delicious berry tarts. The result was an excellent day of foraging, playing, cooking and eating. Way more fun than a soft play centre, more delicious than a plain old sandwich. I can highly recommend it.
We started by picking our blackberries. Ruskin Park in Camberwell is our local and it is chock full of blackberry bushes, especially near the railway line. I’m sure there are plenty more all around the UK. Make sure everyone is wearing closed-toe shoes; we had a few prickled toes. And only pick the ripest blackberries, they will fall off into your hand. We also found a few raspberries and mulberries. Make sure you wash them all really well before you eat them.
Buy a few other berries to sweeten the mix, in case your blackberries are a little tart. I added some shop-bought raspberries and strawberries. I used Selina’s elderflower cordial – also foraged in South London! – in the icing mixture, but you could also use vanilla essence. The baking bit is really very simple, even I can do it, and I’m a really rubbish cook! Every step of this is super easy so kids of any age can help. I had a two-year-old sous chef.
I made two different versions. First I cut the pastry into little circles to make individual tarts. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if they would work, so I also made a back-up one using a whole sheet of pastry to make a really big tart. But to my surprise, they both worked! That never happens to me!
Makes 1 large tart, or 12 small ones (about 10cm in diameter)
A few handfuls of wild blackberries
Strawberries and/or raspberries to add to the berry mix
1 roll of ready-rolled puff pastry
280g Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 cup of icing sugar, plus a bit more for dusting
1/2 tsp elderflower cordial or vanilla essence
To make the pastry cases:
1. Unroll your pastry.
2. If you’re making individual tarts, use a wide-rimmed glass – or cookie cutter if you have one – to cut out large circles of pastry.
3. Use a glass with a smaller diameter, like a champagne flute or a highball glass, to score a smaller circle inside the larger one – don’t cut all the way through. Then use a fork to prick holes in the middle circle. This will stop the pastry from puffing up in the middle and will create a little basin shape to put your fillings in. You can re-roll the excess pastry to make a few more.
To make the filling:
1. Whisk together the cream cheese, icing sugar and elderflower cordial (or vanilla essence). Taste it as you go to make sure it’s sweet enough for you.
Photography & styling: Emma Scott-child
Thanks to Elliot, Frida, Lotte and my mum and dad for helping to forage.