Although this tart tastes and looks indulgent the recipe is surprisingly frugal in its ingredients and composition. The Cucina Povera that we hear so much about in Mediterranean cuisine existed here and in England too after the war when food rationing meant that housewives had to be extra inventive to create tasty appealing meals, and this tart is a prime example. You would never think that the filling of this tart is made from stale breadcrumbs and golden syrup, in fact it tastes and has the texture of a fancy frangipane filling. Granted the macadamias are a touch of extravagance, although maybe not so much back then, and if you wish you can always replace them with almonds or hazelnuts but the macadamias do add a lovely richness. This is such an easy tart to make and every time I serve it I get asked for the recipe. You can dress it up for dessert by serving it with ice cream but it’s just lovely on its own with a cup of coffee or tea.
Ingredients Adapted from Ben O’Donoghue
For the Pastry
1⅔ cups (250g) plain flour
100g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks
For the Filling
3¼ cups (225g) fresh breadcrumbs
100g unsalted butter
1¼ cups (440g) golden syrup
Grated zest of 1 orange, plus 3 tablespoons juice
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup (150g) macadamia nuts, halved – you can also use hazelnuts or almonds
For pastry, pulse flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a processor, then whiz until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add sugar and yolks, then whiz until mixture forms a ball (add 1-2 tbs cold water if needed). Knead on a lightly floured surface for 1-2 minutes until smooth, then enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Grease a 24cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Grate chilled pastry over pan and use clean hands to evenly press into base and sides. (Pastry with a high butter content can be hard to work with, and this is an easy method that doesn’t need a rolling pin.) Chill for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove weights and paper, then bake for a further 5-8 minutes or until tart shell is light golden brown and the base is cooked. Set aside.
Meanwhile, stir breadcrumbs, butter, syrup, zest, juice and nutmeg in a pan over low heat until butter is just melted and mixture is combined. (It’ll be slightly loose at first, but the bread will start to thicken mixture.) Tip mixture into the tart shell and arrange nuts, cut-side down, in a concentric pattern on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is firm to touch in centre. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Carefully remove the tart from the pan, then dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.