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The easiest thing in the world is to make a tart base and then you can go wild with fruity fillings as Summer generously supplies a range of delicious and attractive fruits. You can combine fresh and canned; homemade poached fruits; sauces made from the syrup; and then go mad with the extras like chopped nuts; grated chocolate; sliced glace fruit; and of course, creamy custards and whipped cream. If you do milk products, the range is huge but even as a vegan you can enjoy creamy plant-based toppings.

First the easy-as-pie basic tart base, then a feast of options and combinations to create delicious sweet treats.

Easy Tart Base Prep

When you have nothing to do, put a kilogram of rolled oats in a bowl and rub in some coconut oil. Spread it out on a flat baking sheet and toast the oats in the oven at 140 o C until they are pale golden, turning them now and again. When cool, pulse half the kg in a grinder/blender to make rough oat flour, combine with the whole oats and store in a large well-sealed jar. This is your tart base staple.

Easy Tart Base

To 2 ½ cups of the oats mix, add 3 tablespoons or either melted butter or melted coconut oil. Rub in well and press down firmly into an oven-proof tart dish, letting the base come halfway up the sides. Place in a pre-heated oven (160 o C) until golden brown - around 15 minutes. If you are making a warm dessert, you can fill it straightaway and serve, otherwise let it cool down, wrap the whole lot in cling wrap and use within three days.

The Apricot Jam Trick

Simply heat some fine apricot jam in a little saucepan until it is warm, then spread a thin layer over the tart base. This adds sweetness and helps seal the base.

Quick-Sticks Option

Drain a can of yellow cling peach slices, or pineapple chunks and reserve the syrup. For extra good measure, lay the canned fruit out on a large, flat plate and pat with kitchen towels to absorb any extra moisture. Now arrange the fruit on your tart base. By adding water, bring the syrup up to 1 cup of liquid then heat in a small saucepan. Add 3 heaped teaspoons of cornflour to enough cold water to dissolve, then add the mixture to the syrup, lowering the heat and stirring well for at least 5 minutes. When the ‘sauce’ is nice and thick but still easily pourable, pour over the fruit until half-way up the fruit slices and allow to set. Serve with anything creamy that you like – Orley Whip, fresh cream, custard and so on.

Homemade Preserved Fruits

When making these preserves you can choose a light syrup or a heavy one depending on what suits your taste buds. Start with 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water and progress from there. Let the sugar dissolve in the water and when it starts to bubble, turn the heat down so that it is simmering. The trick to successfully preserving fruit involves knowing how long to cook your prepared fruit: soft fruits like strawberries, blueberries, oranges and grapes are cooked by placing in the hot syrup and immediately removing the pot from the stove with the lid on. Firmer fruits like plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines can be brought to a gentle simmer and then given the same treatment. Fruits like apples, pears and pineapples need up to 15 minutes simmering in the syrup to get the desired result. It’s always a good idea to take the pot off the stove, leave the lid on and so let the fruit complete the cooking process.

Assemble your Tart

Once you have a tart shell, arrange the well-drained preserved fruit in concentric circles. Then finish off with whatever takes your fancy. My current favourite is Tarte a L’orange. Once the lightly poached orange rings have been placed, melt an 80g bar of dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and drizzle over the oranges in a lattice pattern. Then crush walnuts to garnish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve with whipped coconut cream on the side. Too good!

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