Squash tart

• Ingredients: For a 22 cm diametre and 3.5 cm high (minimum) mould: One sweet or shortcrust pastry base – I prefer sweet pastry, which is the one I have used; 425 g. mashed squash; 400 g condensed milk; 2 large eggs; 1 tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp ginger; 1⁄4 to tsp ground nutmeg; 1⁄2 tsp Jamaica pepper; 1 pinch ground clover (optional); 1⁄2 tsp salt.

• Preparation: Preparing the squash mash: This can be done either by boiling (in water or steam) or baking. Personally I prefer baking as boiling makes it very watery and requires careful squeezing and draining for a long time until excess liquid is eliminated. Cut the squash, removing the seeds (which can be afterwards toasted and eaten as the well- known sunflower seeds) and fibrous bits. The portions should not be too small. If the squash is small, just cut it in half. Place in an oven tray with the skin facing downwards and bake in a preheated fairly cool oven (165 oC) for about an hour, until soft. It should not be toasted or burned as this would give it a different taste, it should just bake slowly until the pulp is and easily mashed with a fork. You may cover it with tinfoil in order to stop it burning. Once cooked, scrape off the skin and mash the pulp, making sure the resulting puré is smooth. Put through a sieve to remove excess liquid. Reserve until use (it may be kept in the freezer – or so I have been told, I have never tried it myself). Prepare the pastry according to recipe and, once ready, keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before use. Roll out the pastry between two freeze bags or sheets of greaseproof paper, otherwise it will stick. Line the 22 cm mould to a height of about 3.5 cm. Prick it with a fork to stop it raising. There is no need to pre-bake the pastry as it will cook for almost one hour. Keep in the refrigerator until use. Preheat the oven to some 210 oC. In a large bowl mix the squash mash with the condensed milk, spices and salt. This mixing should be done very gently to avoid air getting whisked in and cracking the pastry during the baking process. Carefully mix in the eggs one at a time. Pour the mixture into the lined mould and stick in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

Power the heat if it is swelling too fast, as the idea is for it to cook through slowly. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 170 oC to allow the filling to cook through. It should bake for a further 40 minutes. Check by pricking with a knife. During cooking, try not to open the oven as this would lower the temperature. When ready, turn off the oven leaving the tray inside until the temperature has gone down gradually. Wait until it has cooled completely before serving accompanied by double cream or ice cream.

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