I was enjoying a Manchester Tart when I wondered if there was such a thing as a Liverpool Tart. A quick search produced thousands of mentions, unfortunately all about brassy young ladies! When I tried again, this time searching for "Liverpool Tart recipe", there was just the one hit on the whole of Google.
The people of Evershot, a village in Dorset, decided to have a village website and asked around for suitable entries. One gentleman offered his family's handwritten recipe book from 1897, and there it was - the Liverpool Tart. It reads a bit strangely today, and needs some interpretation.
- Put the butter and sugar into a moderate oven to melt. When melted, let it cool.
- Boil your lemon whole very slowly (or it will break) until quite soft.
- Mince it whole as it is, saving the juice as much as possible and taking out the pips.
- Beat the egg well. Mix all well together. Line a flat open tart dish with good paste, and pour in the mixture to one uniform thickness (about 1?2 an inch), cross bar over and bake.
Although few bakeries keep it on sale as a regular "line", the tart is reasonably well known in the Liverpool area these days.
Serve hot or cold.
What do you make of that? Moist sugar? Surely something dark, with a treacly taste. Discarding liquids such as treacle and molasses, I tried some dark sugars and settled on dark muscovado.
Paste? It seems this is the old term for "pastry".
Boil your lemon? When did you last boil a lemon? I just put it in the blender (minus pips!).
Mince very fine? When I did not, it had an extra element of texture.
Open tart dish? I settled on those "four yorkshire pudding" trays. Easier to serve etc.
Cross bar over? What your Granny did with twisted pastry strips. Lattice!
Decoration? The tart is dark, with a fringe of pastry, and crying out for something imaginative.
For a tart of Liverpool, this surely had to involve the Liver Bird, the icon of this city. I experimented by bending an "egg ring" into a vaguely birdlike shape, and used sugarpaste. This
looked good, but the whole tart was then far too sweet, and the treacle and lemon taste diminished.
The best answer came from a professional cakemaker, who obtained a Liver Bird shape. This was rested over the tart, fine biscuitcrumb shaken over it, and, voila! A pale bird on the dark tart.
Other suggestions have included the Superlambanana, the White Star of the Cunard Line, and the Everton Tower (but this did not work). Although few bakeries keep it on sale as a regular line, the tart is reasonably well known in the Liverpool area these days. Sadly though, its most recent mention has been in a celebrity cookery contest, where somebody made it using white granulated sugar - totally out of keeping with the original recipe.
Please; try it yourself (both ways if you like), and I think you will agree, it is a delightful tart, with a taste all of its own.