Gypsy Tart is a classic Kentish recipe and is talked about with great nostalgia and affection by all of my friends who grew up in that county. Having said that, I lived in Kent for one year as a 7-year old and never had Gypsy Tart once, but we were outsiders; not of true Kentish stock and not accepted as such. At the time, Gypsy Tart remained a mystery from which we were excluded.
As a post-pub food, Gypsy Tart may not seem a natural contender because, if adhering to the traditional recipe, there is a not inconsiderable period of both preparation and cooking time involved; the culinary kiss-of-death for most post-pub dishes. To work as a proper post-pub food, Gypsy Tart requires a bit of Blue Peter, one-I-prepared-earlier, pre-planning.
For those sufficiently sober to still be reading, you will need:
300g of flour
150g of butter
1 tin of evaporated milk
300g of brown sugar
Let’s not overcomplicate things. Combine the flour, butter and egg until you have got an even beige blob of roughly baseball-size proportions and then flatten this until it fills something vaguely pie-shaped. Bake until it’s hard enough to hold its shape, even when dropped on the floor.
So far, so pastry. Now for the Gypsy bit. Mix the evaporated milk and sugar and stir vigorously. When you think that you can stir no more, keep stirring. When you think that you have stirred beyond the limits of human endurance, keep stirring. Discover your inner Kentish gypsy. Keep stirring. When you really, really, really can stir no more, pour the mixture into your pastry base and cook for a further 20 minutes. Transfer to the fridge to cool, and then there it will be when, drunk and uncomprehending, you crash home late from the pub the following evening.
That is the classic recipe for Gypsy Tart, give or take. But, the Beery Sue post-pub recipe is for Deconstructed Gypsy Tart. There is a difference. It is all to do with reality.
Rewind the day. Crashing home from the pub, drunk and uncomprehending, you go to the fridge only to discover that you hadn’t made a Gypsy Tart; you hadn’t done any Blue Peter, one-I-made-earlier, pre-planning the day before; you hadn’t made a pastry base; you hadn’t stirred your evaporated milk and sugar mixture until you could stir no more; you hadn’t discovered your inner Kentish gypsy. In fact, you had done none of these things.
Instead, you look in the fridge and all that you can see is an unopened can of evaporated milk. A lonely reminder of good intentions, tragically unfulfilled. You peel back the lid and drink it down, straight from the can. All in one go.
This is Deconstructed Gypsy Tart.
© Beery Sue
Beery Sue knows the importance of getting back to basics.