Tamsin Car­van shares recipes for some de­li­cious treats, from cakes and crum­bles to tarts and scones.

WHEN SPRING AR­RIVES in Tamsin’s gar­den, it her­alds a sea­son of re­growth, but it’s too early for stone fruit and too late for ap­ples and pears. So she turns to her faith­ful rhubarb crowns (“I choose care­fully, look­ing for the shini­est, most lu­mi­nously red stems, which are the most ten­der.”), the last of the lemons and any pump­kins that es­caped win­ter’s soups for mak­ing tarts, crum­bles and scones. Hardy herbs, such as rose­mary and ver­bena, add fra­grant notes to the not-too-sweet cakes, which are her favourite things to eat af­ter a day of gar­den­ing.


Serves 8–10 This tray cake is quick and easy to make, and so sat­is­fy­ing to eat with the tang of the lemon and the lemon ver­bena, and the slight crunch of the po­lenta. Per­fect with a cup of tea in be­tween weed­ing stints in the gar­den. 125g un­salted but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture ⅔ cup raw caster su­gar 2 large eggs 1 egg yolk 100ml but­ter­milk 1 cup self-rais­ing flour, sifted 3½ ta­ble­spoons fine po­lenta 1 lemon, rind finely grated pinch of finely ground sea salt 1 ta­ble­spoon ic­ing su­gar mix­ture, to dust lemon ver­bena sprigs, to dec­o­rate* Greek-style nat­u­ral yo­ghurt, to serve (op­tional) LEMON SYRUP 100ml lemon juice ¼ cup raw caster su­gar 1 freshly picked lemon ver­bena sprig*

Pre­heat oven to 175°C. Grease a 26cm x 22cm lam­ing­ton pan, then line base and sides with bak­ing pa­per. Us­ing an elec­tric mixer fit­ted with a pad­dle at­tach­ment, beat but­ter and su­gar for 3–4 min­utes or un­til pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat­ing well af­ter each ad­di­tion un­til com­bined. Add egg yolk and beat un­til com­bined. Al­ter­nately stir in but­ter­milk and flour un­til well com­bined. Add po­lenta, lemon rind and sea salt, and mix un­til well com­bined. Pour into pre­pared pan and bake for 20–25 min­utes or un­til top of cake feels firm to touch. Mean­while, to make lemon syrup, place lemon juice, su­gar, lemon ver­bena and ½ cup of wa­ter in a small saucepan and stir over a medium heat un­til su­gar dis­solves. In­crease heat to high and bring to boil. Cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 3–4 min­utes or un­til syrup thick­ens. Re­move from heat and dis­card lemon ver­bena. Keep warm. Re­move cake from oven. Us­ing a skewer, poke about 20 holes in top of cake. Spoon warm lemon syrup over hot cake. Set aside to cool slightly. Re­move cake from pan and cut into slices. Dust with ic­ing su­gar and dec­o­rate with lemon ver­bena. Serve warm or at room tem­per­a­ture with yo­ghurt, if de­sired. *A semi-de­cid­u­ous shrub, lemon ver­bena (Aloysia cit­ri­odora) is avail­able at gar­den cen­tres. En­sure leaves haven’t been treated with sprays. >


Serves 8–10 This recipe is based on one by Diana Henry, which in turn is based on a Jane Grig­son clas­sic, which is based on a tra­di­tional Ital­ian cake… maybe you can add your own twist! To me, the im­por­tant things are the qual­ity of the sour­dough, adding re­ally fresh rose­mary, and us­ing juicier, more fra­grant Meyer lemons. 100g raw al­monds 75g good-qual­ity fresh sour­dough, lightly toasted, then torn into pieces 2 ta­ble­spoons (or more to taste) very fresh rose­mary leaves 260g caster su­gar 2 large Meyer lemons* 4 eggs 100ml but­ter­milk 100ml ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der 1 large fresh rose­mary sprig ex­tra rose­mary sprigs, to gar­nish rose gera­nium, rose­mary or other ed­i­ble flow­ers, to gar­nish (op­tional)** Greek-style nat­u­ral yo­ghurt, to serve

Pre­heat oven to 175°C. Grease a 23cm round spring­form pan and line with bak­ing pa­per. Place al­monds, cooled sour­dough and rose­mary leaves in a blender or food pro­ces­sor, and process un­til mix­ture re­sem­bles fine bread­crumbs. Place 200g of caster su­gar in a large bowl. Finely grate rind of 1 lemon. Rub lemon rind into caster su­gar un­til (in the words of my friend Ju­lia Busuttil who showed me this tech­nique) su­gar is “damp and fra­grant”. Add eggs and whisk un­til well com­bined. Add but­ter­milk and whisk un­til com­bined. Add olive oil and whisk un­til well com­bined. Add al­mond mix­ture and whisk un­til com­bined. Add bak­ing pow­der and whisk un­til well com­bined. Pour mix­ture into pre­pared pan (it will be sloppy). Bake for 30 min­utes or un­til cake be­gins to pull away from edge of pan and a skewer in­serted into cen­tre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 min­utes. While cake is cook­ing, juice lemons (you need about 100ml of juice). Place lemon juice, rose­mary sprig, ½ cup of wa­ter and re­main­ing su­gar in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat un­til su­gar dis­solves. Re­duce heat to low and sim­mer for 15 min­utes or un­til cake is al­most cooked. In­crease heat to high and boil for 5 min­utes or un­til re­duced by half (you need ½ cup–2⁄3 cup syrup). Strain lemon syrup into a heat­proof jug. Re­move cake from pan and trans­fer to a serv­ing plate. Us­ing a skewer, poke 10–15 holes in top of cake. Spoon hot syrup over hot cake. If pos­si­ble, set aside for 1–2 hours to al­low syrup to ab­sorb. Gar­nish cake with ex­tra rose­mary sprigs and ed­i­ble flow­ers, if de­sired. Cut into slices and serve with yo­ghurt. *Avail­able at spe­cialty green­gro­cers and farm­ers’ mar­kets. Sub­sti­tute reg­u­lar lemons. **En­sure ed­i­ble flow­ers have not been treated with sprays.


Serves 6–8 (See pho­to­graph, page 82) While this seems like a small amount of star anise, it’s an in­stance where less is more. 500g rhubarb, cut into 10cm lengths 2 star anise pods 100g whole raw al­monds 100g plain flour 100g raw caster su­gar pinch of coarse sea salt 100g un­salted but­ter 2 ta­ble­spoons nat­u­ral maple syrup VANILLA ICE-CREAM 450ml milk 300ml pure cream 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped 150g caster su­gar 4 egg yolks

To make ice-cream, heat milk, cream, and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat un­til al­most sim­mer­ing. Re­move from heat. Mean­while, whisk su­gar and egg yolks in a large heat­proof bowl un­til pale and creamy. Grad­u­ally add hot cream mix­ture, whisk­ing con­stantly un­til well com­bined. Re­move vanilla bean, and quickly wash and dry saucepan. Re­turn mix­ture to clean pan and cook over a medium heat, stir­ring con­stantly with a wooden spoon, for 10 min­utes or un­til cus­tard thick­ens and coats back of spoon. Cool. Churn cus­tard in an ice-cream ma­chine ac­cord­ing to man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions. If you don’t have an ice-cream ma­chine, trans­fer cus­tard to a shal­low metal con­tainer. Cover with foil and freeze for 4 hours or un­til firm. Break up ice-cream with a metal spoon. Trans­fer to a food pro­ces­sor and process un­til smooth. Re-freeze. Re­peat twice more or un­til ice-cream is smooth and creamy. Pre­heat oven to 175°C. Grease a 6-cup ca­pac­ity bak­ing dish. Ar­range rhubarb evenly over base of pre­pared dish. Crack open star anise pods to re­move seeds (you should have 6–8 seeds). Dry-roast seeds in a fry­ing pan over a medium-high heat for 3–4 min­utes or un­til shiny. Us­ing a mor­tar and pes­tle, crush star anise seeds into a paste. Us­ing a mor­tar and pes­tle, crush al­monds into a mix­ture of fine and coarse pieces. Place crushed al­monds in a large bowl with flour, su­gar and salt, then mix to com­bine. Us­ing fin­ger­tips, rub but­ter through al­mond mix­ture un­til evenly dis­trib­uted. Add maple syrup and star anise paste, and mix un­til well com­bined. Spread al­mond mix­ture over rhubarb in bak­ing dish. Bake for 30–40 min­utes or un­til golden. Serve hot rhubarb crum­ble with big scoops of vanilla ice-cream. >


Serves 6 (See pho­to­graph, page 83) Ideally, you want to time your cus­tard to be ready just as the tart shell fin­ishes blind bak­ing, so the hot cus­tard goes into the hot shell — this is how you en­sure a crisp bot­tom on the tart. 1kg rhubarb, cut to width of tart pan 2 ta­ble­spoons caster su­gar 1 orange, rind finely grated, juiced ½ cup toasted pis­ta­chio ker­nels, to serve crème fraîche or dou­ble cream, to serve PAS­TRY 240g plain flour 200g cold un­salted but­ter, chopped gen­er­ous pinch of finely ground sea salt 1 egg yolk 1 ta­ble­spoon very cold wa­ter SAF­FRON CUS­TARD ½ cup pure cream ½ cup caster su­gar 6 egg yolks 2 ta­ble­spoons corn­flour 1½ cups milk large pinch of saf­fron threads To make pas­try, com­bine flour, but­ter and salt on a clean work sur­face. Make a well in cen­tre. Lightly whisk egg yolk and wa­ter in a bowl un­til com­bined, then pour into well in flour mix­ture. Us­ing a fork, gen­tly in­cor­po­rate egg into flour mix­ture. Us­ing heel of your hand, push down and away from you on flour mix­ture to squash but­ter into long strips. Re­peat, gath­er­ing mix­ture back up into a pile every so of­ten, un­til most of but­ter has been pushed into flour. (Do not over­work dough — if lumps of but­ter are still vis­i­ble, that’s a good sign.) Flat­ten into a disc and wrap in bak­ing pa­per. Place in re­frig­er­a­tor for 30 min­utes to rest. Pre­heat oven to 190°C. Roll out pas­try be­tween 2 sheets of bak­ing pa­per into a 4–5mm thick rec­tan­gle. Work­ing quickly so pas­try doesn’t melt, re­move top sheet of pa­per. Use bot­tom sheet to lift pas­try and in­vert over a 2.3cm-deep, 34cm x 11cm tart pan with re­mov­able base. Line pan with pas­try, peel­ing away pa­per and press­ing into cor­ners. Patch if nec­es­sary. Trim edges, or leave as is for a rus­tic feel. Place on a bak­ing tray in freezer for 20 min­utes to rest. Line pas­try case with bak­ing pa­per and fill with bak­ing weights. Bake for 20–25 min­utes or un­til sides are set. Re­move pas­try weights and pa­per. Bake for a fur­ther 10 min­utes or un­til golden. Mean­while, com­bine rhubarb, su­gar, and orange rind and juice in a bowl. Set aside to mac­er­ate. To make cus­tard, place cream in a bowl and whisk un­til very soft peaks form. Re­frig­er­ate un­til re­quired. Place su­gar, egg yolks and corn­flour in a large heat­proof bowl and whisk un­til thick and pale. Place milk and saf­fron in a saucepan over a medium heat un­til al­most sim­mer­ing. Grad­u­ally add hot milk mix­ture to egg mix­ture, whisk­ing con­stantly un­til smooth and com­bined. Re­turn mix­ture to pan. Cook, whisk­ing con­stantly, over a medium heat un­til cus­tard be­gins to thicken. Re­duce heat to medium-low. Con­tinue whisk­ing un­til cus­tard is pale and glossy, and be­gins to pull away from edge of pan a lit­tle. Re­move from heat. Fold through cream, then pour into hot tart case. Re­duce oven to 170°C. Ar­range drained rhubarb over cus­tard. Bake for 20–25 min­utes or un­til rhubarb is ten­der. Cool slightly. Re­move tart from pan. Top with chopped pis­ta­chios, and serve with crème fraîche or dou­ble cream.


Makes 15 Slightly adapted from a recipe by Lady Flo Bjelke-petersen. 500g Kent pump­kin, de­seeded, peeled ½ cup caster su­gar 1 ta­ble­spoon un­salted but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture ¼ tea­spoon finely ground sea salt 1 egg, at room tem­per­a­ture 1 egg­white, at room tem­per­a­ture 2 cups self-rais­ing flour 1/8 tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon ex­tra 1 ta­ble­spoon caster su­gar good-qual­ity lightly salted but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture, to serve

Pre­heat oven to 225°C. Line a bak­ing tray with bak­ing pa­per. Roughly chop pump­kin into large chunks. Cook pump­kin in a saucepan of boil­ing wa­ter for 10–12 min­utes or un­til soft­ened. Drain re­ally well. Roughly mash pump­kin. Cool. Us­ing a wooden spoon, beat su­gar, but­ter and sea salt in a large bowl un­til creamy. Mea­sure 1 cup of mashed pump­kin. Whisk egg and egg­white to­gether in a bowl. Add one-third of pump­kin and one-third of egg to su­gar mix­ture, and beat un­til well com­bined. Re­peat, in 2 batches, with re­main­ing pump­kin and egg. Sift flour over pump­kin mix­ture and very gen­tly stir un­til com­bined, adding a lit­tle ex­tra flour if dough is too wet. Turn onto a lightly floured sur­face and dust with flour. Press to flat­ten un­til 2–3cm thick. Use a 4–5cm cut­ter to cut out 15 scones. Nes­tle scones to­gether, so they’re touch­ing, on pre­pared tray. Com­bine cin­na­mon and ex­tra su­gar in a bowl. Lightly dust scones with cin­na­mon su­gar. Bake for 15–20 min­utes or un­til tops are nicely browned. Serve scones with lash­ings of salted but­ter! Tamsin hosts cook­ing work­shops and lunches at her farm in Vic­to­ria’s Gipp­s­land. For in­for­ma­tion, visit tam­sin­sta­

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