This recipe first came about in the shape of a Gin & Tonic cocktail. I was on holiday, enjoying a quiet evening by the fire in a quirky pub, when I decided to order a G&T. I didn’t realised they had a whole separate menu for it. One by one I ordered the ones I had never tried before – including one with grapefruit tonic garnished with thyme.
While sipping it, I was thinking of flavours and how chefs and mixologists are now bringing back the use of herbs in sweet dishes and cocktails. Earlier this year I found myself making an apple slice tray bake with rosemary, not an inappropriate combination at all.
By the time I got back home from my holiday, I already had three recipes using grapefruit and thyme. This is one of them. The filling is made of ricotta flavoured with freshly squeezed grapefruit; it is just set so it will be creamy and citrusy. The slices on top are roasted in the oven for 1 hour to bring forward the sweetness in the fruit.
For the pastry:
250g plain flour
150g butter, diced and at room temperature
15ml cold milk
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of caster sugar
For the filling:
200g cream cheese
125g crushed/blitzed pink grapefruit pulp (see method below)
1 bunch of thyme finely cut + 1 bunch for serving
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp plain flour
Put the flour in a bowl and add the butter, coating it in flour. Take each pice of butter between your fingertips, flatten it gently like shuffling cards. Repeat until the butter and flour look like breadcrumbs. Incorporate the milk until the dough just barley hold together. Cover in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for 40 minutes.
Cut the grapefruit into segments, peel them and remove the white bitter skin. Add 1 tsp of caster sugar and blitz together.
Put all the ingredients together and mix well.
Take a non-stick 20cm pastry tin and slightly grease it. Take the pastry out of the fridge, roll and arrange in the tin, making sure you press it to follow the shape of the tin. Using a fork, prick the base of the pastry all over. Put in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and bake the pastry for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Now it’s time to pour the fruit mix in to the pastry tin. Then lower the oven heat to 160C and bake the tart from another 40 minutes.
Serve cold, with more grapefruit segments on top and with thyme leaves.