Have you heard of honey vinegar? I came across it a few years back and haven’t seen it again until recently. The one I first saw was commercially made in New Zealand while this one Italian. I thought you might find it interesting, it’s something to look out for any way.
The one I have here is very interesting. The collecting of the honey to make it is probably as interesting as the vinegar itself. Miele Thun is the name of an Italian family run honey business and in this business, the honey is collected in a nomadic fashion following the bees from North to South Italy. This vinegar is based on a honey collected from an unusual forest tree called the Fir tree Honeydew they flower between July and August in Trento, Northern Italy, where it is native. The amber coloured honey has a resinous almost savoury flavour and is not very sweet. The honey vinegar is made by first preparing a honey solution and adding yeast resulting in a sort of Honey Mead that is fermented before a vinegar starter is added. It’s then left in oak barrels to slowly convert into vinegar. The better the honey the better the vinegar and this is a beauty.
You may be surprised to learn that it isn’t sweet and most people get a bit of a surprise when they first taste it. It has the acidic kick of Cider Vinegar or Moscato Vinegar and absolutely no sweetness although some of the herby characteristics of the honey remain.
I’m using this Honey Vinegar and making Vinegar Tart. I thought it might be a bit more interesting than a dressing or than me saying… well you can add it to sauces or dressings or you can pickle with it or use it as a tonic. I could tell you all that but really I thought it more interesting to make a dessert with it.
This is a recipe based on an old fashioned American recipe. It was popular in the 1800’s and was perfect for hard times when common store cupboard ingredients could produce a dessert when there was nothing in the way of fruit available. In the depths of winter when the supply of fruit was exhausted this pie was borne out of necessity. There was no airfreighting or overland transport of bulk fruit and vegetables. So vinegar took the place of tart fruits like lemons and indeed other fruits. The vinegar should add just that touch of tartness fooling the palate into believing there is fruit in there.
I have changed the old recipe a little. It started as a silky custard flavoured with vinegar but I felt this was a little bit of a challenge for today’s tastes so I played around with it and as it developed I knew you may just prefer it the way it eventually settled. It has an easy stir together pastry and the vinegar spiked custard is made with condensed milk. My nephews loved it. It’s easy and a great one to make when you are short of fruit. Just ignore those winter Strawberries on top if you are a pilgrim, the tart doesn’t need it but it does look good dressed with Strawberries I think.
Of course you can just make dressing from Honey Vinegar but this is fun, don’t you think?
- 500gm ( 1 lb 2oz) Flour
- 285 gm (10 oz) unsalted butter softened and cut into cubes
- 130 gm ( 4½ oz) caster or superfine sugar
- 50 gm ( 1¾ oz) almond meal
- 2 eggs
- 1x can (395 gm)condensed milk (13.93 oz)
- 1 cup ( 250ml- 8.81 oz) water
- 60 gm butter (2.11oz)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoon flour
- 2 eggs
- 4 Tablespoon Honey vinegar - or cider vinegar- to taste.
- Use a mixer for this pastry. Put the butter, eggs, vanilla, salt , almond meal and ½ of the flour into the mixer and mix to combine. Add ¾ of the remaining flour and mix to combine. Put the remaining flour on to the bench and tip on the pastry. Push into a disc using some of the flour on the bench if the pastry is sticky. Push into a disc, wrap and chill up to an hour or freeze.
- Flour the bench and roll out ½ the pastry, to fit a 24 cm ( 9½ inch ). Chill again 30 minutes
- bake the pastry blind- or with baking paper and beans for weight, 15 minutes. Take the paper out and continue to bake till golden and firm.
- Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.
- While the pastry is chilling, prepare the custard. Put all of the custard ingredients into a medium sized pot and whisk together with a hand whisk. Cook over a very low heat stirring with a spatula constantly till it starts to thicken. Don't boil, just keep it low till the custard is hot and completely thick. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Taste. Does it need a drop more vinegar or is it perfect?
- Pour into the prepared tart shell and bake for 20 minutes or until just set. It will be a little wobbly in the centre still .
- Serve with whipped cream
- Mine is decorated with chickpea water meringue and whipped cream
Pastry recipe c/o Stefano Manfredi’s -Italian Food