2020 has been a rubbish year for most of us. And my 2020 got a little worse when my fridge-freezer chose three weeks before Christmas, four weeks before possible Brexit-related food shortages and the week after the Black Friday sales to pack it in. Cue a mad panic as I tried to salvage what I could, including a roll of puff pastry that was fast-defrosting, along with frozen mixed berries, which were rapidly turning into a fuchsia-pink mush. Still, it was a great excuse to test a dessert tart that had been living in my head for a while – and, lo and behold, it worked. A dessert was born, perfect for the festive season, even if this year’s parties are scaled down. This can work with ready-rolled puff or shortcrust pastry so it’s ideal for when you haven’t got the time, patience or inclination to make pastry from scratch.

Festive freezer fiasco tart


1 roll of store-bought puff pastry or shortcrust pastry

Approx. 4 or 5 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

150g mixed berries, fresh or frozen

3 tablespoons desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons caster sugar

Ginger and/or mixed spice to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Prepare a flat baking tray with a piece of baking paper.
  3. If you’re using puff pastry, roll out the rectangle of uncooked, defrosted pastry on the prepared tray. If you’re using shortcrust pastry, roll it out to about 1cm thick and use a large dinner plate as a template to cut a round pastry base.
  4. If you’re using puff pastry, use the tip of a knife to lightly score a border about an inch from the edge. This nice edge of pastry will puff up around the berries in the middle. If you’re using shortcrust pastry, use the tip of a knife to lightly score a circle about an inch from the edge of the round base.
  5. Within the rectangle or circle, spread the redcurrant jelly evenly. I find it easiest to use a spoon to drop dollops of jelly on the pastry and spread and squish gently with the back of the spoon. If the jelly is being a bit stubborn, especially if you’ve kept it in the fridge, warm the spoon under the hot tap and dry before continuing with this sweet, sticky bottom layer.
  6. Distribute the berries on top of the redcurrant jelly and sprinkle with the caster sugar, desiccated coconut and spices to taste.
  7. If you’re making a shortcrust pastry tart, fold the edges up and pinch down to form a raised border to keep the filling contained, galette-style. If you’re using puff pastry, the unadorned edge will puff up in the oven and keep the filling in place.
  8.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

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