Every region of France has its specialities, cakes, cheese, wine, casseroles, tarts and more. Where I live in the far north of France, Pas de Calais in Hauts-de-France, we have some unusual specialities you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Like Beer Tart. I first had it in a cosy Flemish restaurant in Saint-Omer, a market town with the most amazing history. A glorious Gothic cathedral, ancient marshlands where the postman delivers by boat, historic architecture and much, much more. And it is a gastronomic destination that offers not just fabulous restaurants, but authentic too – like at La Baguernette where I had that beer tart.
I was expecting something beery and bitter. I was wrong. It’s sweet and utterly delicious and not like anything I’ve had before.
I asked my elderly neighbour Claudette about it and she says that it’s been popular for many years in these parts where brewing beer is part of the heritage and growing sugar beet is common. This is her mother’s recipe for beer tart, but I warn you – it’s definitely not for those on a diet!
Recipe for Beer tart:
Ingredients for six slices
For the sweet dough:
200g (7 oz) of flour
100g (3.5 oz) of butter
75g (2.6 oz) of icing sugar
Or use ready-made sweet shortcrust pastry.
For the filling
250ml (1/2 pint) of amber beer (room temperature, not cold)
200g (70z) of soft brown sugar
35g (1 oz) butter
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Mix the ingredients for the sweet dough. Roll out the dough and place in a pie dish. Prick the pastry lightly and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Beat the eggs and sugar together, pour in the beer while whisking. Add the cinnamon if you’re using.
Pour the mix over the brown sugar. Dot the top with small knobs of butter.
Bake in a preheated oven ((gas Mark 7/210°C) for 35 minutes (or until firm to touch and golden).
Delicious warm or cold, especially with ice cream, and salted caramel sauce…