Date, orange and cardamom tart
You will need a 23cm (9in) diameter loose-bottomed tart tin. First, begin making the filling. In a large bowl, mix together the caster sugar, the finely grated orange zest, the eggs, the double cream and the ground cardamom seeds and leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours (24 hours is best).
In a separate bowl, leave the halved dates to marinate in the orange juice for at least 8 hours (24 hours is best).
You can make the pastry the day before if you like. It will keep covered in the fridge for up to two days.
To make the pastry by hand, sift the plain flour, the icing sugar and the salt into a bowl and rub in the chilled, diced butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add half the beaten egg and, using your hands, bring the dough together, adding a little more egg – if it is too dry – to make it come together.
If you are making the pastry in a food processor, sift in the plain flour, the icing sugar and the salt, then add the chilled, diced butter. Whizz for a few seconds, then add half the beaten egg and continue to whizz for just a few more seconds, until it comes together. You might need to add a little more egg, but don't add too much – it should just come together.
Make sure you don't overprocess the pastry or it will be tough and heavy. Reserve the remaining beaten egg to brush over the finished pastry.
Without kneading the dough, carefully shape it into a round, 1-2cm (½-¾in) thick, using your hands to flatten it. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and place it between two sheets of cling film – each piece should be bigger than your tart tin). Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick. Make sure to keep it in a round shape, and large enough to line the tin's base and sides.
Remove the top layer of cling film, and place the pastry upside down – the remaining cling-film side should face up – on the tart tin. There's no need to flour or grease the tin.
With the cling film still attached to the dough, press the pastry into the edges of the tin, and, using your thumb, 'cut' the pastry along the edge of the tin for a neat finish. If there are any holes or gaps in the pastry, simply patch them up with some of your spare pieces of dough.
Remove the cling film and chill the pastry in the fridge for 15 minutes, or in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the fridge or freezer and line with greaseproof paper or baking parchment, leaving plenty of paper to come up over the sides. Fill the lined tart case with baking beans or dried pulses (you can use these over and over again), and bake 'blind' for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry feels just dry to the touch on the base.
Remove the paper and beans, brush the pastry with a little of the remaining beaten egg and return to the oven for 3 minutes. Again, if there are any little holes or cracks in the pastry, patch them up with any leftover raw pastry, so that the filling doesn't leak out during cooking.
Once the pastry has been baked blind, take it out of the oven and set it aside in the tin while you make the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C, 325°F, Gas 3. Evenly line the base of the tart with the drained dates.
Melt the butter gently in a saucepan and add it to the mixture of caster sugar, orange zest, egg, double cream and ground cardamom seeds that has been chilling in the fridge. Pour this mixture gently over the dates to come as far up to the top of the pastry as possible.
Carefully transfer to the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the tart is just set. Allow it to cool.
Heat the apricot jam gently in a small saucepan until it's warm, then brush it over the top and serve immediately.