Ember Day Tart (Holy Cross Day)

Ember Days are fasting days that fall on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the four Ember Weeks which occur during each of our four seasons. Observed by the Western Christian churches these Ember Weeks were set aside for special prayer and would normally coincide with the times when new clergy were ordained. Ember Weeks fall between the third and fourth Sundays of Advent, between the first and second Sundays of Lent, the week between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday and the Calendar week after 14th September, Holy Cross Day. In medieval times the eating of meat was forbidden on Ember Days. Fish, eggs and dairy products were allowed. Hence Ember Day Tart.

Ingredients - serves 6

For the pastry:  
6oz wholemeal flour 1½oz butter
1½oz lard  
For the filling:  
3 eggs, beaten 1½oz raisins
6fl oz milk 12 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
6oz onions ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4oz fresh parsley, roughly chopped ½ teaspoon ground ginger
3oz cheddar cheese, grated salt & pepper
1½oz butter  


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl and rub in the butter and lard until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add enough cold water to bind the pastry together.
  4. Knead lightly on a lightly floured surface, roll out and use to line a 7-8 inch flan tin.
  5. Bake blind for 10 - 15 mins, until the pastry is set.
  6. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
  7. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently cook the onions with the sage and parsley. The onions should be transparent.
  8. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, beaten eggs, milk cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper and raisins. Mix well.
  9. Add the mixture to the flan tin and bake for approx 30 mins or until the tart is risen, firm and lightly browned.
  10. Allow to cool slightly.

This tart can be eaten warm or cold. In fact we tried it both ways with a plate of salad. I had my doubts about the large amount of parsley used, but it really was very good and didn’t taste as verdant as I thought it might.


Dried Fruit
Cheddar Cheese