Whitsun Oldbury Tart

Despite their name, Oldbury Tarts are in fact pies. It is thought that the name may have arisen from the sharpness of the gooseberry filling rather than the pastry construction. These are the pies of medieval Britain, as seen in illustrations of Pie-men in nursery rhyme books, and were originally sold at the Whitsuntide celebrations in Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire. Oh, I remember the days when we had Whitsuntide and not Spring Bank Holiday (tide)! Unusually for a sweet tart, these are made with a hot-water pastry. More usually associated with pork or raised game pies. My Official Taster assures me that he was pleasantly surprised with the use of this pastry. He felt it had a more neutral taste than the usual sweet-crust pastry which sometimes detracts from the taste of the fruit filling.

Ingredients - makes 12

8fl oz (225ml) boiling water 1 tablespoon icing sugar
3oz (75g) butter 1lb (450g) small green gooseberries
3oz (75g lard) 2oz (50g) caster sugar
1lb (450g) plain flour  

* If you don’t like your fruit pies too sharp, you may want to add more sugar.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  2. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.
  3. Mix the boiling water, lard and butter together, stirring until the fats have melted.
  4. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl and pour in the liquid.
  5. Mix to a pliable dough and knead for a minute. Set to one side and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Roll out the pastry on a floured board and cut out 12 x 4inch (10cm) rounds. Mould them into the muffin tin.
  7. Fill with the gooseberries and sprinkle the sugar over the fruit. Moisten the edge of the pastry with water.
  8. Cut out 12 x 2½inch (6cm) pastry rounds and place on top of the fruit filling.
  9. Pinch the edge of the pastry together to form a seal and make a small vent hole in the top with a sharp knifepoint.
  10. Bake for 25—30mins until golden brown.

These are traditionally eaten on their own. But you can serve warm or cold with custard, ice-cream or cream. They are extremely juicy, so don’t bite into them when you are wearing your best clothes!