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Manchester Tart or Pudding: War-time to Date

Updated on October 5, 2017
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

As part of a series of low cost recipes from war-time or the 1950s I am pleased to include a recipe for Manchester Tart, much loved by those in the area and even supplied by the local authorities as part of a school lunch. However, before talking about the tart, apparently the forerunner was known as Manchester pudding which goes back to 1860 and the days of Mrs Beeton. Some people prefer this so I have included recipes for both. They have basic similarities but although called a pudding it was really more of a tart as some included pastry.

The first recipe is a relatively simple modern one.

Manchester Pudding

Version one Ingredients (this one is without pastry)

8oz sponge cake crumbs (I think these can be bought as sponge fingers for trifles)

2oz granulated sugar

2 large free-range eggs (or powdered egg or carton of egg white, although meringue is difficult to achieve with this) (you can also buy cartons of egg yolk)

1 pint whole milk

Grated rind of an unwaxed lemon and a nice raspberry jam


Separate the egg whites and yolks and set aside.

Crumble the sponge cake into crumbs and set aside.

Using a large mixing bowl beat the milk, egg yolks and 1 oz sugar together. Stir the grated lemon rind into the cake crumbs and add to the egg/milk mixture. Pour the mixture into a greased dish and bake in a moderate oven for about 45 mins or until the mixture is set. Remove from oven and spread the surface with a layer of jam. beat the egg whites stiffly just before pudding is ready and mix in remaining sugar and cover the pudding with this meringue mixture. Return to oven until meringue is coloured. You can use a blowtorch lightly to colour off the peaks.

This is the older Mrs Beeton's version of Manchester Tart from about 1860. She calls it Manchester Pudding but it uses pastry so is really a tart.

Version two Ingredients

3oz Fresh white breadcrumbs

⅔ pint or 10 fl oz whole Milk

Strips unwaxed Lemon peel

2 large free-range Eggs, beaten (or powdered egg)

2 large free-range Egg yolks (save whites in fridge or cool shelf for later cooking)

2oz unsalted Butter (or use home-made)

2oz granulated Sugar, more or less to taste

8oz Puff or flaky pastry

3 Tablespoon Brandy

A good quality raspberry jam

Glace cherries.


Infuse the lemon rind in the milk for about half an hour to an hour, then pour into a saucepan, through a strainer, into the breadcrumbs, increase the temperature to a boil for about 3 minutes. Allow to cool a little (otherwise you will end up with scrambled egg) then add the eggs and yolks, butter, sugar and brandy, mix together, and leave to cool.

Roll out the pastry and use it to line a pie plate or flan dish. Spread it with a thick layer of jam, then pour on the above mixture and bake for about one hour at 375 degF/190 degC. Make sure the top does not become too brown. Serve cold with some glace cherries, a little sugar sprinkled on top.

This recipe will serve: 5-6


Manchester Tart

For any of you that went to school in the Manchester area this will remind you of the best part of school “dinners” I have given two recipes here as it varies, a lot, from one side of the Manchester area to the other. The recipes given are for a full size tart but sometimes they were made as individual tartlets.

Version one Ingredients

1¼ pints or 20 fl oz full-fat milk

1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry

4 tablespoons raspberry jam

3 tablespoons custard powder (use proper Birds Custard powder if possible)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or one vanilla pod cut open

5 tablespoons desiccated coconut

4 tablespoons caster sugar, divided between custard and topping.

Glace cherries.(if you have any left from pre-war or use British cherries, stoned and soaked in sugar syrup)

Preheat oven to 200degC /390 degF

Line a 10 inch round lightly greased baking tin with pastry. Prick the base all over with a fork. Lay a sheet of baking parchment on top and cover with baking beans. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and baking parchment and let cool. Meanwhile, make the custard. Place milk, custard powder, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into a saucepan, stir until smooth and gently heat until it starts to thicken. Set aside to cool slightly. Spread jam thickly over pastry case and sprinkle with half the coconut. Pour in custard, sprinkle with coconut add glace cherries and remaining sugar. Chill until ready to serve.

This recipe will serve: 6


Version two Ingredients

This recipe is a little more complicated and probably could not be made until the mid-1950s, but you can simplify it by using ready-made pastry.

To make the pastry:

5oz of unsalted butter

3½oz of caster sugar

1 free-range egg, beaten

6oz of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

To make the filling:

7oz of raspberry jam

2 tbsp of caster sugar

2 tbsp of rum

2 tbsp of unsalted butter

4 bananas, ripened and sliced

To make the custard:

1½ pints of semi skimmed milk

4 free-range egg yolks

4 tbsp of caster sugar

5 tbsp of custard powder

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180°C Very lightly grease a 12in x 8in x 2in baking tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, and then fold in the flour mixed with the baking powder Flatten down the mixture in the tin using the back of a wooden spoon, prick all over with a fork, cover with baking parchment and cover with baking beads. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, remove beads and paper.

For the filling, spread the cooled base thickly with the jam

Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Add the sugar to the pan and melt to form a caramel, make sure you don’t burn the sugar by swirling all the time. Add the rum, do not flame, and then whisk in the butter. Add the banana slices and toss gently until completely coated and caramelised. Layer caramelised banana on top of the raspberry jam and then place in the fridge for 30 minutes

To make the custard, put the milk in a saucepan, bring gently to the boil, making sure you don’t scald the milk, then reduce the heat. Using a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, custard powder and an extra splash of milk together until smooth and without lumps. Pour a little of the hot milk on to the mixture, whisk well, and then add it back to the hot milk. Gently cook the custard over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens considerably. Pour the custard on top of the banana caramel mixture, sprinkle with the coconut, then refrigerate for 30-40 minutes until the tart is set.

This recipe is probably too rich for wartime as it would take too much of your rations and bananas were not available until well after the war had finished.

Manchester pudding with meringue top
Manchester pudding with meringue top
Manchester tart using breadcrumbs
Manchester tart using breadcrumbs
Manchester tart with custard filling
Manchester tart with custard filling
Manchester individual tartlet
Manchester individual tartlet
Manchester pudding (it's a tart really as it uses pastry)
Manchester pudding (it's a tart really as it uses pastry)

© 2013 Peter Geekie


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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear KoffeeKlatchGals,

      Although I don't come from Manchester they are really tempting. Oh well there goes my diet for another week !

      Thanks for your comments

      Kind regards Peter

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Your tarts looks so good. I have to try them. Thanks for sharing. Up, useful and interesting.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear ChitrangadaSharan,

      Thank you for your kind comments. It does have some similarities to Indian puddings and I think you will love it.

      kind regards Peter

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This sounds so delicious and looks so tempting! Definitely going to try it.

      Thanks for the detailed explanation and helpful pictures.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      I agree it looks great but I'm a lousy cook so I will ask my kind wife, who is a brilliant cook, to try the meringue topped one.

      Kind regards Peter

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 5 years ago from South Wales

      Manchester tart is a long time favourite of mine, Peter. I must get around to making one. Voted up and useful.


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