The Eclipse and Jam Coconut Tarts!

Don't look directly at the sun!

Don’t look directly at the sun!

We had grand intentions of heading further up northern Scotland to view the eclipse: a little road trip in our new truck to witness an auspicious celestial event.

In the end we drove down to the local, yet magnificent, Tentsmuir beach and sat on the dunes under a clear blue sky and waited while the moon passed across, dimming the daylight while skylarks sang their uplifting song behind us, it was magical.

A few other people had gathered on the beach: some with solar glasses, others with colanders and various other makeshift eclipse-viewing apparatus.


Eclipse 20/3/2015

We became quite aware that we had come down completely unprepared! The national Scottish newspaper had given away free solar glasses with the previous day’s paper but we had tried three shops – pretty early on – and failed to find a single pair.

Sitting beneath the blindingly bright sun, I now found myself wishing I’d hunted around the house for something else I could have used! Rummaging though our camera bags we salvaged a leaflet, which we punched a small hole through, and projected the sun through the pin hole onto a white flash-gun filter.

It worked: we could just make out the moon biting a chunk out of the sun!

Up here, near Dundee, we got around 95% partial eclipse so we weren’t suddenly plunged into darkness (as the Radio news readers enthusiastically described) but the light became gradually more muted and subdued, in a wonderfully eery way.

We sat and reminisced, Chris and I had both watched the 1999 partial eclipse down in Stratford-upon-Avon. We hadn’t know each other that well back then, we both worked on Henley Street and a bunch of us had gathered down in front of Shakespeare’s Birthplace house with our geeky solar glasses and I’d seen the eclipse clearly that year through the glasses.

At that point I could never, ever have guessed that I would be watching the 2015 eclipse on a beach in eastern Scotland with that same guy, and that we would have been together for almost the entire interim period! Not to mention all the places we’ve been to in between!

Tentsmuir beach and forest is one of my favourite places: this great, narrow swathe of forest leading down the coast from the Tay Estuary is packed with footpaths. Many paths branch off across the dunes to the vast beach and the wild North Sea.

We took Bo earlier in the week, it’s the only place really that we can let her off the lead to run free and she really makes the most of it: this is Bo’s happy place!

Jam Coconut Tarts

I’ve done a wee bit of baking, giving my Hong Kong coconut tarts a jammy makeover and the jam has transformed them into something totally different which tons more flavour.

Think of them as a maid of honour tart with a coconut twist: crisp buttery pastry, sharp raspberry jam topped with a moist coconut sponge.

Jammy Coconut Tarts
Buttery pastry, sharp jam and topped with moist coconut sponge.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
  1. 250 g {2 cups) plain flour
  2. 125 g {1 stick + 1 tbsp} chilled if using a processor, cubed unsalted butter
  3. 2 tbsp caster sugar
  4. 2 free-range egg yolks
  5. pinch salt
  6. a splash of milk if needed
Coconut Sponge Filling
  1. 100 g {1 cup} desiccated coconut
  2. 75 g {1/3 cup} caster sugar
  3. 2 tbsp plain flour
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 100 g {a scant half stick} unsalted butter, very soft
  6. 1 free-range egg
  7. 50 ml {1/5 cup} evaporated milk
  8. glacé cherries, halved {optional}
  9. 12 teaspoons good quality raspberry jam
  1. Preheat oven 180 C / 350 F / Gas 5.
  2. Whizz the butter into the flour and sugar in a food processor until you get fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg yolks with the salt then add to the processor and continue processing until it comes together into a dough, adding a drop of milk if needs be.
  3. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for half an hour.
  4. Once rested, remove from the fridge and allow to warm up a little before you try to roll it. This is a buttery dough and is best rolled out between two sheets of cling film or baking parchment for ease.
  5. Or use bought sweet shortcrust pastry
  6. Roll out to 3-4 mm thickness and cut out discs using a round cutter to line your tartlet tin. Pop the pastry-lined tin into the fridge while you prepare the coconut filling.
  7. Simply combine the desiccated coconut, the caster sugar, the flour and the baking powder. Add the butter, the egg and the evaporated milk and mix everything together into a fairly stiff batter.
  8. Remove the tartlet tin from the fridge and drop a blob of jam into each of the cases.
  9. Use a teaspoon to heap the batter over the jam. Place a half glacé cherry onto each one.
  10. Bake for around 12 minutes in the oven until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container.
Vagabond Baker
Jam Coconut Tarts

Did you get to experience the eclipse?

By Rachel A Davis

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6 Responses

  1. Janet says:

    Hi there, this looks amazing but I noticed there was no temperature setting for the oven! Could you please advise. Thankyou

  2. these look absolutely delicious! I will be trying them very soon. Sadly the eclipse wasn’t visible down in London where I was, it was very cloudy. I do remember seeing the last one though at least!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Lucy!
      They really are so delish, I’d happily pack them for every picnic!
      I heard from so many people down there about the clouds, what a shame. Glad you remember the last one though!

  3. Wow, what a lovely way to see the eclipse. We were eagerly waiting for it in Reading but thanks to thick cloud covering we ended up seeing nothing!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Booo! Our friends saw it peeking through cloud in Yorkshire and got an amazing photograph with a halo of cloud! Dundee is, by far, the sunniest place I’ve ever lived, I knew we’d be ok seeing it there.