BUCKTHORN by John Freeman

John Freeman

John Freeman

18th August 2014
John Freeman

BUCKTHORN by John Freeman

Sea buckthorn divides opinion: most people love it; some hate it.
This is a sea buckthorn tart with a pastry crumb base. It’s got meringue, pine tuille, and a little caramel made with the sea buckthorn. The crunch comes from the meringue. What this dish gives is an intense flavour of sea buckthorn, which is very astringent and tart. It’s a celebration of an ingredient that’s under-used: we want to showcase it so that people become more familiar with it.


The ingredients in this dish are available in the UK between October and December. When it's in season it's available to pre-order at Restaurant Sat Bains, even if it's not on the current menu, with 5 days notice.


We haven't put any emphasis on presentation because we want you to create your own interpretation of the dish. Alternatively you can follow the example shown here.


  • 15g liquid glucose for the buckthorn syrup
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml buckthorn juice salt to taste
  • For the pine tuile:
  • 60g liquid glucose
  • 105g fondant dried pine needles to taste, dried for 4 hours at 55˚C
  • You will also need:
  • 10 small dried meringues – Follow the instructions for Italian meringue, then pipe the meringue onto silicone paper.
  • Place in a dehydrator at 60˚C for 12 hours.
  • Remove when dry and store in an airtight container until needed.


Sea buckthorn curd:
Bring the buckthorn juice to the boil with the sugar and the agar-agar. Gently whisk the eggs and add to the buckthorn juice while whisking. Bring this mix up to 86°C.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until fully emulsified.
Strain the curd into a square plastic mould and place in the fridge to set.
Shortbread base:
Whisk the sugar, egg and salt together gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the rest of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg mix and pulse until the mix just comes together.
Leave to rest for at least an hour.
Roll out to a thickness of 2.5cm.
Bake at 160˚C for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Roughly chop or break 250g of the shortbread and place it in a blender or food processor.
Pulse until the shortbread splits and forms a purée.
Place a sheet of silicone or baking paper on a tray, spread the shortbread mix over it to a thickness of 2mm, then freeze.
When serving, lay out the shortbread, remove the buckthorn curd from the mould and place on top of the shortbread base.
Slice into 10 portions.
Italian meringue:
Bring the water, sugar and glucose to the boil in a pan.
Meanwhile whisk the egg white until soft peaks form.
When the syrup reaches 115°C, slowly pour into the egg white while whisking; this is best done using a stand mixer.
Keep whisking until the meringue is cold.
Spoon it into a piping bag and refrigerate.
Buckthorn syrup:
Caramelise the sugar in a deep pan.
Slowly add the juice while whisking.
Cool down to room temperature.
Season with a little salt and set aside until needed.
Pine tuile:
Bring the glucose and fondant up to 155°C.
Pour onto a non-stick baking mat and leave to cool.
Blitz to a fine powder and add the dried pine to taste.
Sprinkle finely over a non-stick baking mat and bake at 160°C for 2-3 minutes.
Store in an airtight container until needed.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.