RECIPE: Norfolk Asparagus and Hollandaise Tart with Optional Cromer Crab

The perfect Spring dish from top Norfolk chef, Richard Bainbridge

(This can be done before and kept in a jar for weeks)


350ml of white wine vinegar
1 shallot, thinly sliced
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf, torn
1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
1 Sprig of Fresh Thyme

SHORTCRUST PASTRY (Optional, pre-made tart case is fine)

250g of plain flour
160g Salted butter, cold and diced
1 egg
1 tbsp. of milk 1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten


4 egg yolks
2 eggs
500ml of double cream
1tbs Chopped Herbs (Dill or parsley or chives etc.)


20 Local asparagus spears
2 tbsp. of chives, finely chopped edible flowers, optional
1 Dressed Cromer Crab, optional


  1. First make the vinegar reduction. Add the vinegar, shallot, peppercorns and bay leaf to a pan and reduce over a medium heat until you are left with about 50ml liquid. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve the liquid.

  2. To make the shortcrust pastry, place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or you could do this is by pulsing in a food processor).

  3. Whisk together the egg, milk and salt and add to the flour and butter. Bring the mixture together to form dough, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

  4. (Tart Case 24in)
    Lightly flour the work surface then roll out the pastry to fit the tart tin. The pastry should be 3-5mm thick. Leave the edges of the pastry bigger than the tin as it will
    shrink during cooking.

  5. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and line with parchment paper or cling film. Fill with baking beads and blind bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 ̊C for 20 minutes.

  6. Remove the parchment and beans, and then return to the oven for 10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

  7. Brush the pastry with egg wash and carefully trim the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife. Turn the oven down to 170°C/gas mark 3.

  8. To make the hollandaise, add the egg yolks, whole eggs and vinegar reduction to a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (a double boiler). Whisk until doubled in volume, then remove from the heat.

  9. Slowly add the cream, little by little until all incorporated, whisking continuously. Now add the chopped herbs and set aside until needed.

  10. Peel the asparagus and blanch in boiling salted water for 2 minutes until tender. Refresh in cold water.

  11. (If using Crabs beat the brown crab meat with a fork in a bowl until smooth and then brush the base of the tart before adding the hollandaise). Pour the reserved hollandaise into the pastry case and position the blanched asparagus evenly across the tart. (If using the crab sprinkle over the white crab meat on top of the asparagus before going into the oven). Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is set.

  12. Leave the tart to cool completely before removing from the tin. Scatter with the chopped chives and edible flowers before serving.

This tart is great on its own, served with a big fresh green salad or with smoked fish or Cromer Crabs and of course a big glass of East Anglian Bacchus the perfect light
lunch or starter.