The original Manchester tart is a variation on an earlier recipe, the Manchester pudding, first recorded by the Victorian cookery writer Mrs Isabella Beeton in her The Book of Household Management (1861). It consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, spread with raspberry jam, covered with a custard filling and topped with flakes of coconut and a Maraschino cherry. Mrs Beeton’s recipe did not use coconut, and some modern variations add a layer of thinly sliced banana under the custard. The somewhat controversial addition of bananas is believed to have originated in nearby Salford, thus such variations are known by some as Salford tarts.
The Manchester tart was a staple of school dinners from the 1950s until the 1980s.