I think we can all agree that I have been shockingly bad at updating this site of late. But we don’t need to dwell on it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that…if indeed anyone actually noticed.
I should probably orchestrate some kind of ‘relaunch’ to mark the occasion, but instead I’m giving you the recipe for a killer apple tart.
I started making this during my gap year when I was working in France as an au pair and it never fails to impress. Please don’t be deterred by the idea of making your own pastry. It is a pathological fear of mine, so if I can do it, you can too. (Although I suppose at a push you could buy some ready-made from Waitrose. Just saying.)
French Apple Tart
for the pâte sucrée (sweet pastry):
150g plain flour
pinch of salt
75g cold, hard butter, cut into small cubes
3 teaspoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground almonds
1 egg yolk
30-45ml cold water
for the apple filling:
450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 further apples of the same size, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (don’t do this too soon or they will turn brown)
finely grated rind of half a lemon
50g caster sugar
for the glaze:
3 teaspooons apricot jam
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the cubed butter and rub it in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and ground almonds. Stir in the egg yolk and enough cold water to mix to a stiff dough with a palette knife. Turn the pastry out onto a floured surface and knead lightly for one minute, until smooth. Wrap in foil and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Cook the 450g of chopped apple over a low heat with the grated lemon rind and sugar until it forms a purée. Add a splash of water if you need to, but ensure it doesn’t end up too runny. Allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Roll out the chilled pastry on a floured surface and use it to line a 20cm diameter flan tin. Spoon the apple purée into the pastry case, leaving room for a layer of apple slices on top. Arrange the apple slices neatly in concentric circles, slightly overlapping. Try to keep the surface of the tart relatively level – any snaggly little bits of apple that jut out too far have a tendency to burn, which somewhat ruins the culinary reputation boost bestowed by the finished article. Place the tin on a baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (keep a watchful eye out for aforementioned burning).
To make the glaze, sieve the jam into a small saucepan. Add the water and lemon juice and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy. When you remove the tart from the oven, brush or spoon the glaze over the apple slices.
Et voilà. Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream (preferably the sort with the little black seeds in) or some pouring cream. The tart is equally good warm or cold.