While this French Apple Tart has a few separate stages and initially sounds a bit fiddly, it is actually very easy to make and tastes delicious. You could make the pastry base and the apple purée ahead of time and just finish the final stages and put it all together when you want to serve it: it would make a good make-ahead dinner party dessert. It should have been glazed with apricot jam and would have looked even better but I forgot that bit!
It’s a great dessert for using up those Autumn apples and it will be going on my list for next year. The apple purée base uses cooking apples because they cook down to mush really easily and the sliced apples decorating the tart are eating apples. I was expecting them to be very soft and cooked through but even though the tart was in the oven for around 30 minutes they were still very firm. I bought Braeburn apples from the supermarket and I wasn’t impressed with them at all: they didn’t taste of much so I wonder if they had been refrigerated for too long or weren’t properly ripe. Maybe home-grown apples or a different variety would have been better. Or glazing them with apricot jam like you are supposed to. Either way, I don’t think it really mattered!
This is a recipe I found in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I used my favourite sweet pastry recipe rather than her pastry recipe, but left out the sugar. So technically it’s not sweet pastry, just pastry with egg and a high butter content. The quantity below will make more pastry than you need for one tart so either freeze the rest or make some mini tartlets. Just in case you have any apple purée left over and you can make some testers for yourself. I am always amazed at how much pastry shrinks when you bake it and when I took it out of the oven the first time I thought I should probably have used a deeper tart tin. However, even though I had a small amount of apple purée left over when I had filled it, I think a wider, shallower tart is better than a smaller, deeper one for this filling.
250g plain flour
900g cooking apples (about 5 large ones)
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons apricot jam
50g caster sugar
Grated rind of half a lemon
2 0r 3 eating apples
1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Make the pastry:
Put the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the egg and mix to a dough. I use one large egg: if you use a medium egg you may need to add some cold water.
Knead the pastry lightly, then if necessary wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge until firm enough to roll out.
Set the oven to 180ºC.
Roll out the pastry and use to line a 9″ loose bottomed tart tin. Prick all over with a fork.
The case should be lined with greaseproof paper and filled with baking beans: I often don’t bother with that and if the pastry starts to bubble up I stick another hole in it to force out the air. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that method…
Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until the pastry at the base has dried out: if using baking beans, remove them and the greaseproof paper for the last five minutes or so. Leave the pastry in the tin to cool.
Make the apple purée filling:
Core the apples and chop roughly: there is no need to peel them.
Melt the butter in a large pan, and add the water and apples.
Cover with a lid and cook very gently for about 1-15 minutes, until the apples become soft and mushy.
Rub the apples through a sieve into a clean pan:
Add the apricot jam, sugar and lemon rind and cook, stirring, for about 10-15 minutes until the excess liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool.
Set the oven to 180ºC.
Peel, quarter and core the eating apples and slice very thinly.
Fill the pastry case with the apple purée and layer the sliced apple in circles on the the top.
Brush the apples with lemon juice and sprinkle over the caster sugar.
Bake for around 25-30 minutes, until the edges of the apples are lightly browned. Sieve a few tablespoons of apricot jam into a saucepan and heat so that it becomes runny. Brush over the top of the apples.
Delicious warm or cold, on its own or with cream or ice cream.