Somerset Apple Tart
This is a recipe for using up windfalls at harvest time, as long as the variety of apples you grow are well-flavoured, with a sweet/tart taste, and will keep their shape when baked.
- For the rich sweet shortcrust pastry:
- 175g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 30g icing sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 1 medium free-range egg yolk
- about 1 tablespoon icy-cold water, to mix
- For the filling:
- 800–900g Braeburn or Jazz apples (about 5 or 6 large apples)
- 125ml single cream
- 1 medium free-range egg
- 35g caster sugar OR vanilla caster sugar
- 2 tsp Somerset apple brandy or brandy OR 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp sieved apricot jam OR apricot glaze, warmed
- 1 x 23cm fluted, deep, loose-based flan tin; a baking sheet
1. To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the pieces of butter and toss in the flour so they are lightly coated, then gently rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and stir into the crumbs with a round-bladed knife to make a firm dough. If there are dry crumbs, work in more cold water a teaspoon at a time. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop to a large circle about 32cm across and use to line the flan tin. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the rim. Prick the base with a fork, then chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
3. Carefully neaten the pastry rim, trimming off the excess pastry. Line the case with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and bake blind in the heated oven for 12–15 minutes until the pastry is set and firm. Remove the paper and beans, then return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes until the pastry is crisp and lightly coloured (see the Baker’s Guide page 10 for more information).
4. Set the flan tin on a heatproof surface. Put the baking sheet into the oven to heat up, and reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
5. While the pastry case cools, peel and quarter the apples.Cut out the cores, then cut the apples into very thin slices. Arrange the apple slices, slightly overlapping, in the cooled pastry case, starting from the edge and working round in neat concentric circles. Make sure the pastry case is completely filled to the top, with no gaps, and the top layer looks pretty.
6. Measure the cream in a jug. Add the egg, sugar and brandy (or vanilla) and mix well until smooth. Slowly pour this mixture evenly over the apples, letting it seep through the layers.
7. Set the flan tin on the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes until the custard is just set when you jiggle the tart and the apples are a golden colour. Set the tin on a wire rack and quickly brush the top of the tart with apricot jam or glaze to give a glossy sheen. Carefully unmould the tart and leave to cool. Eat warm or at room temperature.