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Genevieve’s Mam’s Irish Apple Tart

by Genevieve Halbert – The Happy Foodie Team

This old-fashioned bake is an Irish family classic, made with melt-in-the-mouth shortcrust pastry, sweet, tender apples, and tangy berries.


I don’t have the scientific data to back this up, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that 100% of Irish mams and grandmothers have an apple tart recipe and 0% of those recipes are written down anywhere. It’s all ‘handfuls’ of this and ‘just enough’ of that, with lots of ‘judging by eye’. Home baking at its best, certainly, but rather a challenge for those of us who depend on scales and spoons. This particular recipe was (eventually) set down by my own mother via email (along with several tart-related anecdotes which I have not included but which, I assure you, were delightful). It’s a simple but beautiful thing: crisp, melt-in-the-mouth pastry encasing sweet, tender apples. The blackberries are not essential, but when in season they add a mouthwatering tang and a pretty pinkish hue.

Photo credit: Louise Robinson

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For the pastry:
337g plain flour
90g Cookeen, Trex, or other vegetable shortening, fridge-cold, cut into cubes
90g margarine or butter, fridge-cold, cut into cubes
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk, beaten
For the filling:
3-4 Bramley apples
A handful blackberries
2-4 tbsps sugar, to taste
To finish:
2 tsp butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar

Essential kit

You will need a 24cm springform tart tin.


Pre-heat the oven to 200°/180°(fan)/gas 6.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the salt.

Add the cubed cookeen and margarine/butter and rub into the flour until it has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

Add a small amount of cold water (just enough to bring the pastry together) and mix with a cold palette knife/butter knife.

Do not knead, but shape it into a small ball, then wrap it in film and put in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

Divide the pastry into two, and roll it out into two circles.

Line the tin with one of these pastry circles. The pastry is quite short, and may tear – if this happens, just patch it up with some pastry offcuts. 

Add 3-4 bramley apples, sliced reasonably thinly, and the blackberries, if using, then sprinkle on the sugar.

Top with a second circle of pastry, and crimp the edges together to seal. Pierce the top several times with a fork to allow the steam to escape. If you'd like, add a heart or leaf pattern on top made from spare pastry, before brushing all over with some beaten egg yolk.

Cook for 30-40 min until the top is golden brown.

As soon as it comes out of the oven, brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle on the remaining sugar.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, cream, custard, or crème fraîche.

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