FRENCH APPLE TART
A French classic, this tart looks sensational but it's made from the humblest of ingredients.
Serve 4 to 6
You will need a loose-bottomed tart tin of either 35/12cm or about 23cm diameter.
Ingredients for the pastry:
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, cut into small cubes
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 large egg, beaten
Up to 2 tspn milk
For the filling:
3-4 fluffy cooking apples such as Bramleys, about 700g
2 tbsp. caster sugar
Splash of water
For the topping:
3-4 small red-skinned eating apples
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp caster sugar
Sieved apricot jam, to glaze
To make the pastry, whizz the flour and butter in a food processor (or rub between your fingertips) until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and process again briefly. Pour in the egg and pulse (or cut in with a blunt knife) just until the pastry comes together in a ball. One large egg should be enough, but if not, add the milk a teaspoonful at a time.
Dust a work surface lightly with flour and gently press the pastry into a flattened disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and put in a baking tray to heat up. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry to 1/2 cm thick, drape it over your rolling pin and ease it gently into your tin.
Chill again for 15 minutes, then prick the base with a fork and trim away most of the excess pastry, leaving a good margin hanging over the edge. Any leftover pastry can be used for smaller tarts or just popped into the freezer.
Crumple up some grease-proof paper, unravel it and use it to line the pastry case, pushing it gently into the nooks and crannies. Fill with dry rice or baking beans and bake for 10 minutes.
Take it out, carefully remove the hot beans and paper and place the tart case back in the oven for another 5-6 minutes, or until it's dry and a pale biscuit colour. Remove and allow to cool in the tin. Once cool, trim the edges level with the top of the tin, using a sharp knife.
Make the filling: peel,cored and slice the cooking apples and put them in a saucepan with a splash of water and the caster sugar. Cook on a low to medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the apples have broken down into a puree. Help them along with a potato masher if they're being stubborn and add a little more water if they look like catching. Once done, allow to cool.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a bowl. Quarter the eating apples, leaving the skin on. Core and slice them and drop them into the lemon juice. Mix in the caster sugar.
Fill the tart tin with the apple puree, then lay the eating apples on top in overlapping slices. They will shrink, so overlap them well. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, until the apples are lightly coloured. If they won't brown, pop the tart under a hot grill for five minutes.
Allow to cool slightly then brush with warmed, sieved apricot jam to glaze.