4 Large Bramley Apples
1tsp Mixed Spice or Cinnamon or 3 Whole Cloves whichever you prefer
300g Plain Flour
75g Baking Fat such as Cookeen
1 Egg, lightly beaten
NOTE: for the pastry there should always be half the amount of butter or fat to flour. For this apple tart I always use a mixture of both fat and flour because I find that it makes the pastry lighter and crispier. But if I was to make a quiche I would use all butter and a egg and egg yolk to bind instead of water.
- Peel and slice the apples. Keep back one apple to add later if you like a bit of a bite and not have them all stewed. Rinse them under the tap and drain thoroughly. I do not add water to the apples when they are stewing as the apples themselves already contain enough juice and that along with the remaining water after rinsing is enough to stew them.
- Add in the sugar, cover with a lid immediately and put on a medium heat. Some say that you should add a little lemon juice to the apples to stop them from browning but I've found that as long as you put the lid on the pot as quickly as possible, this is not a problem.
- After about 10mins take the apples from the heat. Mix in your choice of spice and then taste a little to make sure it is sweet enough for you. In this house we like it a little tart still.
- If you like a bit of a bite in your apple tart, then now is the time to cut up your last apple and add it in.
- Leave to cool completely while you get on with the pastry.
There are two different ways to do the pastry. By hand or in a blender. It took me a long time to be converted to the way of the blender but now I would never look back because it takes a matter of only seconds in the blender.
Pastry By Hand:
- Before you begin put a dinner knife, water and butter in the fridge for a couple of hours to become very cold. The key to very light crispy pastry is that everything must be cold. Even your hands!!!.
- Weigh out the flour, butter and fat and place into a large bowl.
- Rub the butter and flour together between your fingers and your thumbs until they resemble breadcrumbs.
- Take the knife out of the fridge and adding a couple of tablespoons of water at a time, bind together using chopping movements. It should not take very much water for it to come together.
- Feel the pastry, if it is crumbly then it needs more water but if it is a little wet then add a little extra flour. But never ever knead because this will only make the pastry hard when cooked.
- Tip out of the bowl and roll into a ball. Cover with cling film and place it in the fridge for a minimum of 1/2 hour.
- Before you begin put a jug of water and butter in the fridge for a couple of hours to become very cold. The key to very light crispy pastry is that everything must be cold.
- Put flour and butter into the blender and whizz for 30sec until they resemble very fine breadcrumbs.
- Drizzle water a tablespoon at a time through the nozzle with the blender still on.
- Again this should take only take a few tablespoons in total but the only way to really know is to feel it. If it is crumbly then it needs more water but if it is a little wet then add a little extra flour.
- Tip out the pastry and dust with flour before forming it into a ball, covering it in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour.
Forming The Apple Tart:
- 15mins before you want to make up your apple tart preheat the oven to 190° and put a heavy gauge baking tray into the oven.
- Flour and butter your flan dish.
- Cut away just a little over half of the pastry and roll out large enough to cover the base and sides of the dish. Before filling it with apple, roll out the pastry for the top.
- Put the pastry into the bottom of the dish and ensure that it is pushed right into the side, being very careful not to tear.
- Brush the base of the pastry all over with the beaten egg. This ensures the apple does not make the base soggy and soft.
- Fill up the case with the apple and even out.
- Carefully lift the top of the pastry by folding it over the top of your rolling pin and put it on top of the tart.
- Cut the excess and seal the tart at the same time by pressing the rolling pin along the edge of the dish.
- Make a hole in the centre of the tart to ensure air can get out and that the pastry doesn't puff up when cooking. You can also make several fork holes around the top.
- To ensure that the case is completely sealed, make little indents by pressing a fork along the edges of the dish.
- Brush the top of the tart with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Decorate with any left over pastry.
- Bake for 30mins on top of the hot baking try. The baking tray makes sure that the base of the tart is cooked at the same time as the top.