9th December 2012
I’m back. Sorry for being away, but for those who know me know that there have been a few upsetting things happening in the last few weeks and I really haven’t felt like baking. But I’m back, back in the kitchen doing what I love. It’s taken time, but I really feel like baking again.
Right it’s the dreaded pastry, I have so many recipes in this section still to do, I keep putting them off, but am determined that in the next few weeks or so (well perhaps in the New Year) I will be concentrating on quite a few of them!
I had purchased the cooking apples for this a few weeks ago, but luckily with the cold weather we’ve had they were still OK!
The pastry was the first thing to make first, aaargh. I was tempted to get the food processor out and make it in that, but thought no, that’s defeating the object, it needs to be made by hand otherwise you will never get any better at making pastry.
Into a bowl went the plain flour and the diced butter. This was rubbed together with my fingertips until it resembled breadcrumbs. One egg yolk was added to the mixture and stirred through with a knife. There was no way this was going to bring the mixture together so, as suggested a little water was added … and a little more. Eventually the mixture came together. It was kneaded very lightly and then wrapped in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill for half an hour.
Whilst the dough was chilling it was on with making the filling, or one part of the filling. The cooking apples were cut into quarters and the cores removed. Mary says there is no need to peel the apples just chop them into chunks. No complaints there from me, that bit was easy!
50g of butter was put into a large saucepan and gently melted. Into this went the apples and a couple of tablespoons of water. The lid was put on the saucepan and the apples left to cook very gently for 10-15 minutes. After this time the apples were soft and mushy – a bit like baby food! The contents of the saucepan were emptied into a sieve and rubbed through, so the peel was left behind. A quick rinse of the pan and back into it went the sieved apples, apricot jam, sugar and grated lemon rind. This was cooked over a high heat for 10-15 minutes, being stirred continuously, until all the excess liquid had evaporated and you were left with a thick apple mixture. I could quite easily have eaten this there and then.
Well this is where I think it started to go a little bit wrong. Half an hour came and went whilst I was making the apple mixture. After doing this I ended up going out for a walk with the dog, into town to do a bit of shopping, home for a cup of tea and a sit down and before I knew it, it had been in the fridge for nearly 5 hours!
There was no way my pastry was going to roll out after 5 hours in the fridge, so it was left on the worktop for half an hour to bring it back to room temperature, or nearly back!! The pastry was rolled out, I did have a bit of trouble, it was still way to firm but I got there in the end. This was put into a deep loose-bottomed fluted flan tin (it was meant to be a 20cm tin, but I don’t possess one of those so it had to go into a 20cm deep sided sponge cake tin. I knew it wouldn’t look as pretty, but all my fluted tins are a lot bigger and I didn’t want the pastry to be too thin. A piece of baking parchment was scrunched up and put on top of the pastry and this was filled with baking beans and popped into the oven (which had been preheated beforehand) for 15 minutes. The beans were then removed and the pastry put back in the oven for another 5 minutes. We didn’t want any “soggy bottoms” here!!
The cooled apple puree mixture I made earlier was spooned into the tart case and levelled. The next job was to peel, quarter and core the eating apples and slice them very thinly. These had to be arranged in neat overlapping circles over the pastry. My first attempt went completely wrong and I had difficulty overlapping the slices, I don’t know why, the second attempt went fine, I think it was a case of turning my brain on! Once they had been arranged they were brushed with lemon juice and sprinkled with caster sugar.
The tart went back into the oven for 25 minutes. After this time I didn’t think my pastry was quite cooked and the apples on top still looked very pale, so it was baked for another 5 minutes. It was removed from the oven and then brushed with a glaze of runny apricot jam.
It tasted lovely, although my husband did say some custard with it would have been good. I was pleased with the pastry it had a lovely crumbly texture and my tart didn’t have a “soggy bottom”, so I think Mary would have been pleased!