It’s no secret that autumn/winter is our favourite season of the year, so there should be no surprise that we have a family tradition of baking a warm welcome to usher in the new season each year. So, as a change to our usual blog posts and to mark the official end of British summertime this weekend, we thought we’d share with you the recipe for our apple tartlet that we’ve developed over the last decade or so to perfectly encompass the joys of the season.
ALMOND PASTRY DOUGH:
150g unsalted butter
95g icing sugar
30g ground almonds
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp vanilla paste (1/2 tsp vanilla extract if you prefer)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
250g plain flour
ALMOND PASTRY CREAM:
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
150g eggs (roughly 3 large eggs), lightly beaten
40g unsalted butter
6 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
75g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp vanilla paste (1tsp vanilla extract)
1 ½ tsp cornflour
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
3 gala apples (or any crisp red apple)
Demerara sugar (enough to sprinkle over the tartlet)
100g unsalted butter
STEP ONE: MAKING THE SWEETENED ALMOND PASTRY DOUGH
Beat together the butter, icing sugar, ground almonds, salt and vanilla. Once incorporated, beat in the egg, then add the flour and mix until just combined to form a smooth dough.
Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten with your hands to a roughly circular shape. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
Roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 1cm and line a greased 25 cm fluted tart dish. Refrigerate overnight to dry out the dough, then blind bake at 160*C for about 15 minutes (10 minutes with the baking beans and 5 without).
STEP TWO: MAKING THE ALMOND CREAM
Very simple, just beat the butter with the sugar and the ground almonds, then incorporate the beaten egg a little at a time until you have a smooth paste (it might look a little rough if the almonds aren’t ground very fine, don’t worry it’ll still work out a treat!)
STEP THREE: MAKING THE APPLE COMPOTE
Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. At the first sizzle, add the diced apples and sugar (you can mix the diced apple with the sugar as you’re dicing to stop the apple browning while it waits to be used).
After about 5 minutes, add the lemon zest and vanilla and continue cooking until the apples are lightly browned on all sides.
Blend the cornflour with the lemon juice to make a paste and then add the entire mixture to the apples. Cook for another 5 minutes while stirring, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
STEP FOUR: ASSEMBLING THE TARTS
Preheat the oven to 180*C. For the best-looking tart, use a piping bag fitted with a plain tip to pipe the almond cream in a circular motion starting at the edge of the tart shell and working towards the middle. If you don’t want the hassle of piping, spooning the cream into the tart shell and spreading it to the edges of the tart shell with the back of a spoon will work just fine, just try to keep the layer roughly even.
Bake the tart shell with the pastry cream for about 10 minutes. If the sides of your pastry start to brown before the cream has set, cover them with a little tin foil.
Once the pastry cream is cooked through (it should have a little wobble in the middle), take it out of the oven and set it on the counter to rest until the pastry cream has deflated back to its original height then cover the pastry cream with a layer of the apple compote.
To decorate, slice the unpeeled Gala apples into very thin slices. We use a mandolin to get slices about 2mm thick, if you prefer to cut by hand this method works perfectly well, just aim for slices around 5mm thick and an even thickness right through the slice.
Heat the butter to make a beurre noisette (the link will take you to a tutorial if you’re not familiar), then dip the slices of apple into the beurre noisette and arrange them over the tart in a circular pattern starting from the outside and working inward to obtain an attractive rosette shape.
Sprinkle the sugar over the tart and you’ve got the perfect little autumn bake that represents the crisp golden-red warm feeling of the autumn/winter season.