This is the simplest yet most delicious way to cook apples, one which was used by the earliest cooks. The sharpness of the apples is countered by the rich butter coating and the emphasis is on the excellence of the ingredients, especially the pastry. The thin apple slices look particularly good in a square or narrow rectangular tart tin, if you have one. The quantities given are for a shallow 23cm (9 in) round tart tin, but adaptability is the key here.
serves 6 - 8
175 g (6 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
25 g (1 oz) plain flour
4 large Bramley apples
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
85 g (3 oz) light soft brown sugar
300 ml (1/2 pint) single cream
a little grated nutmeg, to decorate
1. Line a shallow 23cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.
Peel and core the apples, then slice them very thinly. If you are worried about discoloration, sprinkle the apple slices with the lemon juice.
2. Put the caster sugar and flour in a large bowl. Place the apple slices in the bowl and toss to coat them well with flour and sugar. Remove the apple slices from the flour mixture, shake off any excess, then arrange them in the pre-baked pastry case, leaning, overlapping and with their curved edges uppermost, in concentric circles around the tart (if you are using a round tart tin) or in straight rows (if you are using a rectangular tart tin).
3. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the apple slices have started to become juicy.
4. Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle most of the soft brown sugar over the apples, then pour the cream over the top.
5. Sprinkle on the remaining soft brown sugar. Put the tart back in the oven and bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until it is nicely browned, being careful to protect the pastry edges by covering them with foil, if necessary, to prevent over-browning.
Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle with a little grated nutmeg.
Serve Hot or cold, on its own, or with vanilla ice cream.
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