I am a fan of apples in all their guises and as it’s Sunday it is just the day to relax and enjoy slow eating – and what can be nicer to follow on from a gorgeous, succulent roasted chicken than a spectacular circle of apples on a sweet pastry and glazed all over with caramelised sugar? Mmmmm. As gilding to the lily, just serve with a small side accompaniment of deeply-rich vanilla ice cream. What could be nicer? I will add a photo once I get round to it!
This really is a Lyonnaise speciality that has now become such a classic. This will make enough for 4 people. It takes around 2 1/2 hours in total for prepping, chilling and cooking.
Light Apple Tart
For the Pȃte Brisée
200g plain flour
90g unsalted butter
40g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of cold water (more if needed)
For the Tart
4-6 firm (slightly tart) apples (such as Granny Smiths)
60g melted unsalted butter (plus a little more for greasing)
125g caster sugar
Make your pȃte brisée by sifting the flour onto a work surface and making a large well in the centre. Whack away at your butter with a rolling pin to soften it if it is slightly hard; then put the butter, egg yolk, salt and most of the water in the well along with the sugar and work these ingredients together with the fingertips of one hand until they are partly mixed. Now gradually draw in the flour, pulling the dough into large crumbs using the fingertips of both hands (think rubbing-in method); if the crumbs are too dry you may need to add a little extra water and then press the dough together – here think shortbread – it should be soft but not sticky. Now we need to work the pastry so using the heel of your hand push the pastry away from you on the worksurface and then gather up with a spatular and repeat for 1-2 minutes until the dough is pliable. Roll into a ball and wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm (the pastry can also be left overnight in the refrigerator – or even frozen at this point).
Onto making your apple tart. Divide your dough into four and roll each piece into a 20cm (8 inch) circle and transfer these to two buttered baking sheets. Trim the rounds with a knife using a pan lid or plate as a guide. Peel, core and slice the apples as thin as you possibly can and starting at the outside edges of the pastry arrange the slices, rounded sides slightly outwards, in concentric circles on the pastry, overlapping the slices slightly. Make sure that you cover the dough completely and especially the edges to avoid scorching during cooking. Brush the apples with the melted butter and sprinkle each tart with a good tablespoon of caster sugar. Now cover the sheets with cling film and place back in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours if you are making in advance.
Preheat your oven to gas6/200C/400F. Take the tarts out of the fridge and, once again, sprinkle each tart with a good tablespoon of caster sugar and when your oven is up to temperature bake them in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the pastry is crisp. In the meantime preheat your grill to it’s highest heat (you can use a blowtorch here instead if you wish) and pop the cooked tarts under the grill until the apples are browned and caramelised. Serve hot.