An artistic apple tart or a gooey apple cake – two delicious recipes for the perfect autumnal dessert.
Strolling round the supermarket, you’d be forgiven for believing there are only a handful of different types of apple grown on British soil, given the endless trays of Gala, Granny Smith, Braeburn et al lining the shelves. But the UK is home to more than 2,000 apple varieties, each with its own distinct flavours and characteristics.
The names alone are something to behold: Peasgood’s Nonsuch, Winter Banana or Bloody Ploughman, anyone? We’re in prime apple season right now, so hit up your local farmers’ market to discover a wider range of local specialities. And they are such a versatile fruit that new cookbook Apple is devoted to them. Here are two recipes to choose from: an artistic tart or a gooey toffee apple cake.
Rose de pommes tart
Preparation time: 50 minutes, plus chilling
Cooking time: 30 minutes
For the pastry:
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
125g butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
1⁄2 tbsp whole milk
For the custard:
500ml whole milk
1⁄2 vanilla pod (bean), halved and seeds scraped out
160g caster sugar
4 tbsps plain flour
For the filling:
4 tbsps strawberry jam
110g butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
500g red eating apples
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
Step 1: To make the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest and butter and rub them into the flour and sugar with your fingertips until you get a crumble-like mixture.
Step 2: Add the egg and milk. Work with your hands until you have a dough. Flour the dough lightly and cut in half. Wrap both halves in cling film and pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Step 3: To make the custard, put the milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a heavy saucepan, then bring to the boil over a medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together to form a thick paste. Stir in the flour.
Step 4: Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and very slowly and gradually pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and heat gently until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Lay cling film on the surface of the custard to avoid a skin forming. Set to one side.
Step 5: Take a pastry half out of the fridge and leave to come to room temperature. (Use the other half for a future tart.) Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 and grease a 23cm tart dish with butter. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Press into the dish and prick the base with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. While the pastry is still hot, spread the jam onto the base.
Step 6: For the rest of the filling, put the butter and sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Do not let the mixture boil. Leave to cool.
Step 7: Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl and stir in the melted butter and sugar. Cut the apples in half, then core and slice them as thinly as possible using a mandolin and add the slices to the bowl. Ensure the apple is covered with the liquid and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Step 8: Pour the custard into the base until it’s half full. Take one slice of apple at a time and roll one around another. You’ll need about four slices to create a rose. Cut the base of the rose flat and place into the custard. Repeat until the tart is full.
Step 9: Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Sprinkle the tart with brown sugar and bake for 20 minutes.
Toffee apple cake
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
For the cake:
175g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
100g ground almonds
200g eating apples, such as Chivers Delight, peeled, cored and sliced
For the toffee sauce:
200ml double cream
175g light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp black treacle
Vanilla ice cream
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4, grease the base of a springform cake pan and line with baking parchment.
Step 2: In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger and baking powder.
Step 3: Add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture a little at a time, mixing well in between and introducing a tablespoon of the flour as you go. Once all the flour has been added, pour in the ground almonds and sultanas and mix well.
Step 4: Add three-quarters of the apples slices to the mixture and stir in before spooning the mixture into the pan. Arrange the final pieces of apple on the top of the cake in a circular pattern.
Step 5: Bake for 1 hour until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the springform ring and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Step 6: To make the sauce, put the cream in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the butter and sugar and stir until dissolved and smooth. Then add the syrup and treacle and stir until melted.
Step 7: Serve the cake with the hot toffee sauce and a hefty dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Both recipes from Apple: Recipes From The Orchard by James Rich (£20, Hardie Grant), out now.
Photography: Jacqui Melville