In some countries, iodine is added to salt for public health reasons. In Ireland we are an island with a large fish and dairy component to our diet, so our salt has no iodine added, but when I mention salt, feel free to substitute whatever kind of salt your requirements dictate.
I wanted to use up some eating-apples which were going soft (instead of using a cooking-apple), so this kind of tart, with the slices decorating it, was an attractive choice. These quantities are for an 8″ fluted baking tin with a loose bottom.
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Pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry)
- 210 g plain flour
- 5 g salt (see tip)
- 25 g caster sugar
- 35 g butter
- 35 g lard
- 35 g margarine
- 6 medium apples (see tip)
- 1 dsp demerara sugar
- 4 drops vanilla essences
- splash lemon juice
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp smooth apricot jam
Sift the flour, salt, and caster sugar into a large bowl.
Dice the butter, lard, and margarine, keeping it as cold as possible, and mix it into the flour.
With chilled fingertips, combine the mixture quickly but gently, lifting it up and scattering it back into the bowl to let the air in and keep it cold.
When it is the texture of coarse sand, add 1–2 tbsp water and bring it all together into a well-mixed lump. It should pull free from the sides of the bowl.
Wrap in clingfilm and put into the fridge.
Peel and core four of the apples and chop small.
Mix the chopped apples and about 50 ml water in a pan and bring to the boil, then turn down very low and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
Very hard apples like Granny Smiths may need more water.
About half-way through (when the chunks of apple start to soften), add the demerara sugar and vanilla essence and mix well.
When done, turn into a cold bowl and leave to cool.
Get the pastry from the fridge and roll it out into a circle 9–10″ in diameter depending on the height of your baking tin.
Lift the pastry into the tin, gently pushing the sides down and out so they fill any fluting. With a sharp knife, trim the pastry level with the top edge. Any cracks can be patched with the cut-off scraps.
Spread the filling evenly over the base.
Peel and core the other two apples, and quickly slice them fine and lay the slices in ever-decreasing circles over the filling.
You may want to toss the slices in a little lemon juice as you slice them, if the apples are the type which go brown when exposed to air.
Baking and glazing
Bake for about 30 minutes until just starting to caramelise the apple. After 20 minutes, take it out, quickly sieve a little icing sugar over it, and put it back in to finish.
Heat the apricot jam with a few drops of water in a small pan and when mixed, use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer over the exposed apple as a glaze.