Caramel and Apple Tart

This tart is a classic tarte fine aux pommes with the addition of a dark caramel sauce. It is not as sweet as my butterscotch tart for the sugar in this recipe is burnt before any cream is added.

There is always a danger of becoming cocky with simple dishes such as this. I once made it as part of a demonstration to a large theatre with fellow chef Alastair Little. I didn’t notice until too late that the oven, though brightly lit, had never been switched on. Alastair blustered while I grilled the tart so that it would at least look edible, but I’m sure we fooled nobody.

Ingredients

    For the Puff Pastry

  • 450g (1lb/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) plain flour (4 cups unbleached pastry flour)
  • teaspoons salt
  • 25ml (1fl oz/ tablespoons) white wine vinegar

For the Apple Tart

  • ½ batch of puff pastry (above)
  • 4 Cox’s orange pippins or tart eating apples
  • 25g (1oz/¼ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon caster (granulated) sugar
  • a little icing (powdered) sugar, for dusting

For the Sauce

  • 250g (9 oz/ cup) granulated sugar
  • 175g (6 oz/ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 150ml (5fl oz/ cup) double (heavy) cream

Method

To make the pastry, place 400g (14 oz/ sticks) of the butter in the fridge to chill thoroughly. Meanwhile, gently melt the remaining 50g (2 oz/½ stick) in a small saucepan.

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the vinegar, melted butter and 200ml (7fl oz/¾ cup) of cold water to make a dough. Roll it out into a cross shape and incorporate the chilled butter as instructed. You need only half the batch of puff pastry for this recipe.

To complete the apple tarts, roll out the finished pastry as thinly as possible into four flat discs and prick them all over with a fork.

Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Peel, core and slice the apples, then spread them across the top of the pastry discs. Dot with the butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the apple tarts on a baking sheet and cook in the oven until crisp – this will take 15 to 20 minutes.

To make the sauce, heat the sugar until it starts to caramelize, then stir in the butter. When the colour deepens to a nutty brown, let the mixture cool for a few seconds, then add the cream and bring to the boil.

Pour the caramel sauce around the hot apple tarts, dust with icing sugar and serve. A scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream can be a welcome addition at this stage too.

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