Tart with Heart
I really don't bake apple tart enough. It's the ultimate comfort food and in the Ireland of my youth, every mother and grandmother had her own unique recipe. It’s an easy thing to bake but yet so many places get it wrong – too little filling, too much filling, pastry too thin, pastry too thick, pastry too leathery. I believe, as I do about so many things in life, that keeping it simple is key.
I started baking apple tart when I was a child. Being German my mother didn’t have a recipe so I tried a few and settled on the one below. You can of course adapt it, adding spices to make it more wintery for example but, honestly, there is no need. It is one of those things that I now bake without a recipe so excuse the use of 'handfuls' and 'add a bit of this and that if you like' 😊.
I like a very basic short pastry (flour 300g, butter 160g and water (200ml ish) with a tablespoon of caster sugar added). Make sure the butter is ice cold and grate it into the flour quickly, fold in with a knife adding the water slowly till the pastry comes together. You probably won’t need all the water. Then knead quickly into a smooth ball on a floured surface. The trick is not to handle it too much or it'll become rubbery when cooked. Divide the pastry in two and roll out two equal circles, covering the base and sides of a 25cm/10 inch buttered pie dish with one, letting it drape slightly over the sides. Fill the pastry case with sliced cooking apples (around 7 or 8 medium apples) that you have mixed with a couple of tablespoons of sugar (I don't like it too sweet...add more if you like). You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon or mixed spice if you like or a couple of cloves or handful of sultanas too for a Christmassy flavour. Then place the second pastry circle on top and seal the edges together with a fork, trimming off any excess pastry. You can use this to decorate the top. Cut two steam holes in the top of the tart, brush with milk and sprinkle caster sugar on top. Bake at 200 degrees celsius for 30-40 minutes. The top should be golden brown.