If you ever find yourself with apples, butter, sugar and flour and in need of a pudding, try this.
It is Elizabeth David‘s Tart aux pommes normande, taken from On Vegetables. The way she writes about food can make a simple plate of cooked carrots sounds a wonderful adventure. She also taught me that less is sometimes more in cooking. A difficult art to perfect.
Anyway, less is definitely more in this case. This particular tart was dashed off in a bit of a hurry so lacks the perfect shape you can get if you’re prepared to spend just a little longer laying out the apple pieces. Despite its simplicity, it is also delicious with a little cream or ice cream or even a little Greek yoghurt. Anyway, do give it a go.
Elizabeth David’s Tarte aux pommes normande
750g sweet apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3-4 tbsp caster sugar
Pate sablee (sweet pastry)
175g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp caster sugar
Melt the 45g of butter in a frying pan, add the apples and 3-4 tablespoons of sugar and cook gently until the apples are pale golden and transparent (I find this takes at least 10 minutes). Turn the slices over gently so as not to break them. If very tightly packed shake the pan rather than stirring. For this reason also avoid cooking apples such as Branleys, as they will just fall apart.
Make the pate sablee (crumbly sweet pastry) by grating the 90g of butter into the flour and rub together with the salt and remaining sugar. Add 2-4 teaspoons of water, a very little more if needed (but less is better as it keeps the pastry light and crumbly).
Shape the pastry into a ball and immediately (without leaving to rest) shape it by rolling or spreading with your hands into a lightly buttered 20cm flan tin (I got away with a 23cm tin here, if that’s all you’ve got). Brush the edges with a little cream or milk and then arrange the apples without the juice in overlapping circles keeping the nicely shaped pieces for the centre.
Bake, with the tin n a baking sheet in a preheated hot oven at 200C for 30-35 minutes, turning the tin round once during cooking.
When done, take from the oven, poor in the buttery juices from the pan (which have ben reheated). Given another sprinkling of sugar (although not too much, part of the charm of the dish is that it’s not too sweet) and return to the even for barely a minute.
Best served hot, serves 4-6.