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Classic pudding

08 November 2013

iStock

IT HAS been a good year for apples. I have little outcrops of apples ranged on the tops of bookcases in dark parts of the house. This Apple tart is how I am using them.

For the pastry:

200g (7 oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons cornflour
125g (4 oz) butter
1 medium egg, beaten

For the filling:

3 cooking apples, peeled, cored,  and cut into wedges
lemon juice
demerara sugar

For the custard

160ml (¼ pt) milk
160ml (¼ pt) double cream
2 medium egg yolks
2 teaspoons cornflour
40g (1½ oz) caster sugar
freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry, sift the flour, cornflour, and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the butter, and rub together with your fingers (or use a food processor) until you have a fine breadcrumb texture. Add the egg, and form it into a dough. Chill in the fridge for a while (it helps to wrap it in clingfilm).

To make the custard, bring the milk and cream to the boil. Mix the egg yolks, cornflour, and caster sugar in a bowl, and pour the hot milk over them, whisking them together. Cook it gently over a low heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add a little nutmeg, cover it, and let it cool.

Set the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6. Roll out the pastry in a big circle to line a pie dish, and bring it over the top as well. Prepare the apples and fill the dish, adding lemon juice and sugar to taste, gathering the pastry over like a big apple dumpling, leaving a little hole in the middle. Pour in the custard.

Glaze the pastry with egg or milk. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, and then brush the pastry with a little honey or maple syrup. Let the custard finish setting as it cools.

Simple apple squares

4 eating apples
a little icing sugar
a little caster or demerara sugar
butter
100g (3½ oz) apricot jam or
apple jelly
one block puff pastry

Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6. Cut the puff pastry into six pieces, and roll out each piece into a square. Put them on a baking sheet, prick with a fork, and chill in the fridge for ten minutes.

Core the apples, but do not peel them. Slice them very thinly, dust with a little icing sugar, and arrange them on the pastry squares. Top with a few flakes of butter. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Brush the tarts with the jam or jelly glaze.

You can make the tarts in advance, and serve them cold. For an extra flourish, melt 100g caster sugar with 100ml water in a pan to make a syrup. Bring to the boil for a few minutes, until it has caramelised, and zigzag over the tarts.

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