Winter Evening Comfort Food – Toffee Apple Tart

Yum!

One of things I’ve missed about autumn over the last few years has been the deplorable absence of toffee apples. Sickly sweet and sticky they were justified simply by saying “it’s an apple, it’s one of my five a day” but they seem to have been less common recently, and more’s the pity.

About half way through this bout of nostalgia, I got an email reminding me about Butler’s pudding club (yes really!) and it got me thinking, toffee apple…cake?

Google tells me that there are a variety of ways of doing this, from the classic French Tarte Tatin to apple upside-down cake and the recipe I’d like to share with you is one of my favourites: baked suet tart containing caramelised apples, a classic British ‘pudding’ that should take about one hour to ninety minutes to make (including cooking time).

So to start with, you will need:

Scales

2 pint pie dish

Sieve

Mixing bowl

And some ingredients:

180g self–raising flour

A pinch of salt

90g shredded suet – veggie or otherwise

Cold water to mix

4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

120g Demerara sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

Butter to grease

Optional but delicious:

Add a couple of handfuls of raisins and some cinnamon before covering (step 5)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c/Gas 4
  2. Sift together the flour and salt then mix in the suet.
  3. Add just enough water to make a reasonably stiff dough.
  4. Use half of this dough to line the greased pie dish.
  5. Add the apple, lemon juice and about half the sugar then cover with the rest of the dough.
  6. Moisten the edges of the dough and press well to seal.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, spread with the syrup and sprinkle on the remaining sugar.
  9. Bake again until golden brown (another 20 minutes or so)

Once you’ve taken it out of the oven the centre in particular will stay hot for longer than you expect (for the scientists among you, this is because sugar has a very high specific heat capacity), and you should definitely look to be eating it warm, ideally with custard (a quick recipe follows) on a cold Durham evening; there are plenty of those to look forward to!

Quick custard recipe:

290ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways or 1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs, yolks only

1 tbsp caster sugar

Optional ½ teaspoon cornflour (will help with the thickening but can make the mixture lumpy if too much is added)

Method

  1. Heat the milk with the vanilla (if using the pod) and allow to just come to the boil (when the milk starts to rise up the surface of the pan – but be careful, it will go very quickly once it starts). Meanwhile, beat together the eggs and sugar (and cornflour, if using) in a large bowl.
  2. While whisking vigorously, pour the hot milk over the eggs and sugar. When completely mixed together, return the mix to the pan.
  3. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon. This will take 5–6 minutes.
  4. Drain into a bowl, remove vanilla pod (or add essence).
  5. Serve immediately

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