Autumn is here and boy, it’s here with a vengeance. Rain is dripping off our over-laden pear tree and the sky is glowering, heavily gray. I’m not usually a dessert kinda guy, but this calls for some sort of pick-me-up. Something involving those pears and the mountain of home-grown apples from the in-laws’.
I love home grown fruit, much much more than the technicolour, perfectly proportioned but anaemic bimbo stuff in the supermarkets. Even more than the more earthy knobbly and flavourful types you find in farmers markets. No apple tastes as good as one plucked fresh from the branch. Cliched, but true.
However, I don’t have just one fruit plucked from the tree, I have bag fulls of bulbous pears and orangey green apples. So, expect to see a few apples and pear dishes here as I try to use them all up. And in more inventive ways as time goes on…
Since I got a Magimix, and so no longer have to rub flour and butter into crumbs by hand (a wearying task at the best of times), this is one of my favourite recipes. So quick, so tasty, so wickedly, butterily (is that even a word?), caramelely good. It’s inspiring a slew of new adjectives.
I like to mix apples and pears, so it’s not, strictly speaking, a tarte tatin. It’s a tarte something else, not sure what. Meh, who cares? It didn’t last long enough to worry about. This is the sort of thing that looks even better when it’s a bit rough round the edges too, a bit rustic. My kinda dish.
What you end up with is a deeply mellow and earthily sweet tarte. The rich caramel balanced by the acidity of the fruit (which is why I prefer dessert apples over cooking ones, the latter just kinda disappear) and lifted by the citrussy zing of the lemon.
Serve it with a tangy but creamy Greek yoghurt and you have a dessert that won’t leave people gasping for a bitter coffee because they’re too riched out. And so goes with pretty much any dinner.
The tarte tatin(ish)
Enough for 8 moderate slices, I serve 4-6, then keep the rest for later (aka for me)
This recipe is pretty much faithfully reproduced from Leigh’s Cookery Bible, except I don’t have any rice flour, so used all plain flour. And I prefer to use demerara sugar over plain granulated, it gives it more of a heavy, savoury-sweet flavour.
Oh yes, I use dessert apples and pears, not cooking apples. So actually, it’s not faithful at all, but it is based on the Leigh’s one. That’s because, to my cost, I’ve learnt not to mess with baking quantities much.
225g plain flour
140g butter (cubed and brought to room temperature)
55g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
110g granulated demerara sugar
1kg or more dessert apples and pears
Zest of one lemon
Put your oven on 190oC
Sift the flour into the bowl, add the butter and rub together with your fingers until it crumbs.
Or, if you’re lazy, whack it in the magimix, making sure you have right mixing attachment, and blitz to crumbs. So much quicker.
Add sugar and beaten egg and mix together until the pastry binds into a yellow ball. Sample some, because y’know, you have to be sure it’s ok.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
Peel, core and slice apples and pears into fine-ish slices.
Melt the granulated sugar and butter over low heat in a frying pan. When they’re totally liquid, add the apples and turn the heat up to medium.
Let the apples and pears caramelize and turn a light brown, it’ll take about 15-20 mins. Stir once or twice to prevent everything from burning. Add lemon zest and transfer mixture to a pie dish.
Roll out your pastry (it should be pretty short aka crumbly) until it’s 5mm thick and carefully lay over apples and press down. Trim the edges.
Bake for 25-30 mins, until the pastry is urning a deep golden colour (but not too brown)
Remove and leave to cool in the dish, when warm turn out on to plate and serve with Greek yoghurt.