Alan comments, “For me, Valentine’s is all about sharing with your loved one and enjoying sweet treats. One of my favourite desserts is this French classic tart with a British twist. It’s rich, sweet and the perfect end to a cosy Valentine’s dinner with the (ahem) apple of your eye.”
Don’t worry about the puff pastry, the recipe includes an easy rough puff method instead of classic puff pastry.
7 Large firm local apples, like a Braeburn
110g Cold butter sliced thinly
For the rough puff pastry:
250g Strong plain flour
250g Butter at room temp but not soft
140ml Cold water
A good pinch of fine sea salt
For the clotted cream:
200ml Liquid full fat cream
Preheat a fan oven to 140ºC (280°F), pour the cream into a baking tray to form a thin layer in the bottom. Place the tray in the hot oven and cook for approx 45 mins, until the cream starts to brown at the edges. Scrape all the cream into a bowl and whisk. Pass through a sieve, pushing everything though. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hrs. This is your clotted cream.
For the pastry, cube the butter and mix it with the flour and salt in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it’s roughly mixed in. It’s good if there are still streaks of butter. Make a well in the middle and mix in the water until it forms a dough. Make a rough rectangle, cover it with cling film and chill for 20 mins. Roll it out to half a centimetre, then fold it in half twice. Roll it out again, and fold it in half twice again to form a rectangle. Chill for another 20 mins. Finally, roll it out to half a centimetre again and cut a 17cm diameter circle. Chill this until you need it. If you don’t feel confident here, you can use a pre-rolled all-butter puff pastry but I always think making your own is so much better (and a great way to show your loved one that you’ve made an effort).
Next, preheat the oven to 190ºC (380°F). Take a 16cm diameter saucepan and spread the butter to form a thin layer covering the bottom. Sprinkle the sugar over this and place the pan in the fridge. Peel the apples and straighten off the top and bottom. Then cut them in half vertically and remove the core. Place the apples curved side down in the pan, making sure they are very tightly packed. Take your pastry from the fridge and place it over the pan. Tuck it in tightly around the edge of the apples. Make a few small slits in the pastry to let the steam escape and chill again in the fridge for 20 mins. Then place the pan over a low heat, the butter and sugar will form a caramel and start to bubble up. Continue cooking for about 7-10 mins. Finally, place the pan in the oven and cook for 1 hr. Remove and leave to cool. Once it has set, reheat the pan gently on a low heat so that the caramel softens. Cover the pan with a plate and tip out the tart. Serve it with a generous portion of the homemade clotted cream. www.alanstewartfood.com
First published in the January/February 2019 issue of The Local Buzz.
Images: Cecilia Diaz Betz