Seasonal Produce (November): Apples, Pears
For this delicious classic, hunt for apples or pears that are a bit past their best, or fallen from the tree if you’re lucky enough to come across them.
For best results make your own pastry. It’s a very easy one and is beautifully crisp, absorbing the caramel on one side and staying lovely, dry and crisp on the other.
8oz plain flour 2oz butter 20z lard 4-6 tbs water
Mini tart cases or silicon mini muffin trays
8 apples or pears (I love a mix!) I lemon 3 oz butter (organic) 6oz golden caster sugar (fairtrade)
Prep time 40mins. Cooking time 15mins
Pre heat oven to 200
Weigh out and sieve the flour into a nice roomy bowl. Cut the butter and lard into small cubes, cut into the flour by criss crossing two cutlery knives until crumbs form, then rub with your fingertips, lifting and dropping to aerate the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. If using a processor pulse instead.Place mixture back in the bowl and add the water to bring together until the dough comes cleanly away from the bowl and all the mixture is combined.Knead lightly and form into a disc. Wrap in film and then chill for 30mins.
Now The Filling!
Peel core and cut the fruit into eighths then slice half a centimeter wide. Squeeze the lemon’s juice over the fruit as you cut it to prevent discolouring and to add a nice tang to the flavour. Melt the butter and sugar in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. When melted move to a high heat and take the caramel to a nice golden colour.
Add the fruit and reduce to a medium heat. Stir gently until the juices and caramel are combined. Allow to cook until the fruit is soft but holding its shape. Pass through a colander. Spread the fruit out over a tray to prevent further cooking. Return the caramel to the pan over a high heat. Reduce until the caramel thickens and darkens. Large bubbles will form, be brave, let it go a deep terracotta. Remove from heat. Dip the base of the pan in cold water if you are worried it is going too far or starting to burn. Better to stop it and return it to the heat than have to start all over again.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until the thickness of a 50p coin. Cut discs that are slightly larger than the tart cases or silicon mould you’re using. Spoon some caramel into the case, enough to cover the base. If using loose bottom cases, line with foil then baking parchment first. Spoon fruit on top of the caramel, again to cover and come to nearly the top of the case. Place the pastry disc on top, tuck under the edges and press until fruit and pastry are nicely compacted. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until pastry is dry and golden. Cool a little before you turn out, if still a bit hot wear rubber gloves.
Serve with lashings of clotted cream and a glass of something wonderful!