It was a lovely family weekend. My aunt Arleen was visiting from Kent for the weekend and my son and family coming over on Sunday for a meal. I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen so prepared a Boeuf Daube on Saturday morning before my aunt arrived, so it could just be reheated the next day for the family meal. Dishes like this seem to benefit from being made ahead anyway.
I had in mind a provençale meal to recreate my recent Nice experience. To start I’d just offer some little pieces of toast with tapenade to have with our aperitif as I’d had in Nice. What could be simpler?
For dessert I decided to make a simple tarte aux pommes. I bought some all-butter puff pastry and basically made it in the way I made the tomato tart last week – but this time with apples rather than tomatoes.
Simple Apple Tart
- 1 pack (about 350g) ready-made all-butter puff pastry
- 3-4 medium-sized eating apples (I used Cox’s Orange Pippin)
- 30g butter, melted
- a little flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon ground almonds
- 2 dessertspoons caster sugar
Peel 3 apples, cut into quarters and remove the core. Slice thinly into segments. Have another apple to hand in case this isn’t enough once you start laying the apple on the pastry. I prefer to use eating apples to cut down on the sugar needed and Cox’s Orange Pippins cook well.
Grease a baking sheet with a little of the melted butter. Dust with a little flour to ensure the cooked tart doesn’t stick to the bottom. Unroll the pastry onto the baking sheet. Cut strips of about 1cm from each side. Brush the strips with a little beaten egg and lay along the edge; then brush the top with more egg. This is to make a little ‘wall’ to the edge of the tart. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the base to help keep the pastry crisp under the apples (I did this because I’d done the same with polenta when making the tomato tart and it worked well.)
Neatly lay the apple slices in rows on the pastry (or however you fancy decorating it!). Brush the apple with the melted butter. Sprinkle over 1 dessertspoon caster sugar.
Put into a preheated oven at 200C/Fan 180/Gas 6 for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry has risen round the edge and browned nicely. However, your apples probably won’t have browned and caramelised at the edge!
It was at this point I realised I should have replaced my broken blowtorch. So I had to improvise. I turned the grill on. Then I covered the pastry on the edge of the tart with strips of foil. I sprinkled over another dessertspoon of caster sugar (you’d need to with a blowtorch too) and put under the hot grill.
Watch carefully. The apple caramelised quite quickly – so don’t take your eyes off it. When it looks nicely browned, remove from the grill. Carefully transfer to a serving plate or, if like me you don’t have the right size and shape large plate, a wooden board. Of course you could eat it straight away, but I made it earlier in the day to eat cold.
There was little left to do come dinner time. I’d peeled a mix of white and sweet potatoes for a mash to go with the daube. I toasted little slices of a baguette for the tapenade just before eating while my son got glasses out and opened some champagne. We were ‘doing’ French so it was a wonderful excuse for champagne rather than our usual prosecco. And I had a bottle of gorgeous Pol Roger in the fridge – a gift from some time ago – that definitely required drinking!
I decided to also offer some smoked salmon pâté (bought) with the toast and some hummus. The hummus was for 22-month-old Benjamin’s benefit. Benjamin would live on hummus and olives if we let him. We had our aperitif in the sitting room so the boys (4½ year old Freddie as well) could run around. Then we all sat down for the main course. It was just so rich and gorgeous, we all loved it. I had a large green salad on the side too.
Then it was dessert time and the apple tart was carried through with a choice of crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream to go with it.
We ate nearly all of it! It looked large at about 32cm x 24cm and you’d think it would serve 12. Well not when feeding my family! But of course it’s a thin layer of pastry with just a thin layer of apples on top so we weren’t really being greedy when seconds were asked for. And it’s always wonderful to feed enthusiastic and appreciative guests.
It really is a quick and easy dessert – but not any less wonderful for being simple. And it was a perfect end to our provençale meal.