Mam’s Apple Tart Mam is my beloved mother. A famously reluctant cook she was, however, a dab hand at apple tarts. Could make them in her sleep. This is utterly delicious and brought memories of childhood rushing back. Makes 12 For the pastry 170g plain flour 55g icing sugar 110g butter, cubed 1 egg yolk cold water (if necessary) For the filling 5 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped 2 tablespoons caster sugar 2 tablespoons water 1 cinnamon stick and 4 cloves* *Obviously my mother didn’t use such stuff. Any Irish woman found adding flavouring to food in the 1960s could have been stripped of her citizenship.
Grease a 20cm pie tin (like a cake tin but the side will gently slope outwards. Sometimes the sides will be ‘fluted’, that means frilly. There is nothing wrong with this.) You can make this pastry in your food processer if you’re lucky enough to have one. (If not, see the instructions on the previous recipe for making pastry by hand.) Sieve the flour and icing sugar together, then add the butter. Use the paddle attachment until the mix goes sandy and there are no lumps of butter still visible. Add the egg yolk and mix again. The pastry should gradually cohere, ie start looking like pastry. If it still looks dry and crumbly (this is unlikely) add a tablespoon of cold water and mix again. Wrap the lump of pastry in clingfilm, then put in the fridge for at least an hour. Meanwhile, put the 5 chopped cooking apples in a heavybottomed saucepan. (To be quite honest, I didn’t know you could even get cooking apples any more. I thought they were something from the olden days.) Bash the 4 cloves (this releases their oil) and add to the apples, along with the cinnamon stick. Add the caster sugar and water and stew over a gentle heat. However, to quote Mam here, ‘Go aisy! You don’t want the apples to turn to mush.’ When the apples are soft but still lumpy – this should take about 20 minutes – test for sweetness. If you think they’re a bit sour, add more sugar. Take the pastry out of the fridge and remove the cling film. Divide the pastry into 2 ‘halves’, one slightly bigger than the other. Shape the bigger half into a round, then place on a piece of clingfilm, about 30cm by 30cm. Place another piece of clingfilm – roughly the same size as the first one - on top of the pastry, then use your rolling pin to flatten the pastry. To confirm, your pastry is enveloped between both pieces of cling film and your rolling pin is rolling over the top piece. »» pastry 16