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This dessert is so pretty, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. I often make it when we have guests, or for example, this weekend when we had a very special Birthday to celebrate. It’s not difficult to make, but it is time-consuming. On the plus side, it can be made in stages in advance; and if you like, you can cheat by buying your own pastry.

Ingredients

For the pâté sucrée pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 90g softened, unsalted butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks

For the apple filling

  • 700g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • a few tablespoons of water – added a little at a time
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar

For the topping

  • 450g pretty pink or red apples, cored, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons of apricot jam

The pâté sucrée

This is the trickiest part of the dish. It can be fiddly to handle, often tears, and I usually end up with a bit of a patchwork pastry base. The good news is, no-one will ever know.

First things first; pre-heat the oven to 190C, then line and grease a loose-bottomed flan case.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle, and add the butter, sugar and egg yolks. Rub in the butter, sugar and egg yolks with your fingertips, until you get ‘breadcrumbs’.

Using a knife, gather the breadcrumbs into a ball of dough, knead briefly, but don’t overwork it. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the ‘fridge for half an hour.

Roll out the pastry, and ease it into the loose-bottomed flan case. Trim off any excess pastry.

Prick the pastry with a fork, line with baking paper, and scatter baking beans over the top. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until the pastry is crisp.

The apple filling

The important thing here is not to let the apple burn or dry out. If you like you can make the filling the day before, or make it well in advance and freeze it.

Put the apple chunks in a thick-bottomed pan. Add water, just a couple of tablespoons at this stage. Heat gently until the apple is soft. You need to keep an eye on it all the time, adding more water when necessary.

For a really smooth filling, press the apple purée through a nylon sieve. This is a bit of an effort, but well worth it.

Return the sieved purée to the saucepan, add the sugar and bring to the boil. Stir, stir, stir. Be really careful not to burn it. You want to finish up with a quite thick purée.

Allow to cool, then spoon it into the pastry case.

The topping

Arrange the apple slices in circles on top of the tart. Bake for 30-35 minutes – but keep an eye on it – you want the apples to be tender and just a little brown at the edges.

Melt the jam – you could sieve it if you are after perfection – and brush it over the top of the tart. Allow the jam to set.

Enjoy served at room temperature with cream or ice-cream.

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