Donal Skehan's apple of my eye
My frangine tarts offer a luxurious take on the traditional fruit pie.
Apple Frangipane Tarts
My grandmother used to make some of the best frangipane tarts. This is her recipe for frangipane, which results in a sweet and puffy almond filling that makes for a pillowy soft base for autumnal fruits like apples and pears. Her preference was to make this classic tart with pears but it also works extremely well with apples, resulting in a luxurious take on a classic apple pie. You can forgo the apple-brandy syrup below, and instead serve the tarts with a dollop of whipped cream spiked with a glug of the brandy and sweetened with a little icing sugar.
You will need
For the pastry:
250g plain flour
1 ½ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp flaky salt (Maldon is great)
170g very cold, unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
80ml ice-cold water
1 egg yolk, for glazing
For the filling: 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g granulated sugar
100g ground almonds
2 large eggs
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
8 dessert apples - peeled, cored and sliced 4mm thick
For the syrup: 5 tbsp apple brandy, plus extra for drizzling
75g light muscovado sugar
Mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the crumbs are the size of small peas. Transfer the flour-and-butter crumb to a large bowl and make a well in the centre of the crumb. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat together the egg, apple cider vinegar and ice-cold water to incorporate. Pour the cold egg mixture into the well of the flour mixture.
Using two large forks, gently toss the flour mixture into the egg mixture (treat the mixture as though it is a salad of delicate greens, being careful to not over work the dough). Add a little more water, a drizzle at a time, until the mixture just holds together. Turn the dough out onto greaseproof paper, wrap, and chill for a good 30 minutes before rolling out. The dough will make one large tart, two medium tarts, or four small ones.
For the frangipane filling, using a medium bowl and a hand-held mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on a medium speed for three to four minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds and beat on a medium speed for one minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. With the mixer on low speed or with the wooden spoon, beat in the eggs until blended. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla, and salt and beat just until combined. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. If refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for one hour before using.
On a generously-floured work surface roll out individual dough portions into rounds about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer dough rounds onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Spread two tablespoons of frangipane filling in a circle in the centre of each disc leaving a 20cm edge all around with no frangipane. Arrange the apple slices in a circle in the centre. Fold the edges of the pastry inward over the apples, leaving the centre of the apple exposed, and creating a barrier so the juice can not escape as the tart cooks. Brush the outside edges of the pastry with egg yolk. Bake the tart in a hot oven, 210˚C for 25-35 minutes (or until the sugar and juices bubble in the centre of the tarts).
For the sauce, gently heat the brandy and muscovado sugar in a saucepan until almost hot and the sugar is dissolved. Spoon the sauce over the cake.
Remove the tarts from the oven and allow them to cool until warm before enjoying. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream and the brandy sauce spooned over the top.
The wonderful Longueville House in Co Cork is home to some of Ireland’s finest apple brandy. Starting life as their award-winning cider, their brandy goes through a double distillation and is aged in French oak barrels for four years to ensure maximum flavour-depth and colour.