Recipe: Apple tart to die for

A WORTHY FINALE: Apple tart with bruleed caramel.
A WORTHY FINALE: Apple tart with bruleed caramel.

Many people - blokes in particular, I find - are partial to desserts featuring apple. So here's a particularly gorgeous apple tart.

The shell is made from buttery short pastry. Caramelised apple wedges rest in creamy baked custard which is bruleed before serving.

This gem of a pudding is perfect with a glass of sweet dessert wine, sauterne style, made with grapes affected by botrytis, the noble rot.

If I were heading to the gallows, I would request a slice of this tart with a glass of the best French sauterne as my final dessert. Although I'm not sure whether hangings have ever included three-course meals with accompanying wines.



Switzerland is the spiritual home of apple baked with custard in a tart shell. This is a version we at the Ruth Pretty kitchen have created and we love the caramel within the custard and the toffee on top.

400g Sweet Short Pastry
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Caramelised Apples
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
300ml (1 cup + 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) cream
60g (1/4 cup + 2 tsp) vanilla sugar
50g (1/4 cup) sugar (for brulee)

Lightly grease a 25cm round, loose-bottom tart tin with butter or baking spray.

On a lightly floured bench, roll pastry to a 32cm circle that's 2mm thick. Carefully place pastry into tin by rolling it loosely over rolling pin, then picking up and rolling it over the tin. Press into tin without stretching it, being careful to exclude any air, and allow pastry edges to overhang edges of tin.

Prick pastry base with a fork, making sure fork marks are close together. This will help to prevent it from rising during baking. Place in refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200'C.

Lightly brush pastry base with egg white. Pour 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons caramel syrup from Caramelised Apples on to pastry base and spread to make a thin layer. Take apples and arrange neatly across pastry base on top of caramel.

To make vanilla custard: Place egg yolks, egg, vanilla extract, cream and vanilla sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Using a hand whisk, gently whisk until combined, aiming to avoid bubbles or froth.

Slowly pour vanilla custard over apples. Trim pastry so that it is level with rim of tart tin.

Place tart into preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until custard is set and pastry is golden-brown and crisp.

Remove tart from oven. Place on a cooling rack and cool. Proceed to next step or cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for up to one day.

When ready to serve, sprinkle evenly but lightly with sugar and, using a chef's blow torch, brulee top of tart. Serve at room temperature.


Makes 400g (enough for one 25cm tart)

90g (9 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
90g (1 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp) icing sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
175g (11/4 cups) standard (also called plain) flour

Place butter and icing sugar into bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. On slow speed, mix until combined.

Add egg and combine.

Add flour and mix for 1 minute or until pastry begins to form a ball.

Remove from bowl to a lightly floured bench and knead into a ball. Flatten to a disc shape.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to five days. Alternatively freeze for up to 3 months.


Makes 625g

This is the apple filling for the tart. However, apples cooked this way make a wonderful dessert themselves. Serve them warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

600g-700g (4) Gala or Braeburn apples (you need an apple variety that holds its shape), peeled, quartered and cored
125g ( 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 Tbsp) sugar
125ml ( 1/2 cup) water
75g unsalted butter, diced

Cut each apple quarter into 3 wedges.

Place sugar and water into a heavy-based frypan over a low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring to the boil and cook (without stirring) until a dark caramel has formed. Swirl frypan regularly to avoid uneven colouring. Remove from heat and cool for 1-2 minutes. Add butter and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

Add apples and return to a medium heat. Stir regularly for 8-10 minutes or until apples are tender and golden.

Remove from heat and gently pour into a sieve over a large bowl. Retain caramel and apples in separate bowls. Cool to room temperature and set aside until ready to use, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 days.

The Dominion Post