Cakes & Bakes
Individual Apple and Rhubarb Tart with Lavender Frangipane
Baking in season is something I try hard achieve, but this time of year is probably when it is most difficult. If I’m quite honest I am a bit fed up of root vegetables, brussels, satsumas and the like yet with no signs of the much longed for spring just yet I was looking for a bit of inspiration. Then on a trip to my local supermarket I spotted British Bramley apples and rhubarb, and snapped them up in an instant. I did not know what I was going to do with them but the colours alone put me in a good mood and both of my daughters were excited to see me buying ‘pink sticks’. For the rest of that day and evening my mind was buzzing with ideas. I felt a bit sorry for my husband who was half asleep lying next to me at 11.30pm, and I was sitting up right pad and pen on one side and Ipad on the other asking him if he thought apple and rhubarb went with this or with that. By the time my eyelids finally closed, (thankfully not too much later) I’d got the foundation of a recipe. When I woke up the next day I was really excited to bake my idea. I found it a bit nerve wracking to make as so much time, effort and energy had gone into it already that failure was not really an option. I have of course dealt with many failures before and I get over them (in the end) by putting it down to experience, but this time I really hoped for success. So what did I do with my apple and rhubarb? Well I added another British ingredient, lavender, and included my current favourite tart filler frangipane to create an apple and rhubarb tart with lavender frangipane. The fruit and floral combination is unique but as I hoped it really works. I mean really, really works. When I ate it I tasted spring and this made me very happy indeed. I love the name of the tart too. Sophisticated I think, and would look great on a dinner party menu.
It is true that there are quite a few steps to this recipe but one way to make it a bit easier is to buy shop brought shortcrust pastry which would be a very suitable alternative to making your own. The lavender sugar can also be shop brought, (here is an example, but just note this is granulated sugar not caster sugar so will need a quick whizz in the food processor first for this recipe) or you can easily make your own by combining 500g of caster sugar with 4 heaped tbsps of dried culinary use lavender (example here) in a sterilised airtight glass container. It is best left for 6 weeks or so but can be used after 2 weeks. The dried lavender can be from your own garden if you are lucky enough to have dried some from last year as long as it is any variety of lavender augustifolia (best for use in cooking). If not it is well worth drying some this year to make some lavender sugar. I have recently brought a new cook book called Prepped by Vanessa Kimbell (@vanessakimbell) and there is a whole chapter of recipes using lavender both sweet and savoury.
What you will need
- 6 greased individual tart cases, preferably with the loose bottoms (mine were 10cms diameter)
- baking beans
- rolling pin
- 175g plain flour
- 100g cold butter
- 25g icing sugar
- 1 free range egg yolk
- 1 tbsp icy water
- 3 Bramley apples peeled and cored. Half cut into slices and the other half into small cubes
- 400g rhubarb
- 160g sugar
- 200ml water
- A sprinkling of toasted flaked almond for each tart (optional)
How to make
- I make the pastry in a food processor. It is easy and quick and has so far produced lovely pastry. Put the flour, butter and icing sugar in the food processor and mix until it starts to look like breadcrumbs
- Then add the egg yolk and water and mix until a soft dough is formed
- The dough should come out smooth, if not just knead it gently once you take it out then cover with cling film and put into the fridge for at least 15 mins. I left mine for a couple of hours and it was fine. Come out feeling rock hard but very quickly becomes soft and workable
- Now prepare your rhubarb by adding it to a large saucepan along with the sugar and water. Simmer on a low heat for about 30 mins until soft and cooked. Put to one side to cool
- To make the frangipane mix the butter and lavender sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and mix until they have been combined. Then add the ground almonds and flour and fold in with a large metal spoon. Put to one side.
- Pre heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Now get your pastry out of the fridge and break off a small ball, and start to roll out with your rolling pin.
- One of the best tips I took away from watching the Great British Bake Off last year was to place the loose bottom of my tart tin under the pastry, roll over it so I can see it through the pastry. Then in your mind add another 3-4cms onto the diameter of the bottom of the tart tin and cut round in a circle. Then lift the cut out pastry with the bottom of the tart tin still underneath, and place in the tart tin case. What you should have is enough pastry to cover the bottom and now the sides of the tart tin, with hopefully no cracks or patchwork needed
- Spend some time carefully pushing the pastry into the grooves of the tart tin as this will stop the pastry from folding in when it is blind baked. Then make a few prick marks on thebottom with a fork, place a small round of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and a few baking beans. Then, when all the tart cases have pastry in them, put in the oven for about 12- 15 mins
- Prepare your apples by peeling, coring and cutting them up, and strain your rhubarb by pushing through a sieve until you have pushed as much liquid out as possible. Need to make sure of this to avoid a soggy bottom in your tart
- When the pastry cases have come out of the oven turn it down to 170c/325f/gas 3. Remove greaseproof paper and baking balls and let cool for about 15 mins. Then put a layer of rhubarb on the bottom, sprinkle some of the cubed apple on top of the rhubarb, fill the tart with the lavender frangipane, and finally place some sliced apples on top in a circular fashion to create a pretty pattern. I then sprinkled a few toasted flaked almonds on top to finish if you wish
- Place in the oven and cook for about 30 mins
- Best eaten warm and served with cream or ice cream
Final thing for me to mention this week is that I am blatantly looking for votes for the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Award this month. The blog with most votes at the end of the month wins some Dorset Cereal goodies (most needed in our house as we are cereal monsters) and the coveted winners egg cup! Thanks to everyone who has voted already and those of you who have not I would be very grateful if you enjoy my blog to just pop over and give me your vote. I’ll let you know how I get on.