When I started thinking about seasonal recipes for September my thoughts took a brambly turn, perhaps because I collected over a kilo yesterday without even stretching my arm to its full length.
I have honestly never seen so many plump, jewel-like fruits, and so many still to ripen. I reckon there is a good three weeks harvest still to come. The bushes are just groaning with fruit and the apple trees in the garden are aching with the effort of supporting their crop.
However, despite the abundance of autumn harvest I’m not in a very autumny-leaves-falling –blustery-days sort of place. I’m still trying to squeeze every last drop of juice out of summer and so far the weather is with me.
This is not crumble and custard weather, neither is it gamey stews enriched with a blackberry gloss – so what to do? How to deploy my fruity bounty in a manner appropriate to an Indian summer?
The answer after much rustling through my recipe archive and batter splattered scraps of paper is this:
Apple Tart with Bramble Ice Cream
This pud combo is the perfect seasonal segueway, a transition tart and indulgent, luscious ice cream worthy of a place at any table in the land.
The apple tart in question is a proper French Tarte aux Pommes that hails from Normandy – home of all things apple, including Calvados – as baked by local legend Odile Anfrey. The companion piece – bramble ice cream – would likely be frowned upon by pomme purists but I absolutely love it so who cares.
Bramble Ice Cream
I know this is an ice cream but really it’s a piece of cake.
500 grams brambles (or in translation for English folk – blackberries)
75 grams caster sugar
30 ml water
300 ml whipping cream
Check the brambles over, discarding any stalks and put in a pan with the water & sugar. Cover & simmer for 5 minutes. Tip into a sieve over a bowl (plastic is best) and push through with a wooden spoon. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, whip the cream until thick but still soft – it should fall from a spoon. Then add the fruit puree, mix well. If you have an ice cream maker tip the contents in and follow the instructions. If not pour into a Tupperware and freeze for 2 hours, take out the freezer mash and mix with a fork and return to the freezer.
Repeat this after another 2hours. Then freeze for a further 2 hours, six in total.
Odile Anfrey’s Tarte aux Pommes
There are a few steps to follow but none of it is complicated so don’t be put off!
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
3-4 tbsp cold water
45g unsalted butter
900g firm desert apples, peeled, cored and cut in 8 wedges,
2tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp apricot jam
150ml apple puree (made with 3-4 apples)
3tbsp caster sugar
3tbsp crème fraiche
3tbsp ground almonds
Whizz the flour and salt in a food processor until mixed. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of water and process until the dough holds together. If the mix is too dry add another tablespoon of water. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for around an hour.
While the pastry is chilling peel and core 3-4 desert apples, cut into bite size chunks, place in a small saucepan, cover with a disc of baking paper and put on a low heat until the water in the apple is released and the apples soften. Should not take more than about 5-10mins. If the apples look like burning add a little water or lower the heat. Mash to a puree.
Sprinkle a 25cm flan tin with water. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a round 3mm thick. Line the flan tin with the dough. Chill the flan case in the fridge until firm. At least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
While the pastry is chilling melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the apples and sugar and cook until the apples are tender and golden on all sides, 10-15 minutes. Remove them to a plate as they are done and allow to cool.
Take the pastry case out the fridge and prick all over with a fork. Line the case with a double layer of foil, pressing it smoothly against the dough. Bake the flan case for 15mins. Remove the foil and continue baking until the pastry just begins to turn gold – no more than 5-10mins. Remove the flan case and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat.
Melt the jam and brush it over the bottom of the flan case. Spread the apple puree in a thin layer over the jam. Arrange the apples on the apple puree in concentric rings, working towards the centre. Whisk together the topping ingredients and pour over the apples.
Bake the flan on the hot baking sheet until a knife inserted in the centre of the filling comes out clean, about 20-30mins. If the pastry browns too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil.
Serve hot with the bramble ice cream.
Odile Anfrey’s Tarte aux Pommes comes from a copy of Jane Sigal’s wonderful book Normandy Gastronomique that I picked up in Clarrissa Dickson-Wright’s legendary bookshop, the now long lost Cook’s Bookshop in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. It’s a great book – unfashionably styled but brilliantly written and selling on Amazon for just £3.52. Snap it up!
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