Smell of bacon as I fasten up my laces
and a win for my home team.
I wrote this post from my parents' house in Rutland, where beautiful Autumn is firing on all cylinders, and tinging everything with rusty, golden accents. As is often the case these days, I got distracted and failed to hit publish as planned on Sunday. Luckily for me, timings have worked in my favour and it feels satisfyingly serendipitous to share this recipe on the first day of Autumn.
I always forget how much I love this time of year. It's not just how scenic everything is, and there's certainly more to it than being an autumn baby (honestly, I've long been over the excitement I once felt about turning another year older). Autumn days are routed in a return to routine - the new school term, Saturday night TV, the football season - which, while we may not admit it, is quietly comforting after a summer of fun and holidays.
Sadly Autumn never last long enough, as the dark and wet evenings of November take me by surprise each year. At least by then it's fully acceptable to eat mince pies without inhibition and cover everything in fairy lights.
This tart is comforting and golden too, and perfect if you're looking to use up a few cooking apples. I vary rarely crave country life, but it's funny how much a few knobbly windfall apples can tweak at your roots. Any tips for where to spend Autumn in the city?
150g plain flour
75g cold butter, cubed
2 tbsp cold water
90g ground almonds
25g caster sugar
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
3 large cooking apples
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp apricot jam
To make the pastry, weigh the flour into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, then add to the flour. Wash your hands with cold water to cool them down, then dry them thoroughly and rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips. Once the butter is well combined and the mixture is sandy, add enough water so that when you scrunch the mixture, it form a dough. Add the water gradually, and use as little as possible.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead quickly to bring it into a smooth ball. Wrap it up in cling film, then leave it to chill in the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, make the frangipane by measuring all the ingredients into a bowl, and mixing until combined and smooth.
For the apples, begin by filling a large bowl with cold water, and adding a tbsp of lemon juice. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, putting them in the water as you go (this will stop them going brown).
Preheat the oven to 175C. Once the pastry is well chilled, remove it from the fridge and roll thinly on a floured surface. Try and get it as thin as you can, as this will make for the crispest pastry case. Carefully roll the pastry up on the rolling pin, then gently transfer to your tart tin. Use an excess piece of pastry to push all the corners in - this way, it is less likely to tear or catch on your fingernails. Use a sharp knife to trim away any excess pastry.
Spread the frangipane over the pastry evening. Next, layout kitchen roll, then dry the pieces of apple before layering these over the frangipane. Once you have made several layers and used all the apple pieces, sprinkle over a tbsp of sugar, and dot small knobs of butter over the top.
Place in the centre of your preheated oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the apples and pastry and just golden. 5 minutes before you take the tart out, warm the jam with a splash of boiling water, and mix well. Use a pastry brush to coat the surface of the tart with the jam glaze, as soon as you remove it from the oven.