Sometimes it’s hard to let go.
It used to happen to me with my essays at school. I would research and research and want to cram in all those details I found just to prove how much I’d … well … researched. But the essays inevitably ended up being too long and I’d have to edit them – a task almost as painful as the initial writing because I’d grown attached to each detail, I’d look upon it as my own Coward-esque masterpiece and felt that each sentence was the make-or-break element, the one thing that would determine whether I would get an A or a B.
I find the same thing with photography. In this age of digital cameras the classic adage “a picture can say a thousand words” is flipped right over: a scene can take a thousand photos. Then when it comes to whittling the photos down there’s a battle because, to me, so many of them have value. But I know that the onlooker won’t want to see 30 almost identical images of a sliced apple, and I know my hard-drive won’t thank me when those 30 images become 3000 equally indistinguishable others.
And clothes! Why do I get so attached to clothes?! I ascribe human feelings to inanimate pieces of material: “I’m so sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. I just think it’s time for a change. And, well, you don’t go with ANY of my jumpers.”
Some of you might recognise this recipe. It was in fact one of the first I posted on this blog. But it had errors. The photos were limited and poor quality, taken in the days before I realised night-time photography was something only the professionals could pull off. The method was wrong and saw me carefully arranging the apples in the tart case only to splurge sponge over them, smothering their beautiful pattern forever more. The quantities meant you had to make three pastry cases for just the one tart. I mean, where was I going with that??
But the introduction was a sweet one. A nice little anecdote about a shopping trip and the purchase of too many lemons, much to my mum’s dismay and my dwindling delight.
With the revision and reposting of this recipe I felt the prologue should also get an update. It was time to screw my courage, shut my eyes, take a deep breath and severely edit my apple tart essay. Nay! Delete it completely. We can’t hold on forever, and some things are just not worth fretting over, especially if in their deletion we can create something – if not better – at least different. There are far worse things to lose; a few amateur words hastily written are not those.
But I might just have saved them in a Word document by way of consolation …
Do try this tart, the original Pieflanart (for old times’ sake) and you, too, can arrange your apples elegantly atop the sponge for all to see.
175g plain flour
40g icing sugar
60g butter, at room temperature
40g lard, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
About 3 tbsps apricot jam (+ extra to glaze)
140g butter, at room temperature (+ extra to glaze)
140g caster sugar
1 large egg (add a extra yolk if it’s tiddly)
140g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 medium-small dessert apples
Begin with the pastry. Mix the flour, sugar and salt together. Rub in the fat and bring the mixture together. You shouldn’t need to add any liquid at all but if it’s too crumbly or hard then add a dash of cold water.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until thin.
Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry up around it then unroll it over an 11 inch fluted tart tin. Press gently into the edges. You can leave an overhang at this stage which ensures it won’t collapse into the case during cooking, but I trimmed mine by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the case. Just make sure you press the edges back in firmly.
Line the case with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes on 170C degrees fan oven (190C degrees conventional oven). Remove the beans and baking paper and bake for a further 4-5 minutes until just cooked and lightly coloured. Carefully trim any overhang with a sharp knife.
Turn the oven down to 160 C degrees fan (180 C conventional oven).
Next, prepare your filling.
Spread the apricot jam across the base of the tart case so it is evenly distributed. 3 tbsps should be enough. If you use too much it will be forced up around the edges when you add the sponge. If you’re a real jam head then just go for it and have fun :)
Beat the butter and sugar together well, add the egg(s) and beat again.
Sift over the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and stir until combined. Spread this over the jam layer.
Next, peel 3 apples. Cut them into quarters and remove the seeds before cutting each quarter in half again. If you have particularly large apples then you may want to cut each quarter into 3, but the slices can be quite chunky.
Spread the apples out in a nice arrangement over the sponge mix, pressing them in but leaving a side exposed. If you need more, prepare your 4th apple the same way.
Melt a little more butter and brush this over the apples.
Return to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until the sponge is set and golden on top. You can now glaze it with a little jam mixed with boiling water, if you like.
Leave to cool slightly but it is delicious eaten warm.