This is an adaptation of a Smitten Kitchen recipe (if you haven’t yet visited the Smitten Kitchen blog, what the hell are you doing here?! Just kidding, please stay. But do also check it out, she’s amazing)
It’s the simplest apple tart, but so delicious, it’s one of those recipes where the finished article is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Crisp, buttery pastry, soft, baked apple slices, and salted caramel bringing it all together. The caramel may seem like a ball-ache to make, but it’s really not, no thermometers necessary, and it’s does transform this tart into something quite special.
Quantity-wise, this can really be scaled up or down endlessly, it’s not so much a recipe, as components that just go together. These quantities will feed probably about 6 people? But it’s wafer thin, so don’t feel bad if it only feeds two in your house…
Salted Caramel & Apple Tart
- 125g unsalted butter, cold and cut into large chunks
- 125g plain flour
- Pinch salt
- 75ml iced water
- 4-6 dessert apples, peeled
- 20g unsalted butter, diced small
- 2tbsp caster sugar
For the caramel glaze:
- 80g caster sugar
- 30g unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
- Generous pinch salt
- 40ml double cream
- Make the rough puff by combining the 125g of butter and the flour with the salt in a mixing bowl. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour but not all the way – you want to stop whilst there are still lumps of butter visible (about the size of broad beans ideally) Pour the water in, then use a butter knife to mix it together to a dough. Wrap it in cling film and press it into a disk, then put it into the fridge for 1-2 hours until it feels firm. Roll it out to a long rectangle, about 3mm thick, then do a letter fold, which means the top third folds down to the middle, then the bottom third folds up over the middle section. Turn it 90’, then roll it out again, exactly the same as before, to a long rectangle 3mm thick, then do the same letter fold. Now wrap it in the fridge and chill for another hour.
- Heat the oven to 190’c fan/210‘c conventional
- Core the apples (ideally with a corer, as this will give prettier slices, but quarter them if necessary) then use a mandolin or a sharp knife to slice them into 2mm thick slices. Roll the pastry out to a large rectangle (no larger than your baking sheet mind) then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment. Arrange the apple slices all over it in an overlapping pattern as you can see in the pic to the left. Leave a border of one inch clear all around the edge. You can be as neat or as rustic as you like, it will taste the same either way, just make sure the pastry is all well covered. Once the apples are all in place, fold the edges of the pastry up and over the apples. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the top, and dot the little cubes of butter over it. Bake on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes, by which point the crusts should be golden brown and crisp, and the pastry on the bottom should be cooked – slide a palette knife underneath and lift it gently to check this. If the pastry needs longer, cover the top with foil to prevent over-browning.
- To make the caramel, put the sugar into a heavy saucepan and add enough water just to wet it. Set it over a medium heat and cook it to a deep golden colour – don’t stir it, just swirl the pan gently to ensuring it is colouring evenly. Once it is a dark golden brown, but not yet smoking, take it off the heat and whisk in the butter. Once the butter is in, add a pinch of salt and then whisk in the cream.
- Once the tart is out of the oven, brush it all over very liberally with the caramel sauce, covering the crust as well as the apples – don’t be afraid to let it pool a little. Serve immediately, with clotted cream, vanilla ice cream, or pouring cream.