It's no secret that I'm a fan of puddings so when I was struggling to find inspiration for a main course for an upcoming dinner party it won't be much of a surprise to hear that I quickly abandoned the idea of a sensible, nutritionally balanced meal in exchange for something much more fun - Pudding Club! It's a theme I've come across in restaurants from time to time and the idea is simple - a light starter is followed by a selection of puddings for everyone to sample.
After much deliberating I finally settled on my four puddings (plus a plate of fruit to add a bit of balance and virtue!) and over the next three posts I'm going to share the details of each one with you. Not surprisingly there was a fair bit of debate about which pudding was the best and I don't think any pudding was singled out as the outright winner so I'm going to write about them in ascending order of preference based on my personal opinion.
So, in fourth place (which of course is relative as I was pretty happy with the way they all turned out) is the French Apple Tart. This is a classic recipe that I have made in the past and is, in fact, one of the inspirations for this blog (after making one of thee about three years ago I thought it looked so pretty that I took a picture of it. Then I had the idea of taking pictures of all the nice things I cooked and, well, the rest is history). This time, however, although it tasted nice I felt there was a bit too much filling and not enough sliced apple on top. Also, the pastry didn't stay a crisp as I would have like. This is the recipe I used but next time I might try out a different one.
French Apple Tart
(original source unknown)
80z/225g plain flour
pinch of salt
6oz/175g unsalted butter
1oz/25g icing sugar
2lb 4oz/1 kg cooking apples (approx five)
1oz/25g unsalted butter
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 dessert spoons lemon juice
1 medium-sized egg yolk
3oz/75g caster sugar
3oz/75g ground almonds
2-3 red dessert apples such as Royal Gala, washed
1 tbsp caster sugar
8oz/225g apricot conserve
1) Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour using the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar then gradually stir in 15-30ml (1-2 tbsps) cold water to make a soft dough. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
2) Peel the cooking apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Chop into small pieces then place in a pan with the butter, lemon rind and 1 dessert spoon of lemon juice and cook until the fruit is pureed. Take off the heat and stir in the egg yolk, caster sugar and ground almonds and set aside.
3) Place the pastry on a floured surface and roll out to a 30cm circle. Use a rolling pin to lift the pastry on to a 11 inch loose-bottomed, greased, flan tin. Gently press into the sides of the tin and prick the base using a fork. Line the base with greaseproof paper fill with baking beans, rice or similar and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.
4) Remove the flan case from the oven, fill with the apple puree and smooth flat. Cut the dessert apples into quarters, remove the cores and slice very thinly using a sharp knife. Arrange over the puree in circles and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
5) Melt the apricot conserve and remaining lemon juice. Sieve into a bowl and use to glaze the flan. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the tin.