This recipe has become a little bit of an obsession.
It all started when I frequented a cafe in Tavistock, Devon, as a child. It served a deep-dish apple tart that was topped with a fudgy caramel topping, but when the cafe changed hands the menu changed and the tart was never served again.
I have since glimpsed the tart under various names in unexpected places like carveries and Morrisons Bakery, and though I have found images of it on the internet there are no recipes. A lot of people are willing to make it if I pay them, but there are no instructions for how to make it myself. This is rather frustrating!
About 18 months ago I made this Apple Fudge Tart in an attempt to replicate the dish, but though it was tasty it was nothing like what I had been aspiring to. Today, after a few months of intelligence gathering and careful calculation, I tried again.
I made my own pastry for the first time since GCSE food technology. I always imagined it to be a lot of effort and involve a lot of fat, but (especially with my friend the food processor) it wasn't really that much work. The hardest part was forming a pastry disc that might successfully hold a filling. To jazz it up a bit and tie the recipe in with my monthly challenge, Baking With Spirit, I exchanged half of the water with whisky. This idea came from Ellen and Jaqueline over at Bake It With Booze, the concept being that it makes the pastry extra flaky and imparts the flavour from the whisky. This worked a treat - not even is the pastry nice and flaky, but the kitchen smelled like Christmas when it was cooking (I assume because of the spice in the spirit).
My deductions led me to the idea that the topping of this mythical tart was caramel sauce, so I used a recipe from Mel at Sharky Oven Gloves. I think my caramel was on the verge of burning so it's very dark in colour, but it still tastes pretty good.
I've therefore still not made the caramel slice I remember - if anyone else knows what I'm trying to describe (try looking at the google images link) please help me out and tell me how to make it. I will be seriously grateful.
It turns out I made something more like a cross between a deep dish tart and a tarte tatin, but it tastes really good despite not being what I had intended. Half the cake has gone and it's only been two days, so it can't be that bad...
For the pastry (adapted from BBC Food)
- 250g Plain Flour
- 110g Salted Butter
- 30g Caster Sugar
- 30mL Cold Water
- 30mL Whisky
For the apple filling
- 5 Bramley Apples
- 150g Caster Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 50g Plain Flour
For the caramel sauce (recipe from Sharky Oven Gloves)
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 60mL Water
- 175mL Double Cream
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line a deep pie dish or 12" springform tin.
- There are two ways to make the pastry: if you have a food processor, dump all of the ingredients in and whizz until it clumps together; if you don't have a food processor, rub the dry ingredients into the butter with your fingertips to form a crumble consistency, then stir in the water and whisky to form a dough.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
- Roll out the dough and try to get it to form a disc, then use the rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie dish/springform tin. Prick all over with a fork.
- To make the filling, peel, core and chop the apples, then toss them in the sugar, cinnamon and flour.
- Tip the apple filling into the pastry and try to ensure it is level.
- Bake in the oven for 45 mins, or until the filling is soft.
- Upon removal from the oven, use a spatula to press the apple filling down to ensure the top of the tart is flat.
- While the tart cools, make the caramel: place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan and cover with the water.
- Heat on a very low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, then turn the heat up to medium-high.
- Do not touch the sugar, but keep an eye on it until it turns a golden caramel colour.
- Remove from the heat immediately and whisk in the cream.
- Allow the caramel to cool, then pour onto the apple tart.
- Let the tart firm up in the fridge overnight, or for at least 4 hours, before serving.