Apple and almond crumble tart
If you’re a buttery flaky crunchy crust fan, is this the pie for you. As it happens, I like flaky crunchy buttery crusts, and I like to think I’m also pretty good at making them now (it helps that my kitchen is usually freezing, I’ll admit). This apple tart is for those who like their desserts buttery yet light, not jaw-tinglingly sweet or strongly flavoured.
The focus for this tart is definitely the crunch, not just from the side crust but from little sprinklings of almond throughout the crumble topping. You can use a combination of chopped almonds and ground almonds, or roughly grind your own and sieve the mixture to separate the bits out. This ensures the slight crunch on top, and the dense, smooth almond base under the apple slices that soak up a lot of excess liquid they emit during cooking.
My favourite thing about this tart is that, due to being quite thin, you can hack off a rather large looking slice without feeling too guilty. My next favourite thing is that you don’t have to cook the apples first, making it a nice apple tart to make in warmer weather, especially autumn when apples are properly in season and at their peak.
Daintier-than-your-usual apple and almond crumble tart
makes one 9.5″ tart, or up to 10″ – use a tart tin with sides at least 1″ high and a removable bottom!
- 150g unsalted butter, cubed
- 2c plain flour (you can substitute a little stoneground wholemeal/wholegrain/wholewheat flour in, up to a third and I bet you won’t even notice – not in a negative way at least)
- 3 Tbs caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- enough cold water to bring it together into a firm dough (start with 1/4c)
- 2 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1/3c caster sugar
- 1/4 c ground almonds*
It’s best to make this in a much larger batch, then use only what you need and freeze the rest (remember to label). Then you can always have fruit crumble in a flash.
- 25g unsalted butter, chopped
- 1/4c light brown sugar
- 1/2c plain flour, or stoneground wholemeal flour
- a few Tablespoons of quick cook rolled oats
- a few Tablespoons of chopped almonds*
* You can buy these separately or just whizz about 1/2c whole, unpeeled raw almonds until finely chopped but not completely ground. Then sieve out the ground stuff and use the coarser bits on top. I like this way better as you get the skins in and the almond bits look more speckled – plus the skins are full of goodness.
Using a fork, your fingers, two knives, or a pastry cutter, cut/rub crust ingredients (except water) together until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can leave a few dice of butter in as long as they are no bigger than 1cm. This will make for a flakier crust. Add water and mix with a wooden spoon to bring dough together. Get your hands in there and squeeze the shaggy bits together to gather them up into a dough ball. Keep adding cold water, a Tablespoon at a time, until there are no more floury bits and you form a firm ball of dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is a little smoother. Shape into a circular disc, and put in fridge to rest for about 30 minutes. Many recipes tell you to wrap in plastic but in this case, it is not necessary, as the dough will not dry out in half an hour.
Meanwhile: Using a fork, your fingers, two knives, or a pastry cutter, cut/rub crumble ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can leave a few dice of butter in as long as they are no bigger than 1cm. Set aside in fridge. You can also peel and slice the apples in this time. Drizzle slices with the lemon juice and toss the slices with the zest. Do not toss in caster sugar until ready to place in the cooked pastry lined tart tin, or you will get a lot of water coming out!
Preheat oven to 200C (400F), with a rack centred. Remove pastry from fridge, roll out until about 4mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Place in your tart tin (mine has sides about 2″ high), and trim off any excess. You don’t need to grease your tart tin, especially if it’s non stick, as this pastry is pretty buttery! Save the leftover dough for future sweet tarts by shaping into a disc and freezing – once you build up a big enough collection, all you need to do is defrost them! Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork in multiple places and bake for about 20 minutes until the tart has shrunken down the sides a little. It will still be soft and the middle will have puffed up – poke the puffed up bit with a small sharp knife in a few places and pat back down with the back of a spoon.
Toss apple slices in caster sugar. Sprinkle the ground almond over the base of the cooked pastry shell, then arrange the apple slices in two layers over the almonds. Sprinkle with the crumble topping. Bake for another 30-40 minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and the crumble is golden brown in splotches. Cool on a rack for about ten minutes before removing.
Serve alongside some good vanilla ice cream, and preferably eat it the day you’re baking it. This is a bit like home made cookies – great, but not mindblowing the next day!