I first served this simple yet delicious Apple Tart at Just Desserts, a restaurant I co-ran with AD Singh and Naomi Khatau in Mumbai in the 1990s. The flavours were classic and universally loved. But the way we cut the apples was unique. The rum-soaked raisins gave a special Christmassy feel to the dessert, which went on to appear my menu at Under The Over, the restaurant I started at Kemps Corner in 1992.
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, chilled in refrigerator
- 150 gm unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- 3-5 tbsp ice water
- ¼ tsp salt
For Apple Tart Filling
- 7-8 Granny Smith apples
- 1 cup apricot jam
- 1 cup golden raisins, soaking in rum
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp soft butter
- ½ tsp nutmeg powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 lemon, juiced
- In a food processor, put in flour and salt, and pulse to combine.
- Add butter and pulse 6-9 times or until the pieces are the size of peas.
- Pour in 3 tablespoons ice water and pulse only until the dough is completely moist. Do not process so much that the dough forms a ball. The dough should hold together when pinched between fingers but should still be crumbly. If it’s too crumbly, add a little more water – a tablespoon at a time – and pulse, till it’s moist.
- Transfer dough to a plastic bag, or overturn onto plastic wrap, shape it into a ball and flatten into a disc. Seal bag, or cover dough in plastic, and refrigerate.
- You can also do all this by hand. Start by stirring flour and salt together with a fork in a medium-sized bowl.
- With the tips of your fingers, gently mix in butter, combining the pieces with flour, to form a crumbly dough with pea-sized pieces.
- Pour in 3 tablespoons ice water and continue combining gently with a fork or your fingertips, till dough is moistened and just starts to form a ball.
- Gather dough together with your hands and gently shape into a ball. Place on plastic wrap or into a plastic bag, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate.
- Peel and core apples and cut in half (north-south) through the core. Put the halves into a large stainless steel bowl with ice water and lemon juice to prevent discolouring.
- When ready, remove apples one half at a time, pat dry with paper towels and start slicing.
- Cut the apple halves into very thin slices, perpendicular to the core, but don’t cut them all the way through to separate them. Try to leave them attached at one end.
For Tart Base
- Dust your work surface with some flour and place the refrigerated dough disc on it. Dust some flour on the dough and roll out to a ¼-inch thick disc or 1 inch larger than your pie dish.
- Dip your fingers in soft butter and daub the inside of your pie dish. Loosely roll the dough onto your rolling pin to lift it off the work area, and then unroll it across the face of your pie dish.
- Gently press dough into place, making sure there are no air bubbles between the dough and dish. Trim the edges.
- With a fork, tap dough several times to allow air to escape when baking. Refrigerate dough-filled pie dish to firm up dough base before filling.
- Heat up apricot jam with a tablespoon of water and bring to a boil. You can do this either in a microwave or on stove.
- Remove pie dish from refrigerator and brush some of the apricot glaze across whole dough face.
- Take an apple half, put a few raisins in the core channel, and place it, flat-side down, with the slices perpendicular to the rim (in a radial orientation), pointing towards the centre of the dish.
- Complete outer rim with apple halves, making sure to pack them tightly together. Finish another row until you fill as much of pie dish with sliced apples as possible.
- Fill the crannies, where the apple halves come together, with a few rum-soaked raisins.
- Lightly brush apple tops with some apricot glaze.
- Combine icing sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg and dust onto the fruit using a tea strainer.
- Dot each apple half with a small dab of butter and bake tart in the middle of an oven at 190℃ or 375℉ for 30-40 minutes, till the apples soften and crust turns golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool. As it is cooling, brush top of the apple tart with the remaining apricot glaze.
- Serve either warm or refrigerated. Either way, serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.