I really have loved making this buckwheat crust apple tart, it is another of those really satisfying dishes to create and I just get a kick out of everything about making (and eating) it. The history of tarts, shared and personal, sings out to me, it feels so right in summer, the apples, the nectarine jam is so lovely to make. I may not be the neatest baker, I’m enthusiastic and… rustic (apologies to all those highly skilled and precise rural bakers, of which there are an army (what an army that is! defeat by bake-off or by the addictive excellence of chocolate layer cake that distracts the enemy and lures them to a glutenous demise, or maybe (purposefully) over-baked rock cakes fired from slings…), but you know what I mean!
Rustic). And whether you want symmetry or not there is still so much artistry and satisfaction in creating a tart, laying out the apples, glazing them, sprinkling on the almonds. The pleasure of the slice coming away easily and the space it leaves, the pleasure in having created a family dish to share that looks so pretty. It gives and gives.
Fruit tarts make me think of my Granny. Always with a freezer packed with picked fruit for such dishes, her tarts, cooked in her AGA, would appear after dinner, and I would inwardly groan as I wished I had more space and contemplated that intense filling sweetness, though with a greedy eye on both the tart and the custard. Thick with jam they were gorgeous big things that would push me over the edge at the end of every meal. Grandparents’ cooking is always so wonderful isn’t it, their food you can eat and eat, and so unique to them, and so impossible to recreate. I can smell it all now and I’m back there, Sophie the dog (my dearest friend) close by under the table, ready to go rambling together afterwards, and really there is nowhere I’d rather be (though many places I’d like to be also). I’d so much like to watch Granny now and see how she went about things. I’d love so much a welcome hug. I’d love to make her a tart! Such big meals cooked for so many people must’ve been such a feat, let alone finishing with several puddings to go round. I never remember her being much flustered. And those tarts! Her pastry would have been made from white wheat flour and butter I think. I just remember blackberry and plum like a thick intensely sweet jam.
As a coeliac who avoids grains my flour of choice is buckwheat, instead of butter I use a vegan margarine and sugars like coconut sugar instead of refined sugar as they agree with me more. Fruit sugar is very good for the jam as it sweetens like sugar but has half the GI/ GL and so is better for diabetics. It has no nutritional value but being white it keeps the lovely vibrant colour of the fruit. Buckwheat flour pastry has substance, is packed with nutrition and nutty flavour, and goes really well with the sweetness of the fruit. It is crumblier to handle than flour containing gluten, but easy to make into pastry, filling and more dense than lighter flours. I make a thin crust loaded with fruit, and with the crunch of the crust and the toasted almonds it’s just lovely.
Making a quick and easy jam is so much fun to do. Make extra and have some to keep in the fridge for your toast, it really is delicious, quite like plum jam with the skins caramelising and melting in beautifully. The jam adds vibrancy and its sticky sweetness to the pie binding the topping together and giving its beautiful colour.
Perfect for a summers pudding or elevenses treat by itself or served with thick coconut cream, yoghurt, ice-cream or custard…
- just shy of 1 1/2 cups (240g) of buckwheat flour (you can substitute some flour for ground almonds also)
- 2 tbsp tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup (110g) of cold vegan marge or shortening
- if your fat is unsalted add 1/2 tsp of salt, otherwise a couple of pinches
- 6 tbsp cold water, icy if possible
- 2 tbsp sugar, I use coconut
- 2 cooking apples, or 4 tart dessert apples
- 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, or other natural sweetness
- 1/2 large lemon
- 3 tsp vanilla essence or paste
- NECTARINE JAM
- 2 ripe nectarines
- 6 tbsp sugar, I used fruit sugar
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup of water
Gently cut the cold fat into the flour until it has integrated and reduced to pea sized peices or slightly smaller. Add the cold water gradually, handling very gently and forming the mixture into a ball. Don't worry if it's slighty flaky. Transfer to tupperware or clingfilm and refridgerate for 20+ minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Grease your pie dish.
Flour a chopping bard and rolling pin and roll out the pastry thinly. Carefully transfer it to the pie dish. If it breaks don't worry just patch it together and press spare pieces in the gaps, not handling roughly as this makes the pastry tough. Try to get the pastry as thin as you can on the base the crust can be chunkier.
Peel the apples and slice fairly thinly, quickly toss in the juice of half a lemon, vanilla and sugar, if it's a smaller lemon add more especially if you like a tart to be, tart!
Arrange on your tart how you like, whatever pattern you find attractive. I lay one overlapping layer.
Place in the oven, a 1/3 from the top and bake for 40 minutes.
About five minutes or so before the pie is ready to come out start making your jam. Finely chop the nectarines and add to a saucepan on a medium heat with the water, lemon juice and sugar. Stir thoroughly as it cooks. Mash up the fruit with your wooden spoon as it softens. Cook until it has thickened and reduced, which it will quite suddenly so do keep stirring, then remove from the heat. If you still have time left before the pie is ready to come out then reheat the jam on a low heat to loosen slightly.
Spread the jam over the apple tart. I dollop it on over the area and then use a baking brush to spread. You can sieve the fruit jam at an earlier cooking point to remove the skin, but it melts in beautifully and adds flavour and goodness so I wouldn't.
Sprinkle with flaked almonds and put back into the oven for 10 minutes or so, making sure the crust doesn't catch. If you are worried it will then you can toast the almonds in a pan and add them on that way so saving oven-time.
When removed from the heat it can be eaten pretty much straight away, or kept in the pie dish and eaten warm or cold. .
The pastry can be used in sweet or savoury dishes, for savoury leave out the sugar. Add ground nuts for variety and crunch.
SONG OF THE WEEK… Morcheeba ‘Who Can You Trust?’
P.S. WHERE ARE YOU GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF I NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!