My home is perched atop a hill in Frome, one of Somerset’s finest market towns, while my boat is moored in Dorset which, as a foodie, means that I am living in one of the best parts of the world! My home base of Somerset is probably best known for cheddar cheese and cider, with rolling fields, ancient apple orchards and caves supplying the local famers markets, food festivals, restaurants, pubs, cafes and me with fantastic local produce!
If I had to pick one foodstuff to sum up Somerset it would be apples; they pop up everywhere! You’ll find them in delicious sparkling ciders, in huge vats of scrumpy at local shows and being pressed by hand at food festivals.
The Somerset apple year begins in winter when we still wassail in the orchards – 12th night sees folk gathering to lay toast and pour cider at the roots of the trees to drive out any bad spirits and encourage the trees to produce a bumper crop in the new year – it’s a good excuse to share hot mulled cider and spiced apple juice around a fire and chat with friends! In Spring the trees pop on their fancy dresses and show off their beautiful blossoms to the bees and we wait all summer to see what autumn will bring. Apple Day is celebrated with fresh juice from presses large and small, with toffee apples and with cider!
Then, of course, there is apple in pies and cakes. Shortcrust topped apple pies, apple crumbles, apple turnovers, apple cake and apple muffins. Today I’m sharing my favourite with you – it combines really good Somerset cider and fabulous Bramley apples in a rustic apple tart. Serve it up with a dollop of whipped cream, a jug of custard or a scoop of ice cream and, of course a glass of ice cold cider!
I cheated here, because I had hungry people circling me, and used ready made shortcrust pastry to line my tin to get my tart on the table quickly. If you have more time however, and want to make this really authentic, make your own pastry and bung in a handful of grated cheddar to the mix for a true rural Somerset vibe!
- 500 g block of ready made shortcrust pastry
- 2 kg bramley apples
- 150 g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 60 ml Somerset cider
- 150 g apricot conserve
- 2 tbsp butter or margarine
Grease a 25cm flan tin. Roll out the pastry on slightly floured board, lift it carefully into the tin and press gently into shape. Trim the excess then press the pastry up around the edge again so it stands proud of the tin to allow for shrinkage. Prick all over with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.
Peel and core the apples and slice thinly. Reserve the neatest ones to decorate the tart, pop them in a bowl with 25g of the caster sugar and the lemon juice and toss to coat. (This will stop them going brown)
Put the remaining apples in a saucepan with the water, cover and cook until soft.
Add the rest of the sugar, the vanilla, butter/margarine, cider and apricot conserve to the cooked apples and cook, uncovered and stirring frequently until you have a thick purée.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180 Fan, line the chilled pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is dry and beginning to colour slightly.
Spread the apple and cider mixture evenly in the pastry case. Arrange the reserved apple slices prettily on top and bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until the apple slices are beginning to caramelise.
Serve hot, warm or cold with cream, custard or ice cream.
Of course, the problem with whipping up an epic tart like this is that people will scoff it down willy nilly until their tummies hurt. Did you know that over 40% of people suffer from heartburn and indigestion once a month and that December sees a rise in heartburn of 25%? Stress can trigger it, as can eating too fast like my lot, it’s exacerbated by eating late or at irregular times as so many of us do when we are trying to juggle busy lives. Rennie is the UK’s favourite heartburn and indigestion tablet and is worth having to hand if you’ve cooked something as epic as this cider and apple tart and you have over indulged, it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
For a finishing touch, and if you want to get that shiny stickiness on your tart, brush it with a little warmed apricot conserve. It is delicious hot but, if you can wait, it is better cold when all the flavours have developed. What would be your local Taste of Britain?
Sponsored post written in conjunction with Rennie but all thoughts are my own.