apple and almond tart
Filled to the brim with crisp apples, and accompanied by an indecent amount of jersey cream, there’s no delight quite like a freshly baked tart
Allens Farm was a favourite of mine, supplying me often with good produce from their Kentish cherry orchard. Tucked away behind high-banked roads near Sevenoaks, it was famous primarily for cobnuts, but produced a host of marvellous fruit boughs, too. The trees – instead of growing in serried ranks, standing to attention – were wonderful, ancient, and grew in a seemingly random fashion to a great height.
To climb the trees and pick a fine harvest there were a few of those lovely, old, not to mention cleverly shaped, ladders that flared at the ground and narrowed as you climbed into the branches, laden as they were with the abundant dark fruits. Lured by the seldom-seen beauties in the cherry orchard, I was up the ladder in a trice. Within not even a minute, I was ordered down off the ladder by the gentlest farmer, who issued a kind reprimand that the ladders were of a great age and not so steady.
On the other side of the tree was a metal scaffold that had a platform set high enough to reach the upper branches, by which their joyful burden could be accessed more securely. Ah well, there’s an allegory for you – bye-bye romance and hello sturdy and sensible. Of course it got the job done and amid much laughter if memory serves.
Abutting the cherry orchard was a great field of cobnuts that were harvested by hand. A few Southdown sheep grazed among the trees – a peerless lamb that fed upon the orchard’s windfall and made for marvellous eating. There were plums, too, and a few pears as I recall. And, of course, apples.
I love apples, delighting in their myriad varieties and colours, and their varying textures and flavours, which range dramatically from sweet and crisp to the most magnificently sour. They chivvy along a joint of pork, or a duck or goose, very well indeed. Compotes and delicate apple sauces and salads can brighten the Sunday roast marvellously. That said, little compares to an apple pie, that marvel of the British table.
It is a good manoeuvre to make the pastry and the frangipane the day before.
Serves 4-6For the pastry170g plain flour100g unsalted, cold butter1 tsp icing sugar, sifted1 whole egg1 tbsp ice cold water
For the frangipane50g unsalted butter, softened50g caster sugar1 egg yolk50g whole almonds, ground
For the applesJuice of 1 lemon6 firm, crisp apples such as a russet, cox’s, braeburn or jonagold1 tbsp caster sugar