Shop-bought puff pastry is one of those miraculous inventions that turns the near impossible (or at the very least the thoroughly time consuming) into what can only be described as idiot-proof. As easy as pie. Or, as the case may be, as easy as a tart, which is pretty much just a pie lying on it’s back… which is kind of appropriate.
This is so easy that you don’t even need to actually like your guests in order to muster up the energy to make it for them. It is, however, so beautiful and dramatic when you turn it over that you’ll insure that your guests end up liking you. So don’t bother if you don’t want them coming back for seconds.
- 3 firm pears
- 3 apples
- 100g butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 3 cardamom pods (or 1tsp ground)
- 1 large cinnamon stick (or 1tsp ground)
- 5 cloves
- 2tbsp brandy
- 500g block puff-pastry
Peel and halve the pears and carefully cut out the cores. Do the same for the apples but cut them into quarters. If the fruit seems to be very juicy, leave them in the fridge to dry out for a few hours (you can also leave them in overnight, slightly sprinkled in lemon juice to stop them going too brown).
Put the sugar, butter and spices in an oven-proof frying pan (about 20cm) and cook over a high heat constantly stirring and shaking the pan. The butter and sugar should melt together and then begin to separate and turn a dark toffee colour. Be careful with it, caramel is ridiculously hot. No Seriously.
Put the apples and pears in the pan and toss them into the sauce. Cook them for around 10-12mins. Don’t worry, they won’t burn. Splash in the brandy and let it flambe. Flambe is, in my opinion, a much camper way of saying please be careful, this could take off your eyebrows. Take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 200’C. Roll out the block of puff pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. For people down under a pound is much the same thing as a dollar only thicker and it feels much more like real money (think 2 dollar coins stuck together). Using a plate for a template, cut a circle in the pastry, it should be slightly larger than the pan you are using. Press the edges with your fingers to thin it out a little.
When the pears have cooled you can pluck out the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods. Some people like to leave them in to be artsy but really, have you ever accidentally bitten into a cardamom pod? Not good my friends, not good. Arrange the fruit in the pan, cut side up. I went for a sort of flower arrangement with the apple slices around the edge.
Put the puff pastry disk on top of the fruit and tuck the edges around the sides nice and snugly. Pierce the pastry with a fork and then put the pan in the oven for 15mins. If there is a lot of juice bubbling around the edges then drain a little of it off at this stage and then put it back in the over for another 15mins, reducing the heat to 180’C. The pastry should be golden brown.
Take it out of the oven and leave the tart to stand for 10mins (this allows the caramel to set slightly). Then put your serving plate on top of the pan and carefully, carefully flip it over.
It’s beautiful! Like a firstborn, or a sunset, or a unicorn! Glossy like the flaxen hair of a medieval wench! As plumptious as the bosom of a barmaid! More sexually enticing than warm apple pie! And other stuff…
This tart tastes sinfully and unforgivably good. Sweet and spicy and sticky and juicy and all things that are even remotely good. The only thing that makes it better is ice-cream. Eat it straight away. Not that you could manage not to…