While I was growing up in Armagh, I never fully appreciated the landscape that surrounded our wee town because I was too busy being a moody teenager and showing too much enthusiasm for anything would have been detrimental to my social reputation. Now that I'm older and realise that I will never be cool, I eagerly await the harvest season when the countryside comes to life and the orchards, for which the county is known for, are teeming with fruit. Armagh is famous for its apples with the Armagh Bramley being the most common variety to be grown throughout the county. The history of apple growing in Armagh dates back around 3000 years with St Patrick himself planting an apple tree at Ceangoba, an ancient settlement found outside the city, so a love of apples is expected amongst those of us born and bred here! Luckily we have a friend whose family own an apple orchard so we are able to go down at this time of year and pick our own apples to take home. Picking or gathering your own fruit and vegetables is always so rewarding and being able to turn them in to a delicious meal makes it that bit more special. I have been wanting to make my own apple tart for a while so last Saturday we booked in a few hours of pickin' down at the Glass Orchard just outside of Loughgall.
Andrew and I drove down and met up with Marianne and Fergus, two lovely new friends of ours who were delighted to get a day out of the city and in to the orchard. Marianne is a photographer and all the photos in this post were taken by her. She's got a great eye for it and has started branching out in to engagement and wedding photography so make sure and follow her Instagram page here if you want to see more!
The weather was amazing considering it was the first day of October - we had the suns on our backs the whole time and not an umbrella in sight! Even got a go being pushed on a tree swing which I haven't done since I was a child and was like a giddy 5 year old as I was getting higher in the air. We gathered a basketful of Bramleys along with some plums and a wee sneaky box of Katy apples that our friend's Dad smuggled in to my car as I was leaving. Naturally my Mum confiscated the box of Katy's the divil so I was left with a dozen Bramleys for my tart! We had a friend over for dinner last night so it was a great opportunity to get baking. I decided to try a smooth tart recipe - pureed apple makes me feel like a happy little baby and tastes amazing! It was also extremely easy especially since I was a complete cheater and bought ready made pastry! Please don't judge me. The tart went down well thankfully with everyone although it was a little runny so bowls had to be used! Still so many apples to use though so I think I might have to bake up some more treats this week - let me know if you have any recommendations on how I can use them up!
Homemade Apple Tart Ingredients
- 3 Bramley apples, peeled, cores removed, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp water
- 450g/1lb ready-made puff pastry
- 1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
- 1 Bramley apple, peeled, cores removed, thinly sliced
- 75g/3oz butter, melted
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- vanilla ice cream
- icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200C
Place the roughly chopped apples with two tablespoons of water into a lidded pan and cover. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for a 3-4 minutes until the apples have become light and softened.
Use a food processor to purée the apples, then set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, roll the pastry to a circle about 30cm/12in in diameter. Grease the pie dish with butter and place pastry inside.
Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Wait one minute, then brush the pastry again with more egg.
When the apple purée is cold, spread it over the bottom of the pastry.
Layer the thin slices of apple over the apple purée.
Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle over the caster sugar.
Transfer to the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the apples are caramelised.
To serve, cut out slices and place into the centre of plates/bowls with a ball of ice cream placed alongside. Dust with icing sugar and serve.