- 8 braeburn apples
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- ½ tsp flaky sea salt
- 375g block all-butter puff pastry
- Plain flour for dusting
- Peel, core and halve the apples. Don’t worry if they turn brown – you won’t notice in the finished tart. Put the sugar in a 20cm ovenproof frying pan (measured across the base) with 50ml water, then melt the sugar slowly over a low heat. Once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat and bubble for 5 minutes or so to give a golden caramel (don’t let it get too dark – see above right).
- Take the caramel off the heat immediately and stir in the butter – it will foam quite vigorously. Sprinkle the caramel with the sea salt (it will melt into it), then arrange the apple halves on top, cut-side up, so they fill the pan – slice any leftover apple into wedges to fill in the gaps (the apples will shrink as they cook). Put the pan back over a gentle heat, then cook for 5 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let the apples cool completely.
- Heat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin, then lay over the cooled apples in the pan. Trim the pastry using the edge of the pan as a guide, then carefully tuck it inside the edge around the apples, making sure they don’t move. Bake for 30 minutes until dark golden and puffed. Remove from the oven, stand for 5 minutes, then carefully invert the tart onto a serving plate.
- Don’t be afraid to cook the caramel to a lusciously dark stage with this recipe – too light and it won’t have that essential stickiness. You’re looking for a rich, reddy brown, almost mahogany colour. Having said that, you need to watch the caramel closely, because it turns quickly and can easily burn. If it does this, the caramel will taste bitter. As the colour starts to turn dark golden, gently swirl the pan (don’t stir – and take care because hot sugar is very, very hot). If you think for one moment it’s going too far, dip the base of the pan in cold water to halt the cooking process (have a sinkful at the ready!).