… so I was in the little village of Laceby a few weeks back having our Mini serviced and I was approached by a chap who’d clearly come out of the service yard. He told me that he and his wife were very disappointed that I wasn’t at the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair last year as they’d turned up especially to see me. It’s hard to know what to say in situations like this – I love what I do and writing a blog is a platform that by its very nature is out in the public domain, but there’s an element of anonymity provided by the internet. When it comes to food-demoing you’re very much out there. People can see who you are, how you work and, most importantly, can actually taste your food then and there. Of course this doesn’t really worry me as I really enjoy the live aspect of it all and it really thrills me when people feed-back that they’ve looked forward to me being somewhere or that they’ve gone away and cooked my food is always surprising and rather humbling.
So the point to this all is, is that I’m back at the show and demo-cooking in The Lincolnshire Kitchen, which is very exciting. I love this show! It celebrates everything I love about gifting; firstly, there’s my love for Christmas itself. It’s quite simply my favourite time of year – there’s just so much joy around. Time for family and friends and eating wonderful food and the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair really reflects this.. I mean, two halls filled with Christmas! Secondly is all the artisan producers creating beautiful things that clearly show the love in the making and therefore make the gift all the more special. The fair brings all these brilliant people together under one roof, from cheese makers to candle makers and everything in between.
As one of the demo-cooks I’m also really privileged as we get to cook with some of the gorgeous produce. I know I have my eye on some very scrumptious looking festive mincemeat from Saints and Sinners Preserves to use in the special frangipane mince pie tarts I’ll be making. Last time I was there I made my Christmas Cake Brownies, which went down really well but they’re a breeze to make and I always like to challenge myself – especially when I’m in front of a live audience. This year’s recipe is a twist on the classic mince pie, jazzing it up a little with a very special shortcrust pastry which I will be latticing on top of the tart so if you’ve ever wondered how to create that lovely lattice look, or just want to come along to see me making a mess of things, then do feel free to pop along… the show is at the beautiful Lincoln Show Ground and is on the 26th and 27th November… now, talking of lattice…
apple, almond and ginger lattice tart
so this divine little pie is more like my mums apple strudel than an actual apple pie as you’re using grated apple mixed with sultanas and almond flakes that are baked from raw so they don’t become the delicious but gloopy mess inside your traditional apple pie. In fact everything about this tart reminds me of mums cooking… she makes these little strudel pastry whirl biscuits when she has leftover pastry that use the same ingredients in the same way and they’re completely addictive. I’m also using my favourite and now go-to almond shortcrust pastry which is quite frankly the best sweet shortcrust pastry on the planet. Part pastry, part marzipan it’s so simple to make and yet so heavenly, I implore you to make it. This pie makes for a lovely way to use up all the windfall apples around at the moment as the apples you use here really don’t need to be pretty but I would implore you to use eating apples rather than cooking apples as they don’t get much more than a sprinkling of sugar so a tart cooking apple would be a bit too sharp. A note re the lattice-work… I find latticing really easy, particularly on un-cooked pies where there’s no hot filling to melt the pastry. The trick is a patient and steady hand and lots of extra pastry… don’t scrimp on the pastry at all, you have enough here for a 20cm round pie tin or an oblong tin like i’ve used here, with plenty of pastry to spare… you’ll also find that a fluted pastry wheel makes everything look a lot cleverer than it really is, however if you’re still flummoxed then try this terribly cheesy video on how to…
for the almond and cream cheese pastry
300g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
112g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
100g full fat cream cheese (I used cottage cheese which was excellent)
75g ground almonds
1 egg yolk a little milk to bind
for the filling
3 or 4 medium eating apples – medium grated (I kept the skin on)
75g almond flakes
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon blackcurrant jam
i’m using a 22cm long and 7cm wide fluted oblong loose-bottomed tart tin which i’ve liberally buttered and pre-heated the oven to 170C
make your pastry by adding the flour, ground almonds, sugar and butter into a bowl and rubbing it together with your fingertips until you have a breadcrumb texture, then add the cream cheese, egg yolk and a little drop of milk and get your hand in like a claw and bring the pastry together into a ball of dough. Flatten it out into a thick disk and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 mins
after 30 minutes take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into two even portions, placing one portion back into the fridge whilst you roll out the first portion on a well floured surface… I like my pastry a medium thickness and because this pastry is so damn good you want it to be quite thick!
carefully line your fluted tart tin insuring your gently press the pastry into the fluted sides – trim the edges with a knife
take the jam and spread it evenly onto the raw pastry in the tart tin followed by half the grated apple which you want to spread out so it roughly covers the jam, then sprinkle on half the sultanas and half the almonds followed by 1 teaspoon of ground ginger and 1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
create a second layer with the remaining grated apple, sultanas, almonds, ground ginger and sugar then set aside whilst you roll out the remaining pastry
roll out the pastry into a shape that completely covers your tart, then using a knife or a fluted pastry cutter cut the pastry into even strips roughly 2cm wide.
using alternate trips lay them across the tart with spaces in between… I like to lay them in a diagonal diamond pattern with large gaps in between as I like to see the tart filling underneath… do not press down the edges
once these are all laid down, take one of the remaining strips and begin to weave it in the opposite direction going under and over each strip as you pass it. Continue this way until all the strips are used and you have an even lattice pattern… then push down the edges into the edges of the pastry and trim as you go
brush the top of the tart with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little cater sugar and then bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is a rich golden brown
eat and of course, enjoy!