Caramel Apple Granny Tarts
Years ago, one of my lovely Blackmore Vale Magazine readers wrote in to ask if I had a recipe for Caramel Apple Granny. I think she may have had it on holiday in the Lake District. I'd never actually heard of such a thing and was intrigued by the name.
I set to work researching it and discovered it's very hard to pin down! This elusive sweet treat is difficult to define as there are so many different versions. Is it a cake? Is it a pudding? Should it have a pastry base or one of crushed biscuits? Should the filling be caramel custard or like an apple cake? Should it be finished off with a sprinkling of crumble as well? Should the caramel and apples be inside or on top?
Whatever the truth of the matter, all versions consist of at least two layers and contain apple and caramel: always a mouth-watering combination.
Here is my version in the form of individual tarts: an all-butter pastry shell spread with caramel and topped with a light apple cake containing chunks of apple. If you like, you can add a little pinch of salt to the caramel to enhance the flavour. Take it from me, it's just the business!
You should even have enough cake mixture left over for a couple of bonus apple fairy cakes as well.
Authentic or not, these tarts taste delicious and are equally good warm from the oven with pouring cream for a lunch-time pudding or cold with a cup of tea at tea-time.
For the Pastry
- 160g plain flour
- 80g cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 20g golden caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
For the Apple Topping
- 50g softened butter
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 75g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 level teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 medium egg
- 25g ground almonds
- 75g dessert apple such as Cox ‘s or Braeburn, peeled and diced
- Plus: an additional 25g diced peeled apple
For the Caramel Layer
- 10 teaspoons dulce de leche or caramel spread
- Tiny pinch of salt, optional
You will need a muffin tin with 10 cups greased and a 10cm fluted cutter
Preheat oven to 180C (fan ovens) or equivalent
Making the Pastry
Tip the flour into the bowl of your food processor and add the butter and salt. Whiz into fine crumbs. Add the sugar and whiz briefly. Add the water and whiz again.
Once it is starting to form big crumbs and clump together, turn it onto a lightly floured board and knead it gently into a ball. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to a thickness of just less than ½ centimetre.
Cut out 10 circles with the cutter and transfer them to the prepared tart tin, smoothing them into the cups to ensure close fit and well-shaped tarts.
Making the Apple Topping
Whiz butter and sugar together in processor until pale and fluffy. Add raising agents to the weighed flour and sieve half over the creamed mixture. Add the eggs, covering with the rest of the flour and whiz briefly. Add the almonds and whiz again. Add the 75g diced apple and whiz until combined, smooth and glossy.
Finally, remove the blade from your processor, scrape any mixture back into the bowl and stir in the remaining 25g of diced apple.
Assembling the Tarts
Stir a pinch of salt into the caramel and spoon a teaspoonful into the base of each tart. Divide the apple mixture equally between the tarts. Smooth it gently with the back of a clean teaspoon round the edges so the caramel won’t bubble through.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until the apple topping is risen and golden and the pastry is cooked. Leave to settle for a few moments before easing from the tin with a small palette knife. Cool on a wire rack.
Bonus Fairy Cakes
Any leftover apple mixed can be baked as little fairy cakes: spoon the mixture into standard size cake cases and stand in a tart tin or muffin tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Store in an airtight container when cold.
In the absence of a 10cm cutter, you could use the outer of a 10cm mini-flan.