I’m never shy in this column about my use of such obscenities as ready-rolled puff pastry. Puff takes ages and has a propensity towards disaster if not made with diligence. But this bake uses shortcrust. Shortcrust is super easy, quick and an excellent skill to have up your sleeve. So use ready rolled if you wish, but I beg you to make it from scratch. If you do go for the ready-made stuff, make sure it’s ‘all-butter.’
My gran always used to use half stork and half lard in her pastry – and it would give an excellent crumbliness every single time. But today, I don’t think there’s an excuse not to use butter. And to be honest, go for the good stuff. It might be £1.50 instead of £1 for a 250g stick, but posh butter will make a huge difference to your pastry, and help fortify it against the tartness of your filling. And I like this filling tart. It’s one of my favourites and a classic: Bramley apple and rhubarb, with a little dried ginger. It’s one I use regularly in order to pad out my dwindling frozen rhubarb supplies over the winter months. Keeping it on the sour side is even healthy. ish. Without a second layer of pastry to go soggy underneath this pie, there’s no excuse to have a second scoop. Smothered in custard – full fat, of course.
First, preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Search out something to use as a deep pie dish – a tart dish or even an ovenproof frying pan will do at a push.
Make your pastry. Into a large bowl, weigh your flour. Chop your butter up into chunks and chuck this in your bowl too. Rub these together between your thumbs and fingers until you’ve got a bowl full of stuff not unlike breadcrumbs.
Add your water and use a knife to mix everything together until lumpy. Use your hands to work everything into a single ball of dough. Don’t add any more water; don’t be afraid to work it a little longer if it’s not coming together.
Wrap your pastry in cling film and chill it until it’s time to use. Meanwhile, make the filling:
Peel, core and chop your apples and place them in a pot with your chopped rhubarb. Add in your sugar and a splash of water and place on a medium heat. Stirring regularly, stew your fruit until soft but still chunky. Taste and add more sugar as appropriate.
When your fruit is stewed, scoop it into your pie dish. Lightly flour a clean, dry work surface and roll your chilled pastry out until it is the thickness of a £1 coin. Place this on top and trim round the edges with a knife.
Make a small cut in the middle to let the steam out, brush with a little milk to glaze then bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is a golden brown. Serve hot, with custard.