Warm apple tart has a brilliantly sharp flavour and versatility that allows it to transform from homely to elegant. The apples need to shine, so whatever pastry or other filling you use make sure they support, rather than conflict, with the apples. Here, I've flavoured the butter almond pastry lightly with cardamom and ground ginger, but you could instead use an equal measure of ground allspice or nutmeg if preferred.
Cardamom shortcrust pastry
seeds from 5 cardamom pods
1 tsp ground ginger
50g ground almonds
200g plain flour
50g icing sugar
150g butter, softened
2 medium egg yolks (from 60g eggs)
3 tsp cold water
For the filling
7 or 8 dessert apples*
grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 medium egg whites (from 60g eggs)
75g castor sugar
75g ground almonds
75g tahini, stirred till smooth before measuring
extra sugar to taste
leftover pastry or flaked almonds to finish
*Use a sweet-tasting apple, known as dessert apples, as they hold their texture when cooked and turn almost translucent.
1. To make the shortcrust, grind the cardamom seeds to a powder with a mortar and pestle then combine with the ground ginger, almonds, flour and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter then mix the yolks with the water and work this through. The paste will be very soft and sticky, but just scoop it onto a sheet of non-stick paper, fold the paper around it to form a two-centimetre-high slab, then chill until firm. Let it soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out. This cold rest helps give the dough the best consistency for rolling.
2. Line a 25-centimetre round, deep fluted tart tin with the pastry and freeze it until firm. Line the pastry with non-stick paper weighed down with baking weights and blind-bake at 170C (150C fan) for about 40 minutes, until barely coloured, removing the paper and beans after 20 minutes to allow the base to crisp slightly.
3. For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples and cook in a frying pan with the butter, lemon juice (reserve the zest) and sugar, to taste, until the juice evaporates and the apples are soft. Beat the whites, sugar, almonds, zest and tahini until smooth then spread this over the base of the pastry. Spoon the apples over the top, decorate with twisted strips of pastry or flaked almonds, then bake at 170C (150C fan) for 25 minutes or until the filling under the apples has set.
4. Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar and a little Aperol custard or creme fraiche.