Preparation time: 40 minutes
Oven temperature: 180°C; 220°C
Baking time: 20 minutes; 15-20 minutes
• about 600g apples, peeled and cored
• juice and zest of 1 lemon
• 200ml sugar
• 150ml water
• 1 vanilla pod, split open and seeds scraped out
• 80ml butter
• 100g pecan nuts, chopped
• 400g puff pastry, thawed
1. Cut the apples into wedges and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside.
2. Heat the sugar, water, vanilla pod and seeds in an ovenproof pan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved (the sugar crystals must be dissolved before the mixture starts to boil). Boil the syrup without stirring until it starts to colour – when it’s a light caramel colour, it’s perfect.
3. Remove the vanilla pod and then stir in the butter.
4. Arrange the apples close together in the syrup. REMEMBER The apples shrink as they soften; pack them tightly against each other in concentric circles. Sprinkle the chopped pecan nuts and lemon zest over the apples. Place the pan in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes, or you can slowly simmer the pan on the stove top for about 5-8 minutes until the apples begin to soften and the syrup thickens. Allow the pan to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C.
5. Roll out the puff pastry and cut it into a circle slightly bigger than the pan; keep the dough cool and work as quickly as you can. Place the dough on top of the apples and press it slightly around the edges of the pan. Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is cooked, golden brown and has puffed up.
6. Let the pie cool for a few minutes in the pan. Place a plate over the pan and turn the tart out onto a plate so the apples are on top. Tip Flip the tart over in one swift movement, but be careful because the syrup is very hot. Serve the tart with crème fraîche or ice cream.