There is nothing more delicious than the smell of a fresh Irish apple tart, wafting around the house, and anyone who grew up in Ireland will know this smell. Many of our grandmothers and mothers made this dessert on special occasions, particularly on Sundays, family gatherings, birthdays and of course if they had any leftover ingredients they need to use up.
An Irish Apple Tart is different to other desserts out there, in the sense that it is made using all Irish ingredients and is generally served with whipped cream or custard. Irish apple tart can be found on menus all over Ireland and is one that many people still love to cook traditionally at home, so if you are thinking about trying out this recipe, I can assure you that it is doable for anybody who knows their way around the kitchen.
Before I was born, my mum won an apple tart competition in our local village, which she always told me about, and as I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see my mum in the kitchen kneading and rolling out the pastry, collecting apples from the apple tree in the back garden and preparing this dessert with a smile on her face.
There never seemed to have to be a precise occasion in my household for making an apple tart, it was generally a hobby of my mum and my granny, who both loved to bake, whenever they had free time, or whenever visitors were coming over of course.
My granny grew her rhubarb, so she would often make delicious rhubarb tarts, but it was my mother who was a big fan of apple tarts, something she was very talented at creating. Over the years I have made a few apple tarts of my own, and I love to eat them with fresh Irish whipped cream, but I would never say no to a side of custard either, both of which are real Irish additions.
Irish Apple Tart History
Apple tarts have been made in Ireland for centuries, and although we don’t know exactly how far they date back, many of us have our very own family recipes which have travelled through the generations, meaning that each family’s apple tart differs slightly.
Many Irish people like to grow their fruit and vegetables so it was not uncommon for Irish households to make rhubarb or apple tarts when it was the right season, or even a tart with both like my own granny would do.
The ingredients for a traditional Irish apple tart are quite simple, which meant that throughout the ages many families had access to a simply delicious dessert, without having to spend too much on ingredients, and just like other traditional Irish recipes, this Irish dessert became popular and is still loved by the nation to this day.
- 125g of Stork margarine
- 225g of plain flour
- 900g of cooking apples
- 100g caster sugar
- 150ml water (cold)
Step 1: Begin by preheating your oven to 200C/400F, before peeling the cooking apples (either store-bought or homegrown) and slicing them. Make sure that you take the core out of the apples, and once they are all peeled and sliced, place them in a bowl of water until you are ready to use them – this will prevent any browning of the apples.
Step 2: Next you will move on to the pastry, so begin by sieving the plain flour into a large bowl, to ensure it is a fine texture, before adding in the margarine.
Tip: Coat your fingers in flour before you add the margarine with your hands, to prevent any sticking and while many recipes will say add butter, margarine results in a better flavour if you ask me.
Step 3: Using your hands, rub the flour and margarine in-between your fingers until you get a bowl of mixture which resembles breadcrumbs. Then add in the cold water and continue to mix until a dough is formed.
Step 4: For the next step, ensure you have plenty of counter space, dusted in flour and a rolling pin. You will begin by kneading the dough with your hands and follow by rolling out ¾ of the dough with the rolling pin. Separately roll out the extra ¼ which will be used a little later, to cover the tart.
Step 5: Take an ovenproof Pyrex dish and place the large portion of dough on the base. Arrange your sliced apples in layers, so it evenly covers the pastry, and sprinkle some caster sugar on top, to take away any bitterness from the cooking apples. Press the edges of the dough against the dish, to seal.
Tip: To prevent the tart from sticking to the dish, rub a thin layer of margarine along the bottom and sides, before placing the dough inside.
Step 6: You will now reach for your last portion of dough, which you rolled out earlier, and gently place it over the apples and the edge of the dish to meet the base dough. Use your fingers to press the dough against the glass to seal it all together, before cutting off any remaining dough with a sharp knife.
Step 7: Use any remaining dough to create shapes, which can be placed on the top of the apple tart as decoration, and if you prefer your apple tart to have a glazed finish, feel free to brush over it with a layer of egg yolk (optional).
Tip: If you want some extra sweetness, add a sprinkle of icing sugar to the top of the apple tart, before placing it in the oven.
Step 8: Cook the apple tart in the oven for around 30 minutes, checking it until you notice it is golden brown on top. When it is done, take it out, let it cool and serve with a side of custard or whipped cream, the real Irish way.