FROM TREE TO TABLE
Inspired by the beauty and productivity of British orchards, photographer and cookery writer Stuart Ovenden has created a range of recipes for baking with apples and pears
Inspired by the productivity of British orchards, cookery writer Stuart Ovenden has created a range of recipes
some of my earliest memories are of the orchard in the village with a crab apple tree planted at each end. I often wondered why the crab apples were there; to me, they seemed to offer no merit to the casual scrumper nor (and more importantly) the orchard owner. I know now why they are planted in commercial orchards; they have a long flowering period in spring and are terrific pollination partners for cultivated apples. The walk to school took us through trees festooned with blossom in spring, heavy crops of fruit hanging off branches in late summer and the muggy ferment of the last days of autumn, air thick with dust and vinegar. I often think of an orchard as an almost self-contained environment; there’s something appealing about the vivid polarisation of the seasons that it offers up each year. It feels only natural to want to spend as much time as possible in these beautiful, complex spaces.
RUSSET AND RUM TARTE TATIN
Preparation 15 minutes Cooking about 40 minutes Serves 6 conservatively, 4 if you’re feeling indulgent A decent tarte tatin is one of the cornerstones of the orchard repertoire – I have made countless variations over the years, but this has to be my favourite. If you prefer, the rum can be replaced with Calvados and the results are equally enjoyable, although it does compromise the pleasingly alliterative recipe title somewhat...
4 Russet apples 60g golden caster sugar 40g light soft brown sugar 50g butter 50ml dark rum 150g puff pastry
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) gas mark 6. Peel, core and halve the apples. For the caramel, melt the sugars on the hob in a heavybottomed, 20cm ovenproof pan. Keep a watchful eye on this; when it starts to smoke, take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter and rum. Mix through quickly and thoroughly. 2 Turn the heat down, return the pan to the hob and cook the apples in the caramel for 5 minutes or until they start to soften slightly. Arrange the apples curved-side down in the pan and set to one side (off the heat). 3 Roll the puff pastry out thinly and use a 22cm-23cm plate as a guide to cut out a large pastry circle. Drape it over the apples, tuck the edges in around the fruit and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the puff pastry is firm and golden. 4 Let the tarte tatin cool for 5 minutes, place a plate on top of the pastry and carefully turn over. Remove the pan and spoon over any leftover caramel. Eat immediately.