This may not look the most glamorous of desserts but it tastes a lot better than it looks. If you are a fan of tarte tatin, you will love this. Caramelised, buttery apples with a hint of Calvados but much less pastry.
We encountered the recipe when it was featured on a recent TV series hosted by Jane Asher, called “Best Bakes Ever”, which appeared on our screens a month or two ago. Each episode was a selection of clips from previous programmes by the usual TV chefs that appear regularly such as Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry, the Hairy Bikers and many others. This recipe was in a clip of a previous Raymond Blanc series which I do remember vaguely, called “How to cook well”. Unfortunately it looks like the recipe is one of those that has been removed from the BBC Food website so in order to make it for ourselves we had to search for it elsewhere and found it on a couple of blogs. Fortunately we had also recorded the Jane Asher TV series so could have another look at that as well; it appears in episode 3.
Essentially you fill a lined loaf tin with layers of thinly sliced apple, buttering each layer as you go until you reach the top. Then you bake for a very long time in the oven until the apples are caramelised. Before serving you sit it on a slab of cooked puff pastry.
It’s difficult to specify the exact quantity of apples needed as it depends on the size of tin and the size of apple. Having made this twice I would say that you need roughly six apples for a 1lb loaf tin and ten for a 2lb tin. In any case, if you run out of apples before you reach the top of the tin it’s simply a matter of peeling and slicing another one and, if necessary, melting a bit more butter with another splash of Calvados.
In the TV programme, Raymond makes some apple crisps and vanilla ice cream to go with his, but we just served ours with a spoonful of single cream or a dollop of whipped cream flavoured with a spoonful of Calvados. It’s a good dessert to make the day before you need it, apart from the last step of baking the pastry bottom.
One of the few places you can find the recipe on the internet is here, where it goes under its official but less glamorous name of “compressed apple terrine”.
This month’s Alphabakes Challenge, organised by Ros of the more than occasional baker, and Caroline of Caroline Makes, features the letter C. You can see the details here.
8-10 eating apples, preferably Braeburn or Cox’s Orange Pippin
3 tblsp butter, melted
1½ tblsp Calvados, or more if you like
A sheet of ready made, ready rolled puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4. Butter a loaf tin and line it with a well oversized layer of baking paper, large enough to fold over double on the top of the tin. Butter the paper.
Peel, core and slice the apples into very thin slices using either a mandolin or the slicing disc on a food processor.
Melt the butter with the Calvados.
Put a neat layer of apple slices in the bottom of the tin and up the sides. This will become the visible outside of the terrine when it is served. Brush with the melted butter mixture.
Build up the layers of apple, brushing each layer with the butter, until you reach the very top of the tin. Fold over the baking paper and wrap the whole thing in a layer of foil.
Bake for 1½ hours. Remove from the oven, remove and discard the foil, peel back the paper and press down the terrine using a fish slice or potato masher. Replace the paper and bake for another 1½ – 2 hours or until the apples look golden and caramelised. Turn off the oven.
The terrine will have shrunk down quite a bit. Tip baking beans onto the top of the baking paper and put back into the oven to go cold. Once cold, remove the beans and keep in the tin in the fridge until needed.
To bake the pastry bottom, preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6. Place an oblong of pastry, bigger than the size of the terrine, on a piece of baking paper on a baking sheet. Cover with a second sheet of baking paper and put a second baking sheet on the top to prevent it from rising. Bake until golden brown. The recipe says for 20 minutes but after 20 minutes our first one was burnt so we did a second and it took 14 minutes to become brown and crisp.
Remove the pastry from the oven, peel off the paper and allow to go cold.
To serve, remove the terrine from its tin and paper, place the pastry on a board and sit the terrine on top. Using a sharp knife, trim the pastry to fit the terrine. Serve in slices with a spoonful of cream, or a dollop of whipped cream flavoured with Calvados.
Cuts into 8-12 slices.