The best Valentine’s day present …

Valentine’s Day

This year we’re staying in. My present is time. Time, and a discovery I made years ago … The best pudding in the world. Not too heavy, easy to make.

You don’t have to do this just for a lover. You don’t have to have a lover at all. You can do it for friends, or just for yourself. Sometimes Valentine’s Day is all about looking after you.

I discovered this translucent apple tart recipe years ago in Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat book. Now my version of it looks like this …

apple tart

For this recipe, you will need:

Time (not much), a freezer, a shallow tart tin of some description, pastry, an apple, a grater, some butter … Ideally, Nigella’s How to Eat.


Nigella does it better than me. I love the way she describes her hostess, at the party where she discovered it, making the pastry in advance and casually grating the apple in between courses while she chatted. I wanted to be that hostess – so in control, so convivial, so on top of her game. I’m not sure I ever have been. And my kitchen is tiny so I can only chat to one guest at a time, and only then if they come and find me. But that’s was the dream anyway. And this time my husband can nuzzle my neck while I grate. Multi-tasking – it’s what I was made for.

Translucent Apple Tart
from ‘How To Eat,’ Nigella Lawson, adapted from Jane Grigson’s ‘Fruit Book’.

1 quantity of sweet pastry, enough to line a shallow 23cm flan tin.
60g salted butter
60g caster sugar
few drops vanilla extract (or use vanilla sugar)
1 egg
1-2 apples, peeled and grated – preferably sour i.e. Granny Smith.

-Preheat oven to 210C
-Melt butter and sugar together over a very low heat, so they are barely warm. Remove from stove and beat in the egg.
-Add the grated apple and stir thoroughly into the butter mixture. You may prefer to wait until last minute to peel and grate the apple, to prevent any browning.
-Pour and spread over the pastry-lined tin and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Lower the heat for 180C and cook a further 15-20 minutes until golden on top.
-It is best to wait until the tart has settled a little before eating it. Warm is better than hot, but cold is also good.

I have never known this tart not be gobbled up in one sitting. If you have two tins, make two. Serve with creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt.

If you don’t have Nigella’s sweet pastry recipe, you can always use thinly rolled shortcrust, or very thinly rolled puff. (If it’s too deep, the puff will expand to vast proportions, chucking all the apple out of the tin. This is what happened to my first batch of mince pies at Christmas, and it was very exciting. The second batch were great, though. Not pretty, but delicious.)

For a full list of How to Eat recipes, check out:



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