It's no secret that I have become obsessed with the British program "The Great British Bake Off", which airs on PBS. While waiting out my pregnancy, I've come to love this wholesome show and it's also made me very hungry... and ignited a desire to bake! It combines 3 of my loves: reality TV, cooking, and British anything. It is also a refreshingly down-to-earth competition between regular british joes and janes who happen to love baking as a hobby. There's no fabricated drama, malicious intent (unless you have conspiracy theories about the stolen custard or melted ice cream incidents), and the contestants represent a range of Brits from house builders and teachers to rocket scientists. Plus, the show is filmed on a lovely English estate, which is really lovely.
At 39+ weeks, in the heat of our Los Angeles October heat wave, and without fancy gadgetry like the ubiquitous Kitchenaid mixer, which I have yet to invest in, I wanted to make something easy, uncomplicated, but still fancy enough to envision it being judged alongside my favorite contestants as I watch the show. So, I've adapted a recipe from The Pioneer Woman...I wanted individual tarts with a bit more spice, but her tutorial and pictures for working with the puff pastry are a great resource.
I won't divulge how many of these I've "tested" but suffice it say they are delicious -- the apples cook down and create a great, soft natural custard which contrasts with the light, puffed pastry. Put on a pot of tea, put on The Great British Bake Off, and enjoy!
EASY AUTUMN APPLE TARTS
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced thinly
1 pkg puff pastry
2 TB butter, melted
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 C brown sugar
1/2 lemon (optional)
spray or oil for greasing cookie sheet
Remove puff pastry from package and thaw for 20 minutes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Slice apples and mix with brown sugar and spice (and lemon if you decide to use)
Unfold pastry and cut 2 sheets into 4, resulting in 8 squares
Coat each square with butter (use spoon or brush)
Stack 5-7 slices of apple vertically, leaving about 1/2 each on each side of pastry.
** Note: you want your puff pastry to stay cold. I ended up putting 4 squares in the freezer whilst working on the other 4 to prevent them from becoming too soft while they awaited their topping.
Place tarts on greased tin(s) and put in oven.
Bake for approximately 13 minutes...cooking times will vary depending on your oven. Check at 12 minutes and watch for golden brown, PUFFED UP pastry...burning can happen quickly so monitor your tarts! Sprinkle with powdered sugar using a sieve and enjoy.