This one said, "it's okay to be happy with a calm life".
These days, life is often calm.
When I was at university or when I lived with friends, I always felt like I had to make sure I had a sufficiently exciting life to ensure that people didn't realise quite how boring I was underneath it all. How much I like just pottering around. The great joy I get from a quiet day.
If you were to have asked the younger me what I did last weekend, I would have told you about the birthday party that we went to on Friday or the play that we saw on Saturday.
What I probably wouldn't have told you about is the calm Sunday that we had.
We woke at what I like to consider the golden hour; that sweet moment where you've had just enough sleep to feel refreshed but not too much that you feel like you've wasted the day. My boyfriend went for a run while I sleepily made a batch of pastry. While the pastry chilled, I chopped apples in between bouts of cleaning. When the tart had cooked, I went for a luxurious mid-afternoon run. In the evening, we ate slices of apple tart while we watched a film. In the advert breaks, I put on a couple of loads of laundry. We had clean sheets to start the week.
It was nothing spectacular, nothing extravagant. It was indistinguishable from many Sundays that we have had.
But these days, these calm days are the days that I love. Maybe it's the wisdom of age (ha!) but I'm glad that I don't have to make excuses for them any more. I don't need great excitements really, I'm more than happy with my calm life.
Making an apple tart seemed to me to be an excellent use of a quiet day. This is a very gentle sort of apple tart, softly sweet apples nestled in a light vanilla custard. There's a whisper of spring about this while making good use of one of the few fruits hardy enough to stand up to a British winter. It's the perfect way to celebrate a calm life.
~Apple and honey tart
Pastry adapted from Sharpham Park
Filling adapted from Raymond Blanc
Yield: A 22cm diameter tart, serves 8
For the pastry:
- 75g (2/3 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 55g (1/2 cup) whole wheat spelt flour
- 170g (1 1/2 cups) white spelt flour
- 75g (1/3 cup) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 2 apples, peeled and cored and cut into 12 slices (I used Russet apples, you can also use Braeburns, Worcesters or Cox's)
- 15g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 45ml (3 tablespoons, divided into 2 tablespoons & 2 teaspoons and 1 teaspoon) honey
- 100ml (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) double/heavy cream
- 1 medium egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- To make the pastry, put the butter, flours, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse until you have a sandy texture with a few larger lumps of butter. Add the egg gradually and continue to pulse until the mixture starts to come together - you may have to dump it out of the food processor and bring it together with your hands if the machine isn't quite doing the trick but I promise you, it will work. Roll into a ball, flatten into a disk and chill for a couple of hours.
- When the pastry has chilled, roll it out into a flat disk big enough to line your tart tin. It might appear like it won't come together and roll out flat but it will.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan).
- Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Line a 22cm diameter tin with a loose bottom with foil or parchment paper, add some baking beans and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and bake for a further 5 minutes until the pasty has dried out and is golden brown.
- Increase the oven temperature to 200C/375F (fan).
- When the pastry case has been blind baked, add the sliced apples in overlapping circles.
- Mix together the melted butter, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of honey and brush over the apples.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the apples have started to turn brown and are a little soft to the touch.
- Mix together the cream, egg, vanilla and remaining honey. Pour the liquid over the apples and bake for 10 - 15 more minutes until the custard is lightly firm to the tough.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour or so before serving.
- The tart will be fine in the fridge for a couple of days and can be served chilled or at room temperature.